It’s getting more clear: the Egyptian Army is waiting things out. The US official policy is idealism: the US supports democracy and freedom, and opposes oppression, and —
The realistic appraisal is a bit different. And exactly what is democracy? The Egyptian middle class doesn’t think that a modern country chases a President into exile at the demands of a mob. Neither does the Army. The Army doesn’t want to fire on the populace. The silly test of crowd resolve, a bunch of civil servants and tourist guide union people “armed” with riding corps riding into the square, showed that the crowd wouldn’t disperse without serious action by the Army. Having the cops shoot people wasn’t in the cards. The Army told Mubarak to retire, with honor, and he has agreed to; luckily for all his term ends shortly anyway. The mob refuses to disperse; the Army waits. It hasn’t yet said it is time to go home, but many Egyptians would like to have an economy again. The feeling among many of the middle class is “He will retire, his son won’t run for office, well have a technocrat as the next President. What more do we want? We don’t like the Jews, but we don’t want another war either.”
There will be elements who want to provoke the Army, and there are reports of shooting at the bridges.
The Al Jazeera footage shows night fighting with night sights on weapons; that’s probably the police. It wasn’t indiscriminate firing. Unlikely to be the Army.
Assuming that things don’t boil, Mubarak will leave in the fall. With military honors, and he will take up residence somewhere near government house, probably with a role much like Clinton has.
That will be in Fall. There is enough time to have some organization of a “loyal opposition” and that will probably happen. Meanwhile there are food riots across the Arab world, and the US continues to subsidize burning corn in automobiles so we can avoid importing oil from countries that pay for wheat and maize.
UPDATE: Clarice Feldman (via Insty): The Incredible Lightness of Obama.
The Egyptian, an 82-year-old with terminal cancer, easily bested the community organizer, the man elected by people who quite clearly confused the last presidential election with an American idol contest. While many who elected the American president probably do not yet realize it, it is lucky for them that he lost the showdown, for had he not, the results would have created worldwide havoc and devastation.
The man who in 2009 in Cairo said, “So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed on one nation by any other” was now dictating to Mubarak the kind of government Egypt should have and when it should have it. Mubarak noted only the obvious: that if he stepped down immediately, the situation would devolve into chaos. The rulers of Egypt have a stake in its continued existence which supersedes Obama’s adolescent moral preening. Had Obama any real interest in democracy in Egypt, he would have followed Bush’s lead and done something to help bring that about before this.[…]
I think it’s a good rule of thumb that whenever Obama begins a statement with “Let me be clear,” he means quite the opposite of whatever follows. And someone might whisper in his ear that if you run around the world bowing deeply before foreign rulers and undermining your country’s moral position and standing in the world, you cannot expect to have your imperious demands be taken seriously abroad.