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Egypt: Be careful what you wish for
by Larry Wilson
Jan 31, 2011 | 683 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Low wages, high unemployment, widespread dissatisfaction with government’s handling of the economy and on and on it goes. Sound familiar? Well, that is what is happening in Egypt. What is the outcome going to be? Who knows? Our own government doesn’t even know despite the fact that we have the best intelligence gathering agency in the world.

Could the same thing happen here? Perhaps. Could this happen to other countries in Africa and in the Middle East? You bet. And that is the worry among our leaders and the various intelligence agencies of our government — and for good reason. Many Middle East countries have corrupt governments with many of the same problems as Egypt. The worry is that these countries all could erupt in revolt and ultimately become a theocracy like Iran after the Shah was deposed.

Egypt could become the next tile of a domino theory after the fall of the Tunisian government, resulting in a theocracy controlled by the leaders of the Muslim world. That in and of itself would not necessarily be a bad thing except that prior history of such a theocracy has shown that civil rights are nonexistent. Women’s rights disappear entirely. Elections would become a charade at best.

So what do we care if this thing in Egypt should result in another Iranian-type theocracy? We have already seen a rise in the price of crude oil that will ultimately mean you and I will pay more for a gallon of gas. Terrorism or at least the threat of terrorism will increase worldwide as the likes of the Taliban will feel stronger and more capable of pulling off terrorist hits to further their cause.

Egyptian tourism will fall off considerably, which will be a hit to that country’s economy but it also will affect tourism worldwide. Thankfully cooler heads have prevailed up until now and the Egyptians have realized the benefits of protecting their ancient treasures exhibited in the Cairo museum, although there has been looting and destruction of some of their archeological gems.

The big problem is that for 30 years, Washington has supported President Hosni Mubarak and his regime with $1.5 billion in foreign aid. Even if Mubarak steps down, and despite naming a vice president on Sunday, there is no clear cut replacement for him and no one whom Washington can count on to support and maintain our friendly status with Egypt. The United States has bankrolled a dictatorial loser and we will have egg on our face if he leaves power, which seems inevitable at this point, and we will have no one in the wings should all of that happen. In some ways this situation is more embarrassing for Washington than WikiLeaks publishing sensitive intelligence papers earlier this year.

In short, after 30 years in power, even the Egyptians don’t know who they would like to see in power, but they do know that they do not want Mubarak in power any longer. One caution here should be: Be careful what you wish for.   

Larry Wilson is a 50-year resident of Sparks and a retired elementary school teacher. He can be reached at
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