Egypt's anti-government protests intensified on Friday. Demonstrators calling for the ouster of longtime President Hosni Mubarak clashed with riot police, firing tear gas, rubber bullets, and water cannons. Mubarak's regime has tried to squelch protestors' ability to communicate with each other by shutting down internet connections and cellphone service, but organizers still managed to rally thousands in the streets of Cairo for what they dubbed "Angry Friday." The Obama administration is openly supporting demonstrations sweeping across the Arab Middle East, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged the Egyptian government to "respond to the legitimate needs" of its people. Should the U.S. be doing more to help the protesters? (Watch Joe Biden's comments on the issue)
Yes, we should help push Mubarak out the door: "The people of Egypt are sick of Mubarak," says Barbara Slavin in AOL News, "and after 30 years they have every right to be." Mubarak has not been "a complete failure" — he has made "modest economic reforms," coordinated the fight against terrorists, and "maintained a cold peace with Israel." But the Egyptian people deserve more, and "Americans, of all people, should be on the right side of history and support the aspirations of Egyptians for peaceful political change."
"The U.S. should back Egypt's democrats"
Be careful what you wish for: Yes, Hosni Mubarak is "a de facto president-for-life" with a "track record of political suppression," says Ed Morrissey in Hot Air, so "it's almost impossible" for President Obama to endorse him. The trouble is, "if Mubarak falls, the result will almost certainly be either a seizure of power by the Muslim Brotherhood or a military coup." And "by signaling sudden distance between Mubarak and the U.S., "we could make an Islamist coup more likely, and that could unleash "a nightmare scenario for Israel."
"Uh oh: White House declines to endorse Mubarak in Egypt"
This is tricky, but Obama should do more: Yes, one reason we're so afraid of what will happen if Mubarak falls, says National Review in an editorial, is that his "sclerotic one-man rule" has "systematically neutered his organized democratic opposition, leaving the Islamists as the most obvious alternative to him." The Obama administration must make it abundantly clear to Mubarak that we'll only support him if he opens Egypt's political system, now. That way, change can come "gradually through the democratic process rather than all at once in the streets."
"Mubarak should go — but not yet"