Egypt — What Happens Now?

I have been watching the events in Egypt over these 18 days and it was clear that the country had risen together for a single cause — the removal of President Hosni Mubarak. But as I have suggested before, a revolution does not a democracy make.

There can be no orderly transition of government in Egypt in the midst of chaos. The protestors have made their point. They have won the day: Murbarak has resigned.

Now leadership must emerge to make choices for the future in a calm and deliberative manner. For true democracy to result there must be a peaceful and orderly transition of power — not to a military regime, but to a new republic. Vice President Omar Suleiman, the military, and yes, Mr. Mubarak himself, must work to calm the people and create the proper environment for a new Egypt to emerge. The Muslim Brotherhood has offered assurances that it is committed to nonviolence and has no special agenda in the current uprising. It, too, must work to achieve calm and restore order. It is essential, therefore, that the people return to their day-to-day lives in Egypt, to normalcy, while their leaders work to build an interim government. (They can, and should, return to the streets, if progress is unsatisfactory.)

Together the new leadership will need to start from scratch, building new institutions and, I would humbly suggest, drafting a new constitution — so lacking in legitimacy is the current one.

For our part, in the West, we must shed the misguided notion that Egypt is not ready for democracy, that without Mubarak it will become a bloody place, hostile to the West and to Israel. Precisely the opposite is true.

While we have spent hundreds of billions of dollars trying to bring democracy to the Middle East through our misadventure in Iraq, the Egyptians have proven it can be done through fortitude, courage and spirit. 

Jami Floyd is an attorney, broadcast journalist and legal analyst for cable and network news, and is a frequent contributor to WNYC Radio. She is former advisor in the Clinton administration and served as a surrogate for the Obama campaign on legal and domestic policy issues.