Egypt — President Hosni Mubarak’s speech is the equivalent of Gary Cooper, Charles Bronson or Clint Eastwood sneering, “You want power? Come and get it!” He may be a dictator but he is one tough dude.
Or maybe he is a dictator because he is one tough dude. The most important thing spoken during this whole crisis was when Mubarak told President Obama that he didn’t understand Egyptian (Arab) culture.
Mubarak meant that in Arab culture you don’t give an inch unless you are prepared to have your enemy take a mile. If you back down, you’re kicked down. Once that process starts the result is not a slippery slope, it’s an avalanche. Unlike the American leadership, Mubarak and his colleagues know that the Muslim Brotherhood is not a group of social welfare advocates or moderate reformers.
They have watched as one place after another – Iran, the Gaza Strip, and then Lebanon – has fallen to revolutionary Islamists. And they saw how in nearby Algeria when the gates of power were opened the result was a civil war in which tens of thousands of people died.