Egypt protests: 10 reasons why Americans should care.

Global politics, economics, and ideas.
Feb. 10 2011 8:05 PM

10 Reasons Americans Should Care About the Egyptian Revolution

From the U.S. budget to Israel, from morality to Facebook, here's why you should be following the amazing events in Cairo.

This article comes from our partners at Foreign Policy.

If you're a reader of my  blog, you probably care a lot about foreign policy and you've probably already been riveted by events in Egypt, including President Hosni Mubarak's  latest attempt  to cling to power by offering largely meaningless concessions. But maybe one of your friends has asked you why Americans should care at all about who is governing that country, or why it matters what its political system is. Although I think one can exaggerate Egypt's importance to the United States, here are ten reasons why Americans should care about what is happening there.

1. Money
The United States gives Egypt about $2 billion each year in economic and military aid (mostly the latter). This is partly a bribe to reinforce the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, and to encourage Egypt to collaborate with us in other ways (extraordinary rendition, anyone?). That's not a huge amount of money for a nation whose economy is $13 trillion, but in these troubled budgetary times, every dollar counts. So if you care about  where your money is spent  and on whom, you might want to pay attention to Egypt.

2. America's Reputation 
Whatever strategic benefits we've received from the tacit alliance with Egypt (and there are some), it has also associated us with a government that buggered elections,  tortured its own people, suppressed free speech, and behaved in a lot of other unpleasant ways. Backing Mubarak at all costs thus made the U.S. look hypocritical at best and callous at worst. And that's why you might want to ask whether change is a good thing from America's point of view, to say nothing of the Egyptian people.

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Stephen M. Walt is the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University.