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Kathleen McCaffrey at Legal Insurrection joins the chorus:

I think it is of the utmost importance that [Mubarak] be tried and imprisoned for perverting the law and will of the Egyptian people for so long. Actions have consequences.

I and a couple of other commenters disagreed, eventually leading to the inevitable moonbattery:

Ah, some are defending Mubarak. Well that is interesting… If you can be a dictator for 30 years and just take your retirement when things start to get edgy, that’s a freebie.

Bullshit, Anon4PYWEBap. I’m trying to defend the Iranians, the Zimbabweans, the North Koreans, and even the Chinese. Mubarak himself, as an individual or even a tyrant, barely registers on the importance scale.

There are many more tyrants in the World, some of them worse than Mubarak on his worst day. Our goal should be to get rid of all of them. The task is made immeasurably more difficult if the tyrants know that, if they lose their grip on power, they will end up being nibbled to death by ducks. Tyrants have the machineries of State under their fingertips, and can (and demonstrably do) take whatever measures they think they might need for self-protection. The net effect is tighter tyrannies that are more difficult to dislodge, everywhere.

The majority of recent tyrannies got that way via the Road to Hell. The median tyrant of the last century or more took power by promising to fix the problems — Hope and Change! — with the support, however enthusiastic or grudging and cynical, of the populace. They gained the position of Great Leader, set out to implement the New Program, discovered opposition, and thought, well, just this teeny-weeny bit of oppression will solve the problem… rinse and repeat. Even Pol Pot, author of some of the most horrific acts of the Twentieth Century, started out with a vision of what problems existed, a program to fix them, and the support of Teh People. The ones who aren’t or weren’t actively insane, as Pol Pot clearly was, never intended repression or atrocities. They got there via the slippery slope of “I have to stay in power to fix the problems, this challenges my power, this is therefore part of the problem that needs fixing.” If you went back in your time machine and brought the Hosni Mubarak of 1980 to the Egypt of 2011, he’d very likely be in the streets wearing a bread helmet and protesting Teh Regime.

“You got me into this, you and your mother,” Mubarak reportedly told [his son] Gamal. “You have ruined my history in Egypt.”

Revenge can be soul-satisfying, but its results in the real world are generally nasty. Which would you prefer: Hosni Mubarak living a life of ease in the Gulf States and hobnobbing with Saudi Princes on a basis of near-parity, thus inspiring Muammar Qaddafi to expect the same soft landing — or a frail old man subjected to a show trial for Crimes Against Humanity while Mugabe and the Iranian Mullahs hire more “security” thugs, and the Chinese Politburo rounds up dissidents? If you chose the latter I regard you as a damned fool — noun and adjective both judiciously chosen — inspired by the same destructive impulses that guide the tyrants.

It’s not at all clear how many tyrants would be willing to let go if offered a soft landing. It is totally clear that if the soft landing isn’t possible, such retirements will not occur. What will happen, guaranteed, is more firing squads, broken heads, jail cells, and Internet clampdowns, as the remaining tyrants move to reinforce their power base. Displacing Mubarak may or may not be a good start; that waits on events. What is beyond doubt is that every call to punish the Eeevul Tyrant generates a significant increment in repression elsewhere. If that’s what you want, go for it.

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When I Posted

February 2011