In Tuesday’s State of the Union address, Barack Obama did what every president does in that thing: He praised people around the world who rose up for democracy and against authoritarian regimes. It was because these people Thought Big and American that freedom would Win the Future! But though Obama praised voters in Sudan and demonstrators in Tunisia, he said nothing about what was going on in Egypt. In fact, he’s been completely quiet about Egypt. That is, until he was cornered on YouTube yesterday, of all things, by noted journalist the Keyboard Cat or whatever. According to Obama, the regime in Egypt is trying to be more democratic. And as for the demonstrators? He’s not going to say they shouldn’t want democracy. But he’s not supporting what they’re doing.
“The people on the streets have to be careful of not resorting to violence. And I think it is very important that people have mechanisms in order to express legitimate grievances,” he said on YouTube, probably auto-tuned.
In its relations with most countries, the Obama administration, like most any presidential administration, pushes for democracy pretty hard. Certainly with China, even if most people in that country are relatively happy with things! But when it comes to Egypt, it’s too hard to support democracy. “Mechanisms in order to express legitimate grievances” is what Egypt should have. Perhaps Egypt can build a facility where these people can go to talk about their grievances all day long. Like, for example, a prison!
According to new WikiLeaks, the U.S. has stopped criticizing the Mubarak regime in public. Mubarak likes this, because it turns out it’s pretty easy to ignore a presidential administration’s private pleading to stop being such a dictator!
Look, if the administration is against certain governments becoming democracies, it should just say so. With Al Jazeera collecting these uprisings into a narrative of a common Arab struggle, this may spread to even more countries. And the U.S. will be exposed for what it really desires: governments that are secular, not governments that are free. It’s better to be corrupt than be Muslim. There are some at least justifiable reasons to do that, and if the U.S. believes in it, it should stop pretending it thinks democracy is a good thing in all cases.