Before he began his prepared remarks today in Marquette, Michigan, President Obama discussed this unique moment when Egypt stands on the verge of transforming and making history. Obama praised the young people of Egypt for leading the demonstrations and calling for change, “Its young people who have been at the forefront. A new generation, your generation who want their voices to be heard.”
Here is the video from CNN:
Obama said, “We are following today’s events in Egypt very closely and we will have more to say as this plays out but what is absolutely clear is that we are witnessing history unfold. It is a moment of transformation that’s taking place because the people of Egypt are calling for change. They’ve turned out in extraordinary number representing all ages and all walks of life, but its young people who have been at the forefront. A new generation, your generation who want their voices to be heard, and so going forward we want those young people and all Egyptians to know America will continue to do everything we can to support an orderly and genuine transition to democracy in Egypt. Now as we watch what’s taking place we are reminded that we live in an interconnected world, what happens across the globe has an impact on each and every one of us.”
Even though as of this moment Mubarak has not officially resigned, the President’s remarks certainly made it sound like Mubarak is stepping down today. Obama is correct. What the young people of Egypt started was heroic. Those of us, who live in, and take our democracy for granted, can’t understand how difficult it is to overthrow and entrenched dictator by using only the force of popular will.
It is uncertain what the future will bring, but Obama’s remarks today signaled a commitment by his administration to keep pressuring those who forces that are resisting moving the country towards democracy.
Up until this point, Obama has handled the situation in Egypt masterfully, but the departure of Mubarak is not the end, but the beginning of an uncertain future for Egypt. The critical immediate question remains that if Mubarak does give up power, who or what immediately replaces him to lead the country, and how can the Egyptian people ensure that the interim government does not become a permanent dictatorship?
The movement towards democracy is not a simple or fast transition. It has also not been bloodless. It is important to remember those who lost their lives because they dared to use their voices and dreamed of a brighter future. The reality is that after the protests stop, the international media will leave, and the truly hard work of remaking Egypt will begin.
The most critical statement the President delivered was his and his administration’s continued commitment to democracy in Egypt. Instead of using our military to bring change, Obama is out to show that the power of the human spirit’s desire to be free is stronger than a doctrine of preemptive war. This is not only a new chapter for Egypt, but a new chapter in US foreign policy as well.