Friday, February 11, 2011

Joy in Egypt Land

I'm with Angela Merkel.

"Today is a day of great joy!" she said just now.
She's a politician, so she doesn't tell you whether it's a day of joy for her personally or whether she's just stating an objective fact, that in Cairo and around the world the joy is unrestrained.

"The greatest day of my life," says Mohamed ElBaradei. And you know he's speaking for millions.

Well, joy unrestrained around the world is clearly rhetorical excess. Israel is worried as hell. Lots of people are reminding us there is no history of democracy in Egypt, and after 7000 years of tyranny the framework on which to build one appears extremely flimsy. Lots of people worry about the Muslim Brotherhood. Others tell us Egypt is more likely to go the way of Turkey, with a secular government.

The days to come might bring a sober reassessment. This revolution is taking place on the precise anniversary of the Iranian revolution. Iranians walked out of a frying pan into a fire, and there is fear this could happen to Egypt, as well.

But for those who take things one day at a time, this is a thrilling moment. You can focus on the 7000 years of tyranny and its supposed consequences. But you can also focus on the fact that we're watching a revolution succeed. Home grown. From the bottom up. Mubarak is off at some sea resort. The Swiss have frozen his funds.

No thanks to American influence, sadly. The world knows the United States as all talk about democracy and little evidence of putting their money where their mouth is.

Speaking of money, people are watching what happens now to the 1.3 billion dollars the U.S. gives every year to the Egyptian military, and what its number one man, Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who has taken over from Mubarak, is going to do. Good news is he's old and tired, has fought three wars with Israel and is apparently committed to not fighting another. Bad news is he's awfully like part of the power structure he is replacing, and apparently favors strong central power over political and economic reform.

But those are concerns for another time.

Today it's dancing in the streets. Fire eaters. That kind of thing.

Today the word is joy. Tune in to Al Jazeera and feel the joy.


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