Wednesday, February 2, 2011

An Egyptian Policy, Not a Mubarak Policy

Senator John Kerry wrote an op-ed in the The New York Times on Monday entitled Allying Ourselves With The Next Egypt.  It is particularly thoughtful given that it is coming from the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Kerry contends that the stability of Egypt hinges on President Mubarak's "willingness to step aside gracefully to make way for a new political structure."  He urges Mubarak to take this "opportunity to end the violence and lawlessness, to begin improving the dire economic and social conditions in his country and to change his place in history."

Kerry also forthrightly discusses our country's role in supporting Mubarak by financing the Egyptian military, which ultimately has not served our interests, and the need to take a different approach in the future:
Given the events of the past week, some are criticizing America’s past tolerance of the Egyptian regime. It is true that our public rhetoric did not always match our private concerns. But there also was a pragmatic understanding that our relationship benefited American foreign policy and promoted peace in the region. And make no mistake, a productive relationship with Egypt remains crucial for both us and the Middle East.  To that end, the United States must accompany our rhetoric with real assistance to the Egyptian people. For too long, financing Egypt’s military has dominated our alliance. The proof was seen over the weekend: tear gas canisters marked “Made in America” fired at protesters, United States-supplied F-16 jet fighters streaking over central Cairo. . .  The awakening across the Arab world must bring new light to Washington, too. Our interests are not served by watching friendly governments collapse under the weight of the anger and frustrations of their own people, nor by transferring power to radical groups that would spread extremism. Instead, the best way for our stable allies to survive is to respond to the genuine political, legal and economic needs of their people. . . . How we behave in this moment of challenge in Cairo is critical. It is vital that we stand with the people who share our values and hopes and who seek the universal goals of freedom, prosperity and peace.  For three decades, the United States pursued a Mubarak policy. Now we must look beyond the Mubarak era and devise an Egyptian policy.


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