The following comment (NYT Picks) was published online for Thomas L. Friedman's "Out of Touch, Out of Time":
What heart-warming and reviving stories from Tahrir Square! One could only imagine how proud these millions of Egyptians are these days, and as the world awaits to celebrate their victory, it is important to remind of the many martyrs and sacrifices that the Egyptian heros have given for the pursuit of freedom. Therefore, no one should seize that away from them! No intervention is acceptable in the name of support, peaceful transition, or stability -- Not from Israel, not from Saudi Arabia and certainly not from the US.
Let us be straightforward, no one is 'out of touch or time' here, Mubarak is in fact very in-touch and he is merely standing his ground, illustrating how a Pharaoh legacy lives on. Not to mention the many parties with interest in him remaining in power and ensuring to pass it on to Suleiman, namely: the US and its allies: Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan, UAE, to name a few.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Obama has managed to refrain from taking sides meticulously since the inception of the Egyptian revolution. His language has been misty and mysterious --On the one hand, he cannot (boldly) support Mubarak and loose (more) credibility in the eyes of the world for not supporting democracy, a tool exploited in the last US intervention in the ME (Iraq). On the other hand, he could also not (boldly) support the Egyptian people and risk loosing the other dictator allies in the region, because the control of the region is too valuable to squander.
One cannot miss the perfect symmetry which characterizes both sets of speeches: always an hour apart and always in harmony, where Obama has mildly set the scene for Mubarak; for example: Mubarak not running in the next term in the second speech, and the importance of a 'peaceful transition' in the third speech. It is unclear as to what both Obama and Mubarak mean by a "peaceful transition" and how long such a transition would last, it seems that it may, after all, be five months.
Obama's use of the word "support" for a peaceful transition signaled a possible inevitable intervention, and his misleading phrase of "witnessing history" does not necessarily signal any possible stepping-down. In fact, a revolution in-the-making is in reality a history in-the-making.
By his vigorous statement that no Western intervention has ever been agreed to in the past, nor will it be acceptable today, Mubarak attempts to announce a 'rally around the flag,' which has clearly gone astray. In short, Mubarak has indeed 'rented' Egypt to the West over the past three decades, will he not do the same in this defining moment?