Hosni Mubarak’s argument for remaining in power is that he is Egypt’s best and only chance at stability, because he is the only one with the capacity to control the forces of Islamic extremism.
This is reminiscent of Machiavelli’s advice to princes: find a problem for which you alone are the solution. This will keep your people beholden to you and fearful of any alternative to you. If this means manufacturing a crisis or threat, so be it.
The success of Mubarak’s claim validates what Machiavelli believed about his advice–that it would apply to princes in any historical context. For thirty years, Mubarak’s argument has worked, at least in the United States, and it continues to have a hold over the US foreign policy establishment, even as millions of ordinary Egyptians are inspiring the world with their defense of political liberty.
The problem with the argument is that it was Mubarak himself who systematically purged all opposition parties, except for the Muslim Brotherhood. And it has been Mubarak himself who has alternately empowered and subverted the Muslim Brotherhood as it has suited him.
Mubarak has consciously created the very problem, for which he now claims he is the solution, and somehow, some in the US seem to be still buying it.