This is disheartening, but not all that surprising to those of us familiar with the administration's "split the difference" style. Too bad that approach won't do much to address the concerns of the people who risked life and limb to overthrow a
February 6, 2011

This is disheartening, but not all that surprising to those of us familiar with the administration's "split the difference" style. Too bad that approach won't do much to address the concerns of the people who risked life and limb to overthrow a dicator, because their lives are still at risk if you leave the same dictator and his secret police in power:

CAIRO — The United States and leading European nations on Saturday threw their weight behind Egypt’s vice president, Omar Suleiman, backing his attempt to defuse a popular uprising without immediately removing President Hosni Mubarak from power.

American officials said Mr. Suleiman had promised them an “orderly transition” that would include constitutional reform and outreach to opposition groups.

“That takes some time,” Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton said, speaking at a Munich security conference. “There are certain things that have to be done in order to prepare.”

But the formal endorsement came as Mr. Suleiman appeared to reject the protesters’ main demands, including the immediate resignation of Mr. Mubarak and the dismantling of a political system built around one-party rule, according to leaders of a small, officially authorized opposition party who spoke with Mr. Suleiman on Saturday.

Nor has Mr. Suleiman, a former general, former intelligence chief and Mr. Mubarak’s longtime confidant, yet reached out to the leaders designated by the protesters to negotiate with the government, opposition groups said.

Instead of loosening its grip, the existing government appeared to be consolidating its power: The prime minister said police forces were returning to the streets, and an army general urged protesters to scale back their occupation of Tahrir Square.

Protesters interpreted the simultaneous moves by the Western leaders and Mr. Suleiman as a rebuff to their demands for an end to the dictatorship led for almost three decades by Mr. Mubarak, a pivotal American ally and pillar of the existing order in the Middle East.

Just days after President Obama demanded publicly that change in Egypt must begin right away, many in the streets accused the Obama administration of sacrificing concrete steps toward genuine change in favor of a familiar stability.

“America doesn’t understand,” said Ibrahim Mustafa, 42, who was waiting to enter Tahrir Square. “The people know it is supporting an illegitimate regime.

Oh, I think America understands. It's just that we don't really like democracy when it gets in the way of our plans!

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