Perhaps Mubarak would have been willing to sacrifice all this to stay in power. As it happened, a growing crew of movers and shakers, including the military leadership, major businessmen, foreign investors, and interested foreign governments saw a far more appealing alternative solution.
Weil Ziada, head of research for a major Egyptian financial firm, spoke for the business and political class when he told Guardian reporter Jack Shenker on February 11th:
"Anti-government sentiment is not calming down, it is gaining momentum"This latest wave is putting a lot more pressure on not just the government but the entire regime; protesters have made their demands clear and there's no rowing back now. Everything is going down one route. There are two or three scenarios, but all involve the same thing: Mubarak stepping down -- and the business community is adjusting its expectations accordingly."
The next day, President Hosni Mubarak resigned and left Cairo.
President Obama, remember this lesson: If you want to avoid future foreign policy Obaminations, be aware that nonviolent protest has the potential to strangle even the most brutal regime, if it can definitively threaten the viability of its core industries. In these circumstances, a mass movement equipped with fearsome weapons of mass disruption can topple a tyrant equipped with fearsome weapons of mass destruction.
A professor of sociology at Stony Brook State University, Michael Schwartz is the author of War Without End: The Iraq War in Context (Haymarket Press). Schwartz's work on protest movements, contentious politics, and the arc of U.S. imperialism has appeared in numerous academic and popular outlets over the past 40 years. He is a TomDispatch regular. His email address is Email address removed. To listen to Timothy MacBain's latest TomCast audio interview in which Schwartz discusses the Egyptian revolution and the power of nonviolent disruption, click here, or download it to your iPod here.
Copyright 2011 Michael Schwartz