Let me finish tonight with handy American rules for dealing with overseas revolutions.
One, always be on the side with nationalism. Always, always back the people fighting against oppression by another country.
In 1954, we got on the wrong side of nationalism in the Vietnam war. We had backed the French when they fought Ho Chi Minh to maintain their rule there in the early 1950s - and took up the fight against Ho when the fight shifted to the south.
However, in 1957, Senator Jack Kennedy spoke out on behalf of the Algerians fighting the French. It was a daring move that singled him out as a visionary. He was breaking with the old World War II alliances to back an emerging people in its struggle for independence.
In the 1960s, Kennedy often expressed his friendship with African countries recently broken free from colonial rule. Tragically, we had already begun sinking into the Vietnam morass.
In the 1980s, the United States rooted for the liberation of countries in Eastern Europe from Soviet domination. They couldn’t wait to join NATO and associate themselves with the west.
Rule two: always take the side of expanded popular rule. We backed Batista’s dictatorial rule in Cuba and paid for it when Fidel Castro espoused his loyalty to the Soviet Union. We backed the Shah and paid for it after the Iranian Revolution of 1979. We paid the price for that one.
This month, we rooted for the people in Tahrir Square and that will hold us in good story as the new government emerges.