President Obama needs to stop being two-faced on Egypt.
He pressed Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak to consider his legacy and "leave power in a way that would give his country the best chance for peace and democracy." But then he sent presidential envoy Frank Wisner to Cairo, who urged Mubarak to remain in power, saying, "President Mubarak's continued leadership is critical."
Obama should consider his own legacy and let the American people know whose side he's on: the dictator's, or those who clamor courageously for democracy.
Mohamed ElBaradei, Egypt's Nobel Peace Prize recipient, has blasted Obama's stance by saying: "To ask a dictator to implement democratic measures after 30 years in power is an oxymoron. It will not end until he leaves."
Unlike Obama, ElBaradei actually earned his Nobel Peace Prize. When he headed the International Atomic Energy Agency, ElBaradei stuck his neck out against President Bush and his false claims about Iraq's nuclear weapons program.
In demanding an end to Mubarak's dictatorship, ElBaradei stands alongside Nawal El Saadawi, a leading Egyptian feminist, sociologist, medical doctor and writer.
He stands alongside Ahmed Maher, a leader of the secular, pro-labor April 6 movement.
He stands alongside Asma Mahfouz, whose Internet video outlining Mubarak's abuses went viral.
He stands alongside Wael Ghonim, a Google employee detained for two weeks by Egyptian security forces as the protests began.
He stands alongside dissident Ayman Nour, a former presidential candidate and member of the Egyptian parliament who was imprisoned for four years by the Mubarak government for political reasons.
They -- and millions of other Egyptians -- are facing and fighting injustice. Meanwhile, Obama seems intent on managing injustice.
Obama shouldn't be playing games with the Egyptian people, but that's what he's doing. At the moment, the Obama administration seems to be hoping that Omar Suleiman, Egypt's ex-spy chief and now vice president, can reshuffle the government and things will quiet down. Suleiman was Washington's "point man" in Egypt for the policy of renditions, according to The New Yorker. This is the CIA's policy of kidnapping detainees and shipping them to countries like Egypt, where they're often tortured. Suleiman himself has a brutal reputation.
So one thing is for certain: Suleiman is not the man to bring democracy to the country. Obama should be standing squarely not with Suleiman but with the Egyptian people.
If the United States is going to talk the talk of freedom and democracy, then it has to walk the walk. Anything less is hypocritical.
Kevin Alexander Gray is the author of the recently published books "Waiting for Lightning to Strike: The Fundamentals of Black Politics" and "The Decline of Black Politics: From Malcolm X to Barack Obama." He can be reached at email@example.com.
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