Opinion: Egypt is not what it seems

“Madmen and butchers have no place in the 21st century, and as America continues to face a very uncertain future, we must not turn a blind eye.”

Bryan Staul

Bryan Staul

Bryan Staul is a sophomore political science major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

The unrest in Egypt has captured headlines over the past several days. Many have taken the side of the protestors and understandably so. The Egyptian people have been under the rule of Hosni Mubarak since 1981. Since then, the people of Egypt have been subjected to unfair elections and corruption. Egypt was a powder keg, and it needed only a spark to be set off. That spark was the economy. Unemployment in Egypt has ravaged the country, leaving a lot of very young and very angry people.

(Read: Youth alienation and protests in Egypt ).

This is where the trouble starts. Egypt, like any country, deserves democracy. America should support that, and the American people should hear out the protestors and strive to empathize with them. The situation becomes more complex when one thinks of a post-Mubarak Egypt. Who will replace him? Mubarak is far from being the good guy but his actions have been beneficial to America.

He has been a useful ally in the War on Terror, and he has maintained a period of peace with Israel while being generally supportive of the Palestinian people. He has been active in trying to create lasting peace in the Middle East. If Mubarak goes then a power vacuum could allow more extremist elements to take control. (Read: Beware Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood )

If that happens, then the situation in Egypt would look less like the fall of the Berlin Wall and more like the 1979 Iranian Revolution. So now America needs to weigh its commitment to democracy against its security and economic interests in Egypt. To use a Cold War analogy, America cannot let the dominos fall in Egypt.

An extremist government would be unacceptable not only to the United States but to Israel. Also, the world has major economic interest in a stable Egypt due to its proximity to the Suez Canal. If that area were disrupted, the effect on global oil prices could be catastrophic. The best option is for America to pressure Mubarak to finally start instituting democratic reforms. We can do this because we have billions of dollars of military aid invested in Egypt that can be used for political capital (Read: Most US aid to Egypt goes to military


Yes, it is in the best interests of Egyptians to have their rights, but it is also in their best interests to work with America. When the time does come for Egypt to hold free and fair elections it needs to be made clear that electing a hostile anti-American government would leave them in a much worse position. Turning on the United States could potentially inflame Egypt’s economic problems instead of helping.

America has received criticism for supporting the Mubarak regime and much of it is deserved. However, there are times when this country has had to make difficult decisions for our own sake. That is the responsibility of being the world’s only remaining superpower.