Several members of Oregon's congressional delegation today were quick to issue statements praising protesters in Egypt for finally ousting President Hosni Mubarak.
"February 11th will live long in the hearts of all Egyptians," U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said in a statement. "Eighteen days of peaceful protest have accomplished a remarkable feat—the resignation of longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak."
"Today’s announcement that Hosni Mubarak is stepping down is long overdue," said U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.). "Since the widespread protests began in Egypt more than two weeks ago, it has been clear that the Egyptian people demanded better of their government than the repressive Mubarak regime."
But we were most eager to hear from U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.). The reason? DeFazio is the only Oregon politician so far linked to Mubarak in the leaked Wikileaks cables.
Prompted by a phone call from WW, DeFazio's office in Washington, D.C., released this statement: "I think it is an amazing demonstration of the human spirit that the people of Egypt prevailed over an entrenched dictator.”
Mubarak's downfall contains a bitter irony when placed alongside comments he made at a meeting with DeFazio and others in Egypt on a congressional delegation (a "codel" in diplomatic jargon) three years ago.
According to a May 2008 confidential cable about the trip published by Wikileaks last November:
Asked about whether the U.S. should set a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, Mubarak said "you cannot leave" because "you would leave Iran in control." Mubarak explained his recipe for a way forward: "strengthen the armed forces, relax your hold, and then you will have a coup. Then we will have a dictator, but a fair one. Forget democracy, the Iraqis are by their nature too tough."
As the Egyptians have proved today, even the reign of a dictator who believes he is "fair" eventually comes to an end.