Unfortunately, the British reporter Robert Fisk says that the US had short window of opportunity where
Had [Obama] rallied to the kind of democracy he preached here in Cairo six months after his investiture, had he called for the departure of this third-rate dictator a few days ago, the crowds would have been carrying US as well as Egyptian flags
But no. All this was squandered in just seven days of weakness and cowardice in Washington – a gutlessness so at odds with the courage of the millions of Egyptians who tried to do what we in the West always demanded of them: to turn their dust-bowl dictatorships into democracies. They supported democracy. We supported "stability", "moderation", "restraint", "firm" leadership (Saddam Hussein-lite) soft "reform" and obedient Muslims.
Personally, I supported Obama's stance, seeing a careful neutralism as the best chance for a good outcome, but Fisk is right. When you have an uprising where
Women in chadors and niqabs and scarves walked happily beside girls with long hair flowing over their shoulders, students next to imams and men with beards that would have made Bin Laden jealous. The poor in torn sandals and the rich in business suits...
You then have a real, live “people-powered” revolution that will simply not be denied. Is this revolution going to be good for the US? Will it serve US interests? Fisk states that he is not of the opinion that the revolution in Egypt is Islamic in character. He feels that it is Egyptian, that the people control how it's going and that no single group is in control. And you know what? That's not our problem. It's their country and how they conduct their self-government is their concern.
As Maureen Dowd pointed out today, for Americans to freeze up and mis-react would hardly be new. G. W. Bush and his Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice completely misjudged the appeal of Hamas to the Palestinians and forced the followers of Hamas into the open-air prison of Gaza instead of doing anything to try and work with Hamas. Bush's pretty words about democracy were revealed to be just that, pretty words. His words were revealed to be hollow and without substance as he had shown that he had no respect for the choices that Palestinians had made.
Obama, in his administration's latest responses, appears about to repeat Bush's sorry performance. As of February 2nd, the battle for Egypt's public spaces has reached a violent stage, with Mubarak's people acting in a very well-organized way and energetically pushing back against the protesters. Previously, we heard that they were ransacking homes in an attempt to divert protesters from the streets (See 5:25 & 5:00).
…Heck, even four Israeli journalists have been arrested for trying to report on events. The government doesn’t want anyone to see what happens next.
If Obama wants to get in front of events and place himself on the right side of history, he doesn't have much time left. If he's comfortable putting himself on the side of a dictator who conducts a massacre, well, he only has to keep dithering.