Friday, February 11, 2011

What Next After Egypt’s Internet Revolution?

After weeks of digging in like a Tennessee tick on a hound dog, Egypt’s de facto President/Dictator emeritus, Hosni Mubarak, hightailed it out of the country and turned the reigns over to the military. In what was widely viewed as the Internet’s first revolution, proclamations of victory for the people resonated from Twitter feeds around the globe. Yes, shouts of victories from the Twitterverse and blogsphere, the vast majority of whom aren’t Egyptian. I shit you not.

Oddly, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hailed the victory for the people, fresh off using military hit squads to murder protestesr and opposition supporters in his own country just a couple of years ago. Again, I shit you not.

Of course, Ahmadinejad cloaked his proclamation as a victory over the “satanic” influences of the West (read: the United States of America). Unconfirmed are rumors that he celebrated by going out and buying a new, ill-fitting, not-so-stylish brown suit.

So, okay, internet citizenry, what’s next? We can’t just go haphazardly overthrowing governments in the name of democracy without executing a good follow-up plan. Where’s the follow-up plan for Egypt?

First, it better entail cleaning up all the mess of the past few weeks and making the country safe for tourists. Without tourism, Egypt is forced to fall back on its secondary and tertiary industries of … yeah, I’m stumped on that one too. Textiles? Sure, that’s just the sweatshop industry to bring hope of prosperity to a country with double-digit unemployment, a GDP per capita of just $6,200 US, and over 20% of the population living in poverty.

Listen, before we go get the internet up in a storm over some other country, let’s finish the job in Egypt. That entails, my friends, doing some big-time praying and crossing of fingers, for the ambiguity of the near- and long-term future of the country opens the doors to some not-so-pleasant outcomes.

For the United States, and pretty much all of the non-Muslim world, there are two major question marks surrounding Mubarak’s exit, primarily:

1. What’s the status of the Suez Canal? Said differently, will it stay open to American warships and international commerce vessels?

2. What’s the status of Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel?  Said differently, what are the odds of the entire Middle East being eventually nuked  into a sheen of solid glass?

Did you wonder by Ahmadinejad was so happy today? He sees an opportunity – a door open for him to stick in his toe and the toes of the Muslim Brotherhood. With that door open, there’s lots of room to come in, rearrange the furniture, raid the refrigerator, and fondle the maid.

The best case scenario involves an open and public debate and conversation in Egypt, with the people choosing moderation and common sense, freedom and liberty. The worst case scenario involves replacing a corrupt dictatorship with a radical Islamic regime, providing no economic or political gain to the populace and doing nothing more than pushing worldwide defense systems closer to DefCon 1.

An interesting couple of months are ahead for all of us, Twitter and Facebook accounts notwithstanding. The internet revolution is the easy part. The internet reconstruction is a hell of a lot more difficult.

Of course, that’s just this guy’s opinion.

Tweet me up at @RayHartjen

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