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Kristen Breitweiser

Kristen Breitweiser

Posted: February 11, 2011 06:35 PM

Today's victory of the peaceful Egyptian protesters torpedoes the notion that the only effective means to an end in the Middle East must center on violence.

For two weeks now, the news covering the Egyptian Revolution has been split between two very clear groups: those who supported authentic democracy in the streets; and others who locked into their own fear or hypocrisy saw the protestors as a grave threat to our "security."

Indeed warnings were whispered about the terrible things that could happen if the "wrong" people were put into power in Egypt. Radical Islamic leaders could step up to power and destroy the region; Egyptians are incapable of achieving their own democracy: WWIII is on its way; and of course, the sky was also falling.

Yet for two weeks, many of us continued to "naively" believe in these brave, young Egyptians. Along with my 11-year-old daughter, I sat riveted and inspired as we witnessed a people's -- not a leader's or a ruling elite's -- peaceful revolution. Recognizing that the protestors' courage was not driven by religion or anger but by a common and peacefulunderstanding that Egyptians simply deserved and wanted better for themselves and their country.

Fancy that -- peace -- being used as a means to an end in the Middle East. Who would ever dare to think it? But we did.

So, when Homeland Security Advisor Janet Napolitano commented this week about the continued risk of another terrorist attack, it brought UBL and my fear of violence back to the forefront. Napolitano literally killed my Egyptian-high.

And given the timing of Napolitano's statements dovetailing with the events unfolding in Tahrir Square, I almost thought it was another play on fear. But then I remembered that Bush was no longer in office.

What did induce fear in me, however, was how breathtakingly off-base and out-of-touch some of our leaders and experts seemed to be on the Egyptian situation. Clearly, there needs to be a postmortem. And given CIA's recent past history of being "duped" by other Middle East dictators/tyrants, I hope that any excuse given based on Mubarak misleading them, or reneging on a promise is flatly rejected. Egypt is the second largest recipient of US foreign aid and also considered an ally. It is frankly stunning to consider that we did not have a better handle and more reliable "intelligence" on the situation.

But at this point for me, the most meaningful takeaway has been the Egyptian protestors incredible ability to achieve their victory while remaining peaceful throughout.

On the days when Mubarak's people injected violence into the crowd, they stood strong and stayed peaceful. In the hours when the they looked for encouragement and found only shaky support from nations like the United States, they remained steadfast and peaceful. For the weeks when faced with very little food, water, shelter, or modern comforts, the protestors remained calm, hopeful, but above all else, peaceful.

For a group of people who allegedly shouldn't dare be trusted nor given a chance to run their own country, they sure showed us all a thing or two.

For a population who undoubtedly has been under-educated, oppressed, and neglected for 30 years, these young, underestimated Egyptians certainly found a sophisticated, organized, and thoughtful voice.

Indeed, it would seem a most noble voice for the rest of the world to follow.

In the very shaky, difficult days ahead, both my daughter and I will be rooting for that noble voice to remain true.