Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Those Blessed Soldiers

A recent NYT article by David Sanger explains the critical role that militaries play in political evolutions or revolutions. Essentially, he documents that military institutions have their own interests in mind, whether it be to preserve their power or their largesse. I don't doubt for a minute that such is the case, but I'm struggling to see the relevance here - at least on the ground, amongst the everyday citizen.

The unity between soldier and civilian is densely evident here. The military is ever-present - at least anywhere near Tahrir Square - with tanks stationed at major intersections, or blocking access (especially on days when foot traffic to the Square is going to be so heavy that the tanks prevent the access of cars).

But there is no menace, no personal barriers. Indeed, one imagines that were it not for protocol, soldiers would be linked arm in arm with citizens. This has been one of the most moving experiences to feel the unity and the sense of honor and protection most feel from their soldier brothers (haven't seen any females soldiers yet).

So, it may well have been the case that the Egyptian military made a calculated decision to not support the falling regime in favor of the people for the self-interest of the military elite. But, for those who don't occupy that luxurious space of enjoying and preserving wealth and power - solider and citizen alike - the decision seems but a natural unity born of the joint recognition of collective intrusion and massive constraint on dignity and freedom.

For, after all, "We are all Egyptians."

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