Robert Springborg has a rather convincing piece at Foreign Policy about why it's "Game Over" for Egyptian democracy and how America has helped the Egyptian army maintain control.
The military will now enter into negotiations with opposition elements that it chooses. The real opposition will initially be ignored, and then possibly rounded up. The regime will do all possible to restore a sense of business as usual. Cell phone and Internet connections have already been re-established, and automatic teller machines are functioning, though banks remain closed so there can be no run on them. Businesses will be encouraged to reopen, and all possible will be done to ensure a flow of essential supplies into Cairo, Alexandria, and Suez.
The last challenge remaining is economic. Even before demonstrations broke out a few weeks ago, the economy was just limping along. It is now broken. Even in the best-case scenario of a rapid return to stability, Egypt faces a cash crunch. Capital flight, loss of foreign direct investment, drying up of tourist revenues, downgrading of sovereign debt and commensurate increase in interest, and lost earnings from interrupted production will all hammer the revenue side of the balance sheet. The expenditure side will be placed under yet more stress by acceleration of inflation already running at 10 percent, devaluation of the currency, and need to repair damage resulting from the clashes. Egypt will have to turn to its "friends" if it is to avert economic disaster and if the regime that just narrowly survived defeat is not to be challenged yet again.
The Obama administration, having already thrown its weight behind the military, if not Mubarak personally, thereby facilitating the outcome just described, can be expected to redouble its already bad gamble. Fearing once again that the regime might be toppled, it will lean on the Europeans, the Saudis, and others to come to Egypt's aid. The final nail will be driven into the coffin of the failed democratic transition in Egypt. It will be back to business as usual with a repressive, U.S.-backed military regime, only now the opposition will be much more radical and probably yet more Islamist. The historic opportunity to have a democratic Egypt led by those with whom the U.S., Europe, and even Israel could do business will have been lost, maybe forever. Uncle Sam will have to eat yet more humble pie, served up by the dictator who has just been insulting him.
Supporters of "stability" may be heartened by this news but, as Springborg points out, our backing of the military's power play will only radicalize the population further, thus making the next uprising much worse for America and Israel.
Read the whole thing.