The tragedy of lost Egypt
I’ve been watching the news from Egypt with a mixture of hope and apprehension, but mostly apprehension. Mubarak finally has stepped down, and he has handed the government over to the army. It is a sad commentary, indeed, that the military is the only institution strong enough to hold the nation together.
What might have been had the US used its influence not merely to keep a brutal dictator in its corner, but to advocate for democracy? We will never know. In letting this thugs brutalize the people, Mubarak poured gasoline on the smoldering fumes of Islamic fundamentalism, and that in turn set the Muslims to terrorizing the Copt Christians.
In short, the nation was falling apart and was doomed to the rule of a strongman. The only question was whether that strongman would be from the military or from the Islamic radicals. We don’t have our long-range answer yet.
It’s a huge opportunity lost. Thirty years of aid, at about $2B a year, and all we bought was delay. But the money spent is not the worst of it. Our lost respect is more expensive. The last two weeks, in particular, has shown the White House stumbling all over itself, not knowing a thing about what was going on, getting its news from the TV, sending its chief intelligence specialist to make an open show of his utter incompetence before Congress.
The key ingredient that could have brought about a different outcome is leadership. Moral leadership. Jimmy Carter professed to be a big advocate of global human rights when he was president. Maybe he was, but he did not back it up with the one thing dictators respect – strength.
The man who did champion human rights, and who also backed it up with strength, was Ronald Reagan, whose centennial we celebrated this week. It’s in vogue to laud Reagan now, but in his time he was derided by the same liberal elites that now praise him.
Reagan made mistakes, such as allowing Hezbollah to survive its bombing of our Marine peacekeepers in Lebanon. But he got the big picture right – something we haven’t done terribly well since. It’s a shame that we suffer with such poor leadership, but then, we essentially get the leadership we deserve.
John Adams said that the Constitution was designed for a religious and moral people; that none else could sustain it. Because our moral foundations are disintegrating, we have lost discernment and opened ourselves up to any sweet-talking shyster with big promises. If we want better government, each of us needs to commit to personal moral and spiritual revival. Jesus promised that if we would clean the inside of the cup, the outside would be clean as well.
I pray that the Middle East can overcome the political strongholds, many of them rooted in religion, that have bound it so long. I also hope that we can overcome the progressing humanist strongholds that keep us from being the witness we are meant to be. The world is crying out for moral leadership. First in Iran, and now in Egypt, the nation and the man that so many had placed their hope in has merely voted “present”.