Protests in Egypt, dilemma in U.S.

The protests in Egypt put America in a difficult predicament.

Daily Editorial Board

As shown by a student rally outside Coffman Union and Minnesotans protesting on the Capitol steps, Americans support the protesters who have bravely taken to EgyptâÄôs streets to fight political oppression as well as social and economic strife. However, the U.S. governmentâÄôs  response âÄî given American alliances and high uncertainty in Egypt âÄî demands caution and a degree of neutrality.  
Historical evidence suggests that Egypt may not emerge from this chaos with the protestersâÄô western-style ideals of personal freedom and constitutional democracy. As when Khomeini took Iran, Hamas won Gaza and Hezbollah seized Lebanon, revolutions for individual rights or democracy were often subverted by oppressive extremist groups.  
If we express support for Mubarak âÄî EgyptâÄôs dictator for 30 years âÄî and he is overthrown or otherwise leaves power, Egypt and the U.S. could both be worse off. If a radical Islamist faction were to win control of the country, it could lead to theocracy and further restriction of freedoms. Even if a moderate government takes MubarakâÄôs place, our support for him could cause even more anti-American hostility in Egypt.  
However, if we denounce Mubarak and he somehow stays in power, we risk alienating an important Middle Eastern ally. Under Mubarak, Egypt has a peace agreement with Israel; the Muslim Brotherhood, a powerful Islamist group in Egypt, wants to end this if they take power. The U.S. needs to keep its demeanor neutral to avoid the appearance of meddling and work with whoever emerges from the struggle. For now, showing we support anyone who stands up for human rights and self-determination without taking the side of one specific person or faction is still our best option.