Watching the fall of Hosni Mubarak's modern Egyptian dynasty has been as thrilling as watching the dismantling of the Berlin Wall. Throughout this 18-day reclamation of a country by a brave and extraordinary people I've been both jubilant and pensive. Recent history has seen the fall of the U.S.S.R. and has also witnessed the Shah flee Iran and Marcos high tail it out of the Philippines. The Berlin Wall and the flight of megalomaniac dictators create huge vacuums in countries, if not the world.
What follows, however, is not always America.
Americans always find that surprising. Freedom, they believe, can only mean one thing, as in "how we do it right here, in the good old U S of A."
As a historian I don't know for sure what will unfold in Egypt in the immediate future or what the country will look like in several years. I think I can, however, look at what's happened, what's presently happening and, factoring in some additional information, I think I can make some reasonable predictions or at least suggest key areas of concern that need to be closely watched.
One thing I'm fairly certain will be true is this: Egypt is not going to look like us or the Canadians or the French or the Germans anytime soon.
Let's look at what we do know about Egypt:
1. Who's Running the Show.
Well, we know it's not "the people." For all practical purposes, the reins of power have been transferred to the army.
A 16-member Supreme Military Council took over when Mubarak resigned Friday, February 11th. The Council granted unto itself nearly unlimited powers and confirmed that Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi was Egypt's new head of state. Tantawi has previously served as Egypt's Defense Minister.