On Thursday, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak turned a crisis into a tragedy. His disastrous decision not to resign could very well lead to the end of Egypt as we know it. It will almost certainly lead to destruction. Mubarak is so tone deaf that he stoked the flames of the anti-Mubarak revolution. Now there is no way for this to end peacefully. The Egyptian crisis is now all but fated to end in tragedy.
Mubarak’s right move was obvious. In order to end the crisis, clear the square, stop the protests and fighting, and return his nation to normalcy, Mubarak had only to announce his immediate resignation, hand the country to his hand-picked successor, put the army in charge of security, and announce a transition plan to allow multi-party elections in September. Mubarak could have told the protestors that they’d won and that it was time for them to go home, go back to work, and get their country (and economy) running again. Unfortunately, the massive ego of a tyrant just wouldn’t allow it. Mubarak has to have the last word, even if it causes massive bloodshed and chaos, and leads to Egypt falling into the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood.
In the short term, very little would have changed for the Egyptian people if Mubarak had resigned but given control of the country to the army and his hand-picked successor. They’d still live in a dictatorship. But life would have returned to normal, business would have resumed, and tourism would eventually have returned as well. More importantly, it would have allowed the protesters to save face and feel they had accomplished something historic: forcing out a 30-year general and dictator from a Middle Eastern nation and opening the door to more freedom for themselves and their children.
But Mubarak just couldn’t get out of the way of his own ego. He couldn’t let the protesters in that Cairo square save face. He couldn’t give them even a small victory. That’s how it is with tyrants — it’s all or nothing. Mubarak has decided to go down with the ship. What comes next will not be pretty. What is so sad is that Mubarak’s decision hurts his supporters — business owners, moderates, the army, anyone not interested in seeing Egypt fall into chaos and quite possibly the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Now we’ll all watch a possible tragedy unfold. The protestors cannot back down now, because they know that if they do, Mubarak’s secret police will arrest, imprison and torture them. To leave the square in Cairo and disperse with Mubarak still in control is a non-starter. It’s either fight the revolution together, or die separately. That is their only next move.
The fear now is that Egypt will turn to the worst possible option — the Muslim Brotherhood. Mubarak could have ended his 30-year reign quietly and moved on with his legacy slightly intact. If he really cared about Egypt, he could have paved the way toward a peaceful transition. But his ego would not allow it.
Now America can only watch and wait. In the end, none of it is our business. It is all proof of why we should never take sides in the first place, never send billions to tin-pot dictators — even friendly ones — and never send billions in sophisticated military equipment to tyrants. Because all of it can and will eventually be used against us. It is time to let the Egyptian people determine their own fate. I’m just scared and sickened at the thought of what we are about to watch happen.
Wayne Allyn Root is a former Libertarian Vice Presidential nominee. He now serves as Chairman of the Libertarian National Congressional Committee. He is the best-selling author of “The Conscience of a Libertarian: Empowering the Citizen Revolution with God, Guns, Gold & Tax Cuts.” His web site: www.ROOTforAmerica.com