It would appear that the US government is under no illusions as to the viability of Hosni Mubarak's government. Having supported the dictator for decades, it is now preparing for his imminent exit after witnessing extraordinary protests around the country. From the Independent:
Talks are under way between the Obama administration and top Egyptian officials on the possible immediate resignation of President Hosni Mubarak and the formation of a military-backed caretaker government that could prepare the country for free and fair elections later this year, US officials say.
With protests in Cairo and other Egyptian cities expected to grow in size and intensity Friday, the administration fears they may erupt into more widespread violence unless the government takes tangible steps to address the protesters' main demand that Mubarak leave office quickly. Creation of an interim government is just one of several possibilities under discussion, the officials said late Thursday.
It is interesting to watch the drastically different approach taken by the Obama Administration to the Middle East as compared to the previous government. The Bush Administration would have never let reality interfere with US policy towards Egypt, and would have insisted on backing Mubarak, a trusted ally, regardless of the massive popular resistance. But Obama is no idiot, and he recognizes that the tide for change is too strong and there is little the US can do to change the outcome. Where the US once sent bombs, tanks and men to implement its grand designs in countries like Egypt, it must now be content to sit by the sidelines and hope for an outcome that is not too harmful to its interests.
Bogged down in two unwinnable conflicts in the Middle East, the US must now accept its role as an influential, but drastically muted spectator as events unfold in countries it once controlled.
We are witnessing drastic change and self determination on one side of the globe, and the decline of an empire on the other.