Apparently the White House is so utterly out of its depth in the wake of the Egyptian events that it had to ask Reagan/Bush neo-con advisor Elliott Abrams for advice. Abrams was an architect of the illegal and immoral contra war against the legitimate, if problematic, Sandinista regime in Nicaragua in the 1980s in which thousands of Nicaraguans were killed or injured. Abrams was then tapped by the most recent Bush Administration to handle mideast affairs. It was during this period of course that repression in Egypt took on new heights and laid the groundwork for the revolution now underway there.
The White House problem is that they have no alternative to the Mubarak regime. Mubarak is an aging puppet now of the military and has been for several years. As the neo-liberal economic policies his government imposed on the Egyptian people over the last 20 years have taken their toll, the military and its allies in the Egyptian elite have their fingers in every major economic pie. As an article in Slate online noted, “Joshua Stacher, a political science professor at Kent State University who studies the Egyptian military, estimates that the military controls somewhere from 33 percent to 45 percent of the Egyptian economy.”
If the White House were to push Mubarak out of office – which is likely in any case within days – it would mean replacing him with open military rule, the real power, and that would strip American policy in the region of its last remaining shred of legitimacy.
This explains all the clap-trap about a “transition” period. The US Government is trying to build a bridge to a new regime that can carry on its global neo-liberal agenda, one recently reinforced by the State of the Union message of the President. In Egypt, Greece, Tunisia and elsewhere, however, new voices are being heard that say that era is at an end.