Monday, February 14, 2011

Peggy Noonan on Egyptian Revolution

The first I've read so far among American analysts and columnists, who seems to be able to see without the clouded lens of "radical Islam", "Israel", "stability in Middle East", "war on terror", "military coup", and who seems to be sincerely congratulating Egyptians for what they've achieved so far and wishing them well for tackling the challenge that awaits them.

From Wall Street Journal (Peggy Noonan, 2/12/2011):

A Young Nation Triumphs as an Old Ruler Falls
No vulnerable dictatorship will survive this era.


The revolution in part was a struggle between the ambivalent and the impassioned. Those who backed Mr. Mubarak for reasons of stability or personal gain knew they were supporting a system that was corrupt and oppressive. Their support made them complicit, morally compromised. They didn't want to be targeted. They weren't going to do interviews making the case for a dictator; they weren't going to take to the streets holding signs.

Those who opposed Mr. Mubarak had no ambivalence. They were happy to make their case. They were fighting for a dream of the future; they were fighting for superior principles. In modern revolution, passion trumps ambivalence.

Although I don't agree 100% with her characterization that this was the revolution led by and dominated by the young (I've seen enough visual evidence to the contrary - that it has been an all-age, all social-class, all-religion affair), I wholeheartedly agree with her assertion that this has been about "Egypt for Egypt"; it's not about the US (or the West) "losing" or "retaining" or "controlling" Egypt:


Finally, it was Egypt's story, Egypt's drama, Egypt's decision about Egypt's future. What happens now will have implications for America, but the revolution was not about America, which appears to have been hard for some Americans to grasp. "America's invasion of Iraq prompted Egypt's freedom movement." That's one way to look at it, an odd way. "Did Obama Lose Egypt?" It was not his to lose. Egypt prompted Egypt's freedom movement. We are not the center of everything, the reason for everything.

And her last paragraph:

It is hard to know, if you're not Egyptian, what to make of this. Not only will the world be watching to see what Egypt becomes, what future its people will choose, but Egypt itself will be watching, and discovering what and who it is. A Hollywood director once said that a great Western is defined by this dynamic: "The villain has arrived while the hero is evolving." Egypt itself is evolving. May its people be heroes and do great things.

May they be heroes and do great things, just as they have been and they have done in the past 22 days.


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