It is hard not to marvel at democracy in action -- not in our own dissent challenged, complacent country, but in Egypt where millions have risked their lives in order to peacefully overthrow the dictatorial reign of President Hosni Mubarak.
In a leaderless revolt in Cairo, those who occupied Tahrir Square made an unspoken pact to stay there in a battle of wits and patience with a once feared president. In an almost amazing display of offers versus persistence, Mubarak decided to first not run again. The crowd was unmoved. He would leave after elections would happen in September. The crowd was unmoved. He would create a Vice President and new cabinet officers. The crowd was unmoved. None of this mollified the crowd who were on to Mubarak's false promises in the past. The military who could have ended this demonstration realized that killing their fellow citizens would be antithetical to their own mission in protecting Egypt.
Each day, the crowd grew rather than shrank as they realized that Mubarak had lost the respect of his own military and more significantly, his own people. Today, Mubarak realized that his last offer, transferring power to his Vice President was not enough and he resigned and left Cairo. The people united, will never be defeated.
Jubilation and pride were bursting from the faces of every Egyptian across the world. For a moment, the world joined in their feeling of joy as they reveled in what they had just accomplished -- a new country and a new found power in their own people.
More significantly, it was a coup created without war. Yes, there were over 300 lives lost -- martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the cause of democracy. But buildings still stand and the economy has every expectation to restart once the dust settles. It will be a marvelous sight to behold.
But there is another lesson learned in all of this. Bush and his neocon cronies tried to bomb Iraq into a democracy with "shock and awe" bravado. The cost was over 4,000 American soldiers who died, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens killed, a country devastated by war, a strengthened Iran, and trillions of US dollars wasted.
The neocons will somehow gloss over this and point to the rise of democracy in the Middle East and declare to a naÃ¯ve American public that Egypt's transformation was somehow aided by the Iraq war. The mainstream media will be complicit in their unquestioning reporting. We will continue our false belief that democracy can be won in battle without learning the lesson taught to us by the power of the Egyptian people. One cannot help but wonder, if we just waited in Iraq, would the Iraqi people have created their own democracy and what would America be today with 4,000 more soldiers and $3 trillion dollars which we could invest in our own country? That is the lesson of Egypt for America.