Shibley Telhami in The National Interest:
This is a moment in history to watch in awe: Millions of newly empowered citizens peacefully overthrew a regime that has been an anchor of regional politics and American policy in the Middle East. It is a moment to savor the pride, the dignity, the empowerment.
While the immediate focus will inevitably be on the start of a new era with all its unknowns and complexities, we need to think deeply about the meaning of the Egyptian uprising and its implications for American foreign policy. A good place to start is to reflect on three powerful conclusions of one of the key young organizers of the uprising, Wael Ghonim, as he was interviewed on Egyptian Dream TV and elsewhere since.
First, this uprising is less about food and more about dignity. Sure, poverty, especially in the extreme, can add to people’s sense of humiliation and powerlessness, particularly where the gap between rich and poor is growing. But neither Ghonim nor his fellow organizers were poor or underprivileged—even if the revolution ultimately became far broader in its scope and more varied in its makeup.
Second, Ghonim, weeping, pronounced to his audience repeatedly, “We are not traitors, we are not traitors,” without any prodding from his interviewer. It is hard to overestimate the deep fear of foreign control that is prevalent in the political culture, not only in Egypt, but elsewhere in the Arab world, and which is cultivated by governments in the region to rally the public behind them. Egyptians and Arabs want liberty and freedom from repressive regimes, but many fear imperialism and outside domination even more.