Hosni Mubarak is off to his summer home and it's not even summer yet. He'll probably have several hundred million in his pockets, diamonds would be best, as he makes his escape to pina coladas and beach chairs. How long, one wonders, will Egyptians attempt to hunt him down and make him suffer?
Very little has emerged from the past 18 day revolution that accuse Mubarak of anything especially heinous as dictators go. The familiar chorus of Arab humiliation sounds in the background, that is for certain one of the primary motivators in what we are coming to understand as Arab (peasant) politics. But he didn't gas his own people, didn't seem to mouth off about Israel, he didn't support radical terrorist or Islamist groups, he merely infantilized the population of Egypt by dominating the public sphere and ran the joint like a kingdom. There haven't been reports that reached my ears that suggested Mubarak's kingdom was anywhere nearly as severe as that of the Saudis, but it was a kingdom nonetheless. The greatest comfort can be seen in that the Army has been well-fed and is not antagonistic to the people. Even Mubarak's secret police only managed to create a few days of subversive chaos. My last count of 300+ dead amounts to a fairly bloodless affair as revolutions go. Mubarak, who has not gotten out of Dodge, may have the blessing of few great recriminations.
Omar Suleiman is the new Number One. I've heard that he is even closer to the CIA than Mubarak was. And if Leon Panetta got smacked about yesterday when Mubarak delivered his defiant speech, he can take comfort that he was only off by one day in his prediction of Mubarak's imminent departure from office. The drama is over and the Army takes over. Now everyone who has been shouting the same thing, more or less, for 18 days, can go home and think about what to do next.
One of my favorite aphorisms is that people don't have weaknesses so much as they overuse their strengths. When your back is to the corner and you must do something, you do that something that you know best, whether or not it's the right thing to do. Egypt's business has been disrupted by a dictator still dictating while the working classes stopped working. So when they go back to work, stability will ensue - but stability in a land ripe with new promise.
What we all should know is that whatever is said about the Army being in charge, there is a power vacuum, and into that vacuum ambitious humans will flow. They will be 'weak' by overusing their strengths. The Army will do what the Army does, only more. The opposition factions will keep hammering their same agendas. And of course our favorite boogie man, the Muslim Brotherhood, will keep its Islamist hopes alive. But how will the newly opened eyes of the common man be able to cope with the fact that Egypt's economy, education system, constitution and political parties are all the same things they were three weeks ago? They will remain unsatisfactory and soon they will come to realize that Mubarak himself was not the problem, but it was the shape of the state of Egypt. Egypt is a net importer of wheat not because Mubarak said so, but because they simply don't grow enough of it. The wheat traders are still going to be in business.
The Egyptians do not have democracy. They have hopes for it, and in time they will have a vision of it. With any luck next year this time, they will have a plan for it and will start moving forward. That will be more important than 'bringing Mubarak to justice' although it's not a bad idea. If I were Hosni, I would be drinking those pina coladas as fast as I can, because today, Egypt is no longer his headache and thankless responsibility. It falls to the People.