Monday, January 31, 2011

An Egyptian Dilemma

And like a Mexican standoff, I don't see how this one ends well.

Egyptians seem to be tired of the dictator they've had to endure for 30 years. Although it is half a world away, American's have an unkown quanity of a stake in the outcome of this unrest. As I understand it, in my shallow and dim view of international goings ons, two immovable premises seem to present themselves:

A) We like political freedom and a full range of human rights and think that everyone on the planet should have them as well.

B) We crave security for us and our allies, Mubarak provided that, though at the expense of premise A.

Anyone American whose heart now warms at the thought of the Egyptians throwing off tyranny, I include myself in this category, is a hypocrite. We can talk the talk all we want, but our actions belie our rhetoric. We put American interest above, not equal to, all of the rest of the world. Is this wrong? I think so; at least on some level it just has to be. Is it practical, and so second nature to humanity so as to almost be above questioning? Of course it is. Obama says he is not taking sides but of course he already has: $1.3 billion a year to the Mubarak regime is siding for sure. But for some reason Americans, liberal and conservative, haven't been all that interested in pointing out the double standard. Now there are people in the streets, people not really any different from us, when you get down to it, and our heart soars at the idea of triumphing over an oppressive regime. One that we have helped hold in place. Mubarak affords us and our allies security while oppressing his people—you and I didn't have a problem with that a week ago.

All I want is for us to soak in the knowledge that there is blood on our hands, we are not innocent; though I'm not sure what the alternative is. The answer I've always gone with is that we support bad governments as opposed to worse governments. We sided with Stalin to defeat Hitler and all that. It's morally ambiguous at the least, and probably damnable in the end. We're morally bankrupt hypocrites, but I haven't really got a better idea.

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