View Full Version : Comparing 1979 to 2011 Images Gives Clues to Egypt's Future

01-31-2011, 07:52 PM
It is not hard to compare the fragile political landscape in Egypt right now to where Iran was in the late 1970's. The Washington Times editorial page has a new piece out this morning describing that the players are not only similar in the Middle East but also in the United States: ("Channelng Jimmy Carter")

As Egypt’s regime totters on the verge of collapse, President Obama is looking less like Ronald Reagan and more like the Gipper’s predecessor, Jimmy Carter. The turmoil in Egypt is markedly similar to the revolution that gripped Iran 33 years ago. Egypt may be to Mr. Obama what Iran was to Mr. Carter.

President Carter’s emphasis on human rights in foreign policy set the stage for the 1979 revolt in Iran. Like Mr. Obama, Mr. Carter adopted a tone of moral superiority to the policies that had preceded him. When small-scale demonstrations began to break out in Iran in the fall of 1977, the State Department simply chastised the Shah’s government, which had been a firm U.S. ally, to get ahead of reform or get out of the way. This emboldened the oppositionists, a mix of liberal reformers and radical followers of the exiled Ayatollah Khomeini, who kept up the pressure.

A year later, the situation had deteriorated to the point where the Shah’s regime was hanging by a thread. Crowds were in the streets, the security forces were crumbling, and the Ayatollah Khomeini’s influence was growing. Mr. Carter abandoned human-rights posturing and informed the Shah that he should do what he needed to keep order. By then, it was too late. The Shah fled in January 1979, Khomeini returned in February, and in March a referendum eliminated the monarchy and established an Islamic Republic. Khomeini ruthlessly purged the disorganized liberal oppositionists and consolidated his brutal dictatorship, the excesses of which were far worse than anything perpetrated by the Shah.