It seem to be getting harder and harder to tell the true democracies. OWS protestors have been tossed out of their peaceful encampments by police from Oakland, CA, to New York City. And in my old campus (!!) of the University of California at Davis, police used pepper-spray to dislodge peacefully seated protestors.
I guess I’d say pepper spray may be preferable to the beatings with truncheons and batons that characterizedpolice/protestor confrontations in the 1960s. But the actions were still rather severe for response to a peaceful, on-campus protest. Students and faculty are calling on Chancellor Katehi to resign, but (like Mubarak?) she is resisting.
Yet the real violence occurred in Egypt, where ten people were killed and over a thousand injured in police confrontations with protestors who demonstrated against the army’s announced plans to insure themselves a special role — above the law — in a new, ‘democratic’ Egypt.
Elections are scheduled for Egypt next week, opening months of planned electioneering and contests to choose a popular assembly. But the real drama may play out in the streets. Either the military will enforce its will regardless of the elections, in which case Egypt slides back to a military dictatorship, or the army will be forced to stand down, and electoral democracy will triumph and the military forced into a far lesser role than they had expected.
Which outcome is more likely? Quite a lot depends on the international community. Given their condemnations of state violence in Libya and Syria, I imagine that the regional powers (Turkey, Arab League) will not find it easy to stay silent on Egypt if deaths mount. And the U.S. should be telling the SCAF that this level of violence is unacceptable and threatens continued financial support for the military.
The protestors have been driven from Tahrir square (showing that if the army had wanted to squash the January 25th revolts, they likely could have easily done so). So the next move may be a return to strikes and marches. It will bear close watching to see how things unfold; this is a sensitive moment — perhaps the military move toward counter-revolution that we have been expecting (recall that many major revolutions, from the Mexican Revolution of 1910 and the Russian Revolution of 1917 to the anti-Soviet revolution of 1990 were met with efforts by the military to-reimpose order through counter-revolution.)
Usually such efforts at counter-revolution fail, and that is what I would expect here.