This is a political post.
There has been a lot of talk lately about how the Obama Administration is handling the situation in Egypt, and most of it from people who haven't the first clue either, but just really want to some air time and figure it's a way to take shots at the President. The Middle East has been contentious for several hundred years, and neither a weekend at Camp David or even Batman Obama is gonna fix it just like that. What's happening right now is really more of what the local police word refer to as a "domestic situation" more than anything else, and no cop really likes to deal with those.
I'm no foreign policy expert, just a guy with internet access, but this is how I'm seeing it. Think of the situation as husband and wife in a fight, with Hosni Mubarak as the husband and the people of Egypt as the wife. The wife wants a divorce, now, and wants the husband to move out, now. No ifs, ands or buts. The husband on the other hand, wants to stay for a while. He's even agreed that he'll sleep in the guest room. And then as soon as he's ready, having gotten things in order, he'll find a new place. It's a weird analogy, but it works. And as anyone who has been between a man and wife fighting knows, taking sides is dicey at best. Looking at these circumstances, this divorce is going to happen. The problem is that the longer the husband stays in the house, the uglier this whole deal is gonna get.
What's funny is that Mubarak claims he wants to stay to effect a "smooth" transition. But the country is entering its fourth week of massive protests. Blood is being spilled in the streets. Video of the army driving over people floats around the internet. There are rumors are that the secret police are arresting protesters. The country's economy is shut down. This is smooth? How much rougher would him leaving make it? Theoretically, him leaving will make all that stop and life can get back to some semblance of normal, if not actually better.
Now while it is true that his resignation would trigger an election in a scant 60 days under the Egyptian Constitution, and who exactly would run for office is unclear, so there would be some degree of chaos. But this more about ego, as so many things are these days. Ego on the part of Mubarak, who wants to leave with dignity, but more importantly ego on the part of the US State Department. Seventy years of meddling in the Middle East has taught them nothing.
The question is presented as "will there be enough time to hold free and fair elections were Mubarak to step down?" The real question is, much like the Daily Show reporter joked, will 60 days give the US enough time pick who they want from the field? The fact is, the existence of the clause triggering the election means there IS a process in place for just such an emergency. So use it. It might not be pretty, or fit the plan...but it is the law. And who the Egyptians pick is immaterial, as long as they get to pick him. That's how democracy works.
The really real question is why hasn't Mubarak woken up one morning and found himself on a jet headed to Saudi Arabia, next to a box of gold bullion, a suitcase full of money and one of those cutesy termination letters that reads: "thanks for your dedicated service, but we've decided to go another way." He's over eighty, exactly how hard would that be?
It might not be the right answer. Okay, I'm fairly certain that's not the right answer, but it will get the country started on the road to where everyone wants them to be...which can't be all bad.
Now boarding at Gate 1, one way to not here. Heck, they should even give him an extra bag of peanuts.