It's becoming pretty clear that Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak is going to resign soon, as the protests in Cairo don't seem to be letting up and no half measures will placate the crowds. Even ruthless dictators--and I suppose dictators didn't get their jobs by being all sweetness and sunshine, with the possible exception of President For Life Generalissimo Francois Sanchez Huggiepie who won control of Portugal for that brief crazy period in the '70s due to the effect of far too much disco music and cocaine in the country--will balk at having to mow down thousands of protesters to keep power, particularly where this will--surprise!--lead to more protests, more killing, and maybe a military unwilling to carry out such orders on their own people. Mubarak, it seems, is in an untenable position.
But then, is that really such a bad thing from his perspective? He's a longtime U.S. ally, so one could think that he could retire peacefully in fabulous wealth in Vegas or somewhere, being all wistful about losing power and trying to console himself with his billions of dollars and hookers and cocaine (as I imagine it went for the Shah before he got sick). Even if he weren't welcome in the U.S., there's always France which seems to have provided a haven for everyone ranging from Trotsky to the Ayatollah Khomeini to Jerry Lewis.
Mubarak might be genuinely concerned for his country--after all, even dictators often rationalize to themselves that they're holding power solely to prevent a worse outcome for their people, and if only everyone would do EXACTLY WHAT THEY ARE TOLD then everything would be nice and sweet. Iran may have had it bad under the Shah, but the gang that replaced him proved far worse. Mubarak could be thinking that his leaving would put some gang of dangerous radicals in charge, who would do something stupid and start war with Israel (been there, done that, got asses kicked, FOUR times, thank you very much) or adopt an economic model akin to those GDP powerhouses, Syria and Pakistan. But then, there's really nothing Mubarak can do about that--if he wanted to manage a peaceful transition to stable, non-crazy rule, the time to have acted was a while ago. Now that he's leaving under duress, his best hope is getting his friends and loyalists out.
What should the U.S. do about this? How about, for a change, NOTHING?? Not everything in the world has to be our business. If some new gang in Egypt tries attacking Israel, they'll learn quick what the business end of a Galil assault rifle looks like. If they go so far as try to hatch terrorist plots against us, we can go to town on them. But maybe right now it'd be nice not to be seen as responsible for every regime that comes and goes over there, and taking along with it the blame for all of it.
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