Jesse Walker offers some thoughts as Reason.
John Glaser weighs in on American political discourse. This passage sums things up nicely:
Events in Egypt have revealed something incredible about American political discourse. Most of the time, most Americans – and even most of the media pundits – operate under the assumption that America is a force for good in the world. They glean and grin and comfort themselves in “knowing” that America has a tradition of democracy promotion and the spreading of freedom and free markets. Most Joe-six-packs aren’t sitting around the dinner table discussing America’s most time honored international tradition: supporting fascist dictators all over the world. They’re not discussing it, because they mostly don’t know about it.
But now that revitalized discourse on Egypt is front and center, the newspapers and media pundits and dinner tables have been forced to focus on this dark, sinister underbelly of American foreign policy. Even the flag waving jingoists at Fox News and other networks, where they typically omit any facts from the discussion that might expose America’s dirty hands, are talking openly about it.
What is remarkable about this new slice of honesty in our political discourse is that nobody seems to care. The pundits, the talking heads, who were seemingly ignorant about America’s near constant support of tyranny, simply mention it and accept it as part of the analysis for “what this means for us.” The newspapers gloss over the details where the devil lies, but openly report on the steadfast U.S. support for the Egyptian dictator. Political analysts understand it as business-as-usual, and present it as such. And Joe-six-pack, previously unaware that his internal notions of innate American goodness were a sham, simply nods in a docile, accepting manner.
Here’s my take on the present uprisings in the Middle East:
As a staunch opponent of American imperialism and an advocate of self-determination for all peoples, obviously I’m happy to see U.S. puppets like Mubarak under attack. That said, I’m also inclined towards the view that a popular revolution in virtually any Muslim country would produce a regime that is more retrograde than what any of those countries have at present. This is true of both pro- and anti-American regimes in the Middle East. Ahmadinejad in Iran and Assad in Syria are likely preferable to any probable alternatives in those countries, just as Saddam Hussein was likely preferable to a Shiite ruled Iraq. As archaic as the Saudi monarchy is, its overthrow would likely produce a regime more comparable to the Taliban of Afghanistan. Remember that when democracy was introduced in Algeria in the early 1990s, a theocratic Islamic party was voted into power and removed only when the military nullified the election results. The situation in Egypt might be a bit more hopeful, and a democratic Egypt might come to resemble Turkey rather than Iran, but that’s still a roll of the dice. Bottom line: The United States and the other Western countries should simply butt out and let other nations and cultures organize themselves however they will and evolve at their own pace and in their own way.
So exactly how progressive and moderate is Egypt’s Muslim population? A Pew survey released in December showed that a trifling 95% of Egyptian Muslims thought it a “good” thing for Islam to play a “large” role in politics. Roughly four out of five said they favored stoning adulterers, whipping and dismembering thieves, and the death penalty for any believer who dares to abandon Islam. Yeah, they sound like just the sort of snarky kids who’d fit right in at a Huffington Post editorial pool party.