Why did Mubarak decide on free elections? Read:

Critics of the Egyptian government claim that the volte-face came under heavy pressure from Washington. In his State of the Union Address, President Bush publicly called on Egypt to move toward democracy. And Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice just canceled a trip to Cairo to protest the imprisonment of Ayman Nour, a leading dissident.

For over 60 years, U.S. policy in the Middle East was designed to perpetuate the status quo. All that was required of the local regimes was to be pro-American in foreign affairs, especially in the context of the Cold War. How they ran their domestic affairs was no business of Washington.

Bush abandoned that policy on the grounds that the status quo in the Middle East had turned the region into “swamps where the mosquitoes of terrorism breed.” His big idea is that the United States cannot ensure its own national security without helping the peoples of the Middle East build their own democracies.

Bush has also acknowledged a truth that his predecessors had ignored: With the Cold War over, America can look for other allies in every country in the Middle East.


Yes, it’s still too soon to gloat. But it gets more and more tempting every day.


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