Don’t just stand there forking yourself.
Some number of conservatives and libertarians in the non-leftist blogosphere are so concerned about Egypt falling under the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood that they are actually rooting for Mubarak to stay and for the protesters to lose momentum and go home. Their concern is merited. There conclusion is not.
The Muslim Brotherhood is a group of fanatical, extremist theocrats (that makes them worse than the serene, moderate theocrats). They don’t just support terror, they actively spread it. And people are right to be concerned that they could gain more influence as a participant of government than they currently enjoy as the Egyptian state’s boogieman; nurtured with one hand and suppressed with the other. Many Egyptians respond that the MoBro are not supported by most Egyptians and that is true, but Western Mubarak supporters point out that one could argue the same thing about the Iranian revolution at the time, and while the MoBro themselves may not be widely supported, many of their extreme views such as favoring stoning for adultery, supporting war against Israel and demanding death for apostates are widely held by the public.
Other examples of popular uprisings or expressions of democracy in the Islamic world have ended badly. Palestinians in Gaza elected a vile and bloodthirsty terrorist group to be their government. Lebanon sold its soul to the Hezbollah. Turkey continues to move towards Islamic extremism and Iran continues to be the bitch of the clerics, even after 30 years of misrule and periods of huge popular uprising in recent years. And hey, al Qaeda just came out in support of the protests. That must mean that it is good for terrorists if Mubarak falls, right? And hey HEY, the leftist media is supporting the protests. That MUST mean that it is good for terrorists if Mubarak falls, right? Or at least, bad for America and Israel.
Not in this case, surprisingly. So why not support a secular dictatorship in Egypt to keep a lid on extremism and terrorism? Firstly, it has not worked so far. The MoBro has been kept out of politics in Egypt but this has not cramped its style. It continues to spread hate and fund terror all over the region and across the world. Secondly, secular dictatorships, while far from secular in practice, do manage to make secular government seem like a bad option. Even if a switch to an Islamic theocracy was guaranteed it would transfer responsibility for society’s ills to the theocrats. The West can not quickly or directly change how Islamic or secular a given nation becomes but it can avoid giving that society an opportunity to lay the blame for their extremism on the secular tyrant and the Westerners who prop it up. The Iranian people are not as pro-American as they are because they want to go back to a secular tyranny but because America stand up to the Government of Iran whom they hate (at least they have historically). Just as the nations of Eastern Europe often have a better understanding of capitalism and democracy than those Western nations which never saw the real problems with socialism, so the people of Iran are probably the least likely of all people in the Islamic world to want a religiously governed state.
If other non-theocratic tyrannies in the Islamic world fall into a state of theocratic totalitarianism, it is not going to take 30 years before the first stirrings of public unrest start to shake halls of power again. The tools that are organizing dissidents in Iran like cell phones, twitter, Internet technologies etc. are already on the ground and more are coming down the pipe. Yes, al Qaeda supported the protesters but the Palestinian thugs in office are supporting the Mubarak. They have a history of betting on the lamest horse in the race. Like when they supported Saddam.
Speaking of which, I remember when the argument for keeping a dictator in place to prevent chaos was used to try to make the removal of Saddam and his Baathist party seem like a reckless and foolish act. Funny how our comfort with extending rights to others changes based on whether we see an obvious advantage or disadvantage to ourselves in the deal.
Democracy comes with risks and giving power to individuals over their own affairs gives them all sorts of opportunities to harm themselves and us and others. But there is no other sustainable choice (until my super intelligent war bots are ready to take control). Let the people make their choices and let them feel all the consequences of those choices.