Analysis & Opinions - Foreign Policy

10 Reasons Americans Should Care About the Egyptian Revolution

| February 10, 2011

From the U.S. budget to Israel, from morality to Facebook, here's why you should be following the amazing events in Cairo.

If you're a reader of my blog, you probably care a lot about foreign policy and you've probably already been riveted by events in Egypt, including President Hosni Mubarak's latest attempt to cling to power by offering largely meaningless concessions. But maybe one of your friends has asked you why Americans should care at all about who is governing that country or why it matters what its political system is. Although I think one can exaggerate Egypt's importance to the United States, here are 10 reasons why Americans should care about what is happening there.

1. Money
The United States gives Egypt about $2 billion each year in economic and military aid (mostly the latter). This is partly a bribe to reinforce the Egypt-Israel peace treaty and encourage Egypt to collaborate with the United States in other ways (extraordinary rendition, anyone?). That's not a huge amount of money for a country whose economy is $13 trillion, but in these troubled budgetary times, every dollar counts. So if you care about where your money is spent and on whom, you might want to pay attention to Egypt.

2. America's Reputation
Whatever strategic benefits the United States has received from the tacit alliance with Egypt (and there are some), it has also associated the country with a government that buggered elections, tortured its own people, suppressed free speech, and behaved in a lot of other unpleasant ways. Backing Mubarak at all costs thus made the United States look hypocritical at best and callous at worst. And that's why you might want to ask whether change is a good thing from America's point of view, to say nothing of the Egyptian people's....

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Stephen M. Walt, the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international affairs at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and a contributing editor at Foreign Policy, is the author of Taming American Power: The Global Response to U.S. Primacy and, with co-author John J. Mearsheimer, The Israel Lobby. He blogs at

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For Academic Citation: Walt, Stephen M..“10 Reasons Americans Should Care About the Egyptian Revolution.” Foreign Policy, February 10, 2011.