I am watching and following the events in Egypt with great interest. Of course as a technologist-of-sorts who studies complexity I am interested in the role of social media in enabling such a distributed movement to coalesce. Unlike what happened in Iran in June 2009, this uprising seems likely to have a longer-lasting impact on Egypt’s institutions.
The British journalists on Al Jazeera are asking about the domino effect and whether or not this will be the equivalent of 1989 and countries “throwing off the Soviet yoke”. Or will this bring a “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” switch from one authoritarian regime to another? The lessons of economics indicate that for the sake of the Egyptian people, their prosperity and well-being, and their living standards, institutional change that brings an increase in individual liberty.
There’s an important point relevant to U.S. policy and the economics and morality of our spending U.S. taxpayer dollars on military aid to such authoritarian regimes. We spend over $1 billion dollars on aid, including military aid, to Egypt. Today that authoritarian regime has turned its arms on its citizens who were protesting peacefully, including turning water cannons on people at prayer. Such aid has neither consequentialist nor moral economic foundations, should never have existed, and certainly should not continue.
Some in the media are starting to see this, although in today’s press conference no one pressed Robert Gibbs enough on this. CNN’s Ben Wederman is on the ground in Cairo, and sent this tweet:
Teenager showed me teargas canister “made in USA”. Saw the same thing in Tunisia. Time to reconsider US exports?
As the kids say these days, peace out.