After the dramatic Tunisian uprising in the Middle East, violent unrest has broken out in Cairo and other Egyptian cities. Nowhere is the U.S. dilemma more urgent than in Egypt, writes Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center and a fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.
“The January 14 popular revolt in Tunisia, the first ever to topple an Arab dictator, has called into question a basic premise of U.S. policy in the Middle East – that repressive regimes, however distasteful, are at least stable. Tunisia was considered one of the least likely to fall, but it fell.
“But in the growing battle between Arab autocrats and popular oppositions, the U.S. is finding itself torn between the reliable allies it needs and the democratic reformers it wants.
“The U.S. is the primary benefactor of the Egyptian regime, which, in turn, has reliably supported American regional priorities. After Iraq, Afghanistan, and Israel, Egypt is the largest recipient of U.S. assistance, including $1.3 billion in annual military aid.
“But autocracies don’t last forever. This is what decades of democratic transitions in Eastern Europe, Latin American, and Sub-Saharan Africa – and perhaps now Tunisia – have shown us. The U.S., then, finds itself in the unenviable position of being a status quo power in a region where so many detest the status quo, wish to fight it, and may – or perhaps inevitably will – one day bring it crashing down.
“Fortunately for American policymakers, the Egyptian regime will not fall tomorrow. The U.S. has a limited amount of time to, first, re-assess its Middle East policy and, then, re-orient it to ride with, rather than against, the tide of Arab popular rule. It can begin distancing itself from Mubarak by stepping up public criticism of regime repression and deepening contacts with the full range of Egyptian opposition – liberals, leftists, and, yes, Islamists alike. It is better to have leverage with opposition groups before they come to power than afterward…” More here…
(YouTube scene above:Egypt gets its Tiananmen square moment. Man bravely stands in front of armored vehicle!)
Swaraaj Chauhan describes his two-decade-long stint as a full-time journalist as eventful, purposeful, and full of joy and excitement. In 1993 he could foresee a different work culture appearing on the horizon, and decided to devote full time to teaching journalism (also, partly, with a desire to give back to the community from where he had enriched himself so much.)
Alongside, he worked for about a year in 1993 for the US State Department’s SPAN magazine, a nearly five-decade-old art and culture monthly magazine promoting US-India relations. It gave him an excellent opportunity to learn about things American, plus the pleasure of playing tennis in the lavish American embassy compound in the heart of New Delhi.
In !995 he joined WWF-India as a full-time media and environment education consultant and worked there for five years travelling a great deal, including to Husum in Germany as a part of the international team to formulate WWF’s Eco-tourism policy.
He taught journalism to honors students in a college affiliated to the University of Delhi, as also at the prestigious Indian Institute of Mass Communication where he lectured on “Development Journalism” to mid-career journalists/Information officers from the SAARC, African, East European and Latin American countries, for eight years.
In 2004 the BBC World Service Trust (BBC WST) selected him as a Trainer/Mentor for India under a European Union project. In 2008/09 He completed another European Union-funded project for the BBC WST related to Disaster Management and media coverage in two eastern States in India — West Bengal and Orissa.
Last year, he spent a couple of months in Australia and enjoyed trekking, and also taught for a while at the University of South Australia.
Recently, he was appointed as a Member of the Board of Studies at Chitkara University in Chandigarh, a beautiful city in North India designed by the famous Swiss/French architect Le Corbusier. He also teaches undergraduate and postgraduate students there.
He loves trekking, especially in the hills, and never misses an opportunity to play a game of tennis. The Western and Indian classical music are always within his reach for instant relaxation.
And last, but not least, is his firm belief in the power of the positive thought to heal oneself and others.