It has become fashionable to talk about the Egyptian revolt as “not about the United States” or “beyond our control.” There is a small measure of commonsense truth to this observation. But usually it is offered up as an expression of glee by declinists who believe America will soon and inexorably cease to be a player on the global stage. About this, they are mistaken. In fact, events in Egypt prove that the continued reach of American power is very real. The only thing in doubt is whether the Obama administration chooses to wield it.
Some on this blog have commented on the connection between President George W. Bush’s Freedom Agenda and the popular revolution that seized Egypt last week. Most of this commentary has rightly pointed to the ousting of Hosni Mubarak as a vindication of Bush’s political worldview, which posits individual liberty as the desire of all humankind.
But the story doesn’t end there. As Middle East scholar Fouad Ajami said on Fox News: “[Bush] can definitely claim paternity. … One despot fell in 2003. We decapitated him. Two despots, in Tunisia and Egypt, fell, and there is absolutely a direct connection between what happened in Iraq in 2003 and what’s happening today throughout the rest of the Arab world.” The American toppling of Saddam and the effort to establish Iraqi democracy, however flawed, made consensual Arab governance irrefutably thinkable. Read More