To Ejacquelin D., Hello! I never met anyone from Chile before, what's it like? ...and heck yeah, Power To The People United! To Toni T., So good to read your voice. You are missed. To Julie A. I don't know of a good blogger who knows about the Mid-East, but I may have something better...someone from Egypt! Mahitab Summer-Wine posted last night, and I for one would love to hear more from her, about anything she cares about, or anything that she has seen or heard, or smelled. Mahitab, please give us more! One more thing Julie, if you don't read Al Jazeera, try it. It's really good. To Jimmi L. S., You called me a poet. That feels really good. Finally to Mahitab, your post made me rattle and hum. I was hoping my message would reach someone in Egypt. I was writing to you.
Those are my shout-outs, here are my thoughts today.
Many people expressed concern and worry, both over the complex, and challenging road that Egypt will now walk, and also over what that means for the rest of the World. I share many of these thoughts, but I am also a news junkie and I think that there is good reason for a large dollop of hope, too.
From what I have seen from the Egyptian people in the last 2 1/2 weeks, they seem to be smarter, better educated, and more patient than your average U.S. voter, certainly than me. I think that they will treat their democracy at least as wisely as we do. They have, in living memory, a time in their history of great cultural richness. I speak of the Nasser years, between wars, in the late 50's, and early 60's. At this time the arts flourished, a liberal judiciary was created, and political debate rang through the cafes, homes, and streets. Faud Adjami talked with Anderson Cooper about this last night on CNN. He said this is something to build on. I've been watching this kind, angry man on the news for more than 20 years, and he always makes sense to me. He and Anderson agreed that we here in the U.S. have constantly underestimated the people of Egypt over the coarse of their revolution. At every turn we have been surprised by their patience, resilience, wisdom, intelligence, peacefulness, and the fact that most of them seem to speak English better than most U.S. politicians. I think it's time to stop underestimating them. If Tahrir Square wasn't filled with young George Washington's last night, it was filled with people who will recognize it when he or she comes forward. On another note, Switzerland has frozen ex- president Mubaraks' bank accounts. If even a part of the 70 BILLION DOLLARS, that he hid there can be recovered, it would go a very long way toward rebuilding the country. The revolution was short, with minimal damage to the country's infrastructure. If civil war can be avoided, and no one I listened to seems to think it likely, than rebuilding is very possible, although not easy.
Now to concerns of the rest of us. I read a great, if flawed, book called, 'The Next Hundred Years' by George Friedman. In it he talked of the nature of Geo-politics. He said that world leaders make their decisions based on things like how much food they can grow, how young is their population, how many ports do they have for trade and defense, how defensible are their borders, and how friendly are their neighbors. They do not base decisions on things like ideology, politics, or religion. In this way Geo-politics becomes like a chess game, and in chess the better the player, the more predictable they are. Great players are downright boring to watch, because there are only one or two good moves available at any one time. This is why George Bush's and Barack Obama's foreign policy looks so similar.
With that in mind, this is what I think is most likely to happen.
It will be in the interest of the new Government of Egypt to continue to sell us oil. It will need the money as much as we need the crude. Some one correct me if I'm wrong, but Iran still sells us oil, even though the U.S. betrayed their revolution.
It will be in the interest of the new Egypt to keep the Suez Canal open. A good part of their economy depends on the money it generates. The rest of the world needs the canal. We can't imagine world trade without it. Closing Suez could mean the worst for everybody: war. Egyptians have proven in the last 18 days that they can get what they want through peace.
It is highly likely that Egypt will make good on it's statement today that it will continue to honor it's peace treaty with Israel. It has many reasons to do this, not the least of which is the huge loss of life it has suffered because of the many wars it has fought with the Jewish state. It is said that every family in Egypt has at least one family member who died in one of those bloody wars. Also, the Egyptian Military receives more than a billion dollars a year from the U.S. as part of the peace deal. If Egypt attacks Israel that money vanishes, leaving it with very little to fight with. The same is true for Israel. Their military gets even more money. That is the genius of the treaty.
None of this is meant to say that Egypt doesn't control it's destiny, it does. It is to say that Egypt has the same concerns and constraints as the rest of the nations of the world, and it is not stupid.
One more hopeful thing, yesterday must have been a bad day to be a terrorist. Can you imagine trying to talk some one into strapping on a suicide vest now? Charlie Rose made this point on PBS last night. The self respect that the Egyptians have discovered for themselves is the best remedy for extremism and terror.
Will Egypt remain our loyal partner in the peace process? Probably not. Will Egypt open Gaza? Possibly. Let's face it, our puppets strings have been cut. From what I've seen, however, the people of Egypt are a rational bunch. I believe they will behave so.
Revolutions have counter-Revolutions. Popular uprisings in Iran and Gaza have fallen woefully short in creating real freedom. I do not know what will happen next. No one does. I do believe that there is good reason for hope. I believe in the Egyptian people, I've seen them in action.
Thank you all for your comments. I hope you all write again, especially Mahitab.