“Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpation” -James Madison

Friday, February 11, 2011

Egypt and some challenges

I challenge the Egyptian people to continue toward the path of self-rule and maintenance of friendly relations with the West. Do not let the medieval-minded force sharia law or other religious-based legal systems onto the government you will soon be forming. Prove to the world that democracy can spring up independently, that it does not have to be "imposed" by force or for ulterior motives. The United States and Egypt have been friends and allies for over 30 years. It is unfortunate that National Security required us to keep a petty dictator in place and enrich him while he maintained a police state; however, it was necessary, as those tactics allowed him to keep the fundamental Islamists from taking root and building a power base. Moreover, he was committed to peace and coexistence with Israel. There is now a vacancy in place, and it is critical to regional and world relationships that some semblance of friendship with both Israel and the U.S. will be maintained.

I challenge the President of the United States and the House and Senate to offer full support to the democratic movement in Egypt. Now that the thorny problem of Mubarak has been removed, the decision tree has been greatly simplified. This does not mean we should send the Marines in; on the contrary, this is the opportunity that the Left should have been waiting for: we can be a force that fosters freedom without the aftermath of war and the resulting infrastructure issues as well as relationships with locals. The stories of Iraq and Afghanistan having been popularized as epic failures in Bush leadership (nation-building, Mission Accomplished, etc.), Team O should be able to slam-dunk this one. Just be there for the Egyptian people, and be clear and firm that the expectation is a peaceful transition to some form of democratic rule. Anything short of that will result in a reshifting of power in the Middle East, and likely an Israeli-involved war that will inevitably drag the United States in.

Most importantly, I challenge the American people to pay attention to this event. All the platitudes that are thrown around during July 4th and the various anniversaries of D-Day etc are merely hollow words if the spirit behind them is no longer in the hearts of the people. We all know the stories of Valley Forge, and Washington's men marching for miles in the snow in bare feet, boiling their shoes for broth, etc., but we don't really have that drive -- their sacrifices and willingness to go up to the wall have led to peaceful and orderly lives of leisure for their progeny. We take so much for granted, and seeing millions of people living in a police state take to the streets with very good reason to fear for their lives and/or safety in order to protest a strong-man dictator, should be a wake-up call to remember how important freedom is. We must continue to apply these lessons to our own government, not from revolution, but from making sure through involvement that they understand who is to serve whom. Simply showing up at a primary and voting for the challenger to the incumbent (regardless of party) is a great start; removing an incumbent is the single hardest thing to do, and it is most easily done at the primary level when your vote is weighted more. We must rediscover our passion for freedom and ensure that we do not allow a government to become too powerful for the common man to control.


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