Monday, January 31, 2011

Analysis: The US moral conundrum in Egypt

WASHINGTON – As with Iran 30 years ago, American leaders again are wrestling with the moral conflict between Washington's demands for democracy among its friends and strategic coziness with dictatorial regimes seen as key to stability in an increasingly complex world, particularly the Middle East.
The turmoil in Egypt — and its potential for grave consequences for U.S. policy throughout the region — was inevitable. The recent WikiLeaks release of U.S. diplomatic reports showed that Washington knew what problems it increasingly faced with the regime of President Hosni Mubarak and his three decades of iron-fisted rule.
As importantly, the U.S. handling of Egyptian uprising, regardless of how it plays out, now has other close American friends in the Middle East — particularly in Saudi Arabia and Jordan — watching closely, looking for foreshadowings of what might be in store for them.
For that reason, U.S. officials have taken great pains to walk a middle line between Mubarak, an old friend and bulwark ally in the Arab world, and the street protests that threaten to drive him from power.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was spreading that message widely on U.S. television talk shows Sunday.

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