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Rule 5. Outside support can help, but it can also be a source of danger.
The United States has been careful in what it says about the situation in Egypt. President Obama has made clear his support for the protesters' values but insists it is up to Egypt to find its way. The administration has warned Egypt not to engage in widespread violence against demonstrators but has been careful not to be seen as endorsing a change in the regime of one of its key allies in the Mideast.
Some inside Egypt have called on Obama to take a more forceful stand on behalf of demonstrators since the United States has long been a symbol of democratic reforms.
The problem of how much support to give dissidents is one with which the United States has wrestled before, such as in Iran.
It was during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution that the question of U.S. support was put to the test during the Cold War with the former Soviet Union. In October 1956, a student demonstration in Budapest got out of hand when some protesters tried to enter the building housing the state radio station. Eventually, police fired on the crowd, sparking violence throughout the capital. The government fell, and a period of turmoil began, with new militias being formed and new government groups taking power on the local level.
There was a feeling that the Hungarians could rely on the United States to help keep the former Soviet Union from asserting control over its satellite. The Eisenhower administration was emotionally on the side of the protesters. And the government-financed Radio Free Europe broadcast U.S. support for the rebels' goals. But when the dust cleared, Eisenhower refused to risk U.S. troops to help the Hungarians. When the former Soviet Union invaded on Nov. 4., more than 2,500 Hungarians and 700 Soviet troops were killed in the conflict, and 200,000 Hungarians fled as refugees.
Photo: Russian tanks roll through Budapest in 1956.