Friday, February 11, 2011

Google's Wael Gonim in Egypt: "This Revolution Started On Line"

We awakened this morning, to revolution in Egypt.

"Revolution 2.0 has happened!" That's what Wael Gonim, the young Google executive, said on CNN this morning when it was announced that Egypt's Hosni Mubarak has "stepped down."

I suspect, after Mubarak refused to quit last night, the U.S. trained military took him to one of those undisclosed locations where he is now going to remain for some time. Egypt's Vice President looked somewhat ashen when he made the announcement of the "change" in government.

He's probably being held in the same place.

Gonim, meanwhile, was both humble and exuberant. He is the young man who helped get the demonstrations for democracy in Egypt going, through Facebook and Twitter, before he was arrested by Mubark's thugs and kept blindfolded for twelve days as the movement grew white hot.

Today, on CNN, he said he'd like to meet Facebook's Mark Zukerberg personally and thank him. (He'll be getting that call very soon--don't you think?)

He also thanked the international media saying the cameras in the square had helped save lives during the time when Mubarak sent out his bullies to beat up demonstrators and reporters--thinking that would help bring an end to the furor.

Does Gonim see himself in politics? "I want to go back to my job," he said. He's young, idealistic, has an American wife and works for Google in the Middle East. "I am not an expert on international relations," he said. "But this is a revolution of the people."

What does that mean?

The quote I heard from former CIA director James Woolsey today--"The revolution devours his own children"--has been attributed to more than one person, but, it is an apt quote that interjects a note of caution amidst the celebrations.

The challenge with revolutions, as history shows us, is that into the vacuum and chaos that follows, new tyrants and demagogues often rush in, where angels fear to tread.

In this case, it appears the Egyptian military, with its strong ties to the U.S., secured the country before "helping" Mubarak make his decision to "turn over power"--right after he announced on television Thursday night he wasn't going to do that.

Egypt has been a great ally of the United States, since Anwar Sadat signed the peace treaty with Israel more than thirty years ago.

Now, America has a real opportunity to make an even greater friend, by helping the Egyptian military lead that ancient nation to a true democracy. We can do it if we use great skill. And this will be a test for the Obama administration's skill.

The Reagan administration was able to help lead a nation like Portugal out of that darkness of its socialist/communist government--years before the fall of the Soviet Union--with economic encouragement. Portugal is now a member of the European Union.

Let's hope "revolution 2.0" in Egypt is aided by us to remain as democratic, optimistic, and peaceful as it began. American ingenuity, via the Internet, helped get it going. Let's hope America, with its own history of a positive, democratic revolution, befriends these wonderful people and helps them as they aspire to be free.

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