The Egyptian people are joyful, enthusiastic and excited seemingly without exception. After so many years of autocratic rule they are shedding tears of relief in anticipation of having a voice in their own government. When you listen to interviews it is heartwarming to see them excited in anticipation of democracy and self rule.

Unfortunately, there is some cause for some concern. They rose up against someone, but not for anyone. Like the Tea Party, they have no supreme leader. Who will they choose? Mubarak’s departure has left a vacuum, a crisis of sorts. The Chinese character for crisis is a combination of the characters for danger and opportunity. That perfectly describes the situation in Egypt at the moment.

Contenders for assumption of power are the military, the Muslim Brotherhood, and an assortment of other groups most of us in the West know nothing about. Military rule may be benign, but it won’t be democratic. The Islamic faction that dominates the Muslim Brotherhood would impose the strict Islamic law known as sharia. It seems clear that Islamic rule is not what the majority want.

Mubarak’s Egypt was a stabilizing force in the region. That is one reason why the United States was so supportive financially. Egypt has by far the largest military force in the Arab world. It is unlikely Israel could successfully defend themselves now, in they way they did when Egypt attacked in 1948.

The Shah of Iran was also an autocratic ruler. He was also deposed by a populace seeking the freedom of being out from under his thumb. The laws under the Shah were the most liberal of any in the Mid-East Muslim world. Instead of more freedom, the people of Iran got less. Not only that, the rest of the world is facing a problem that it never would have seen under the Shah. Let us hope such a fate does not befall Egypt and the rest of us.

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