The ninth paragraph down gives you a nice sense of the protesters’ sentiments.
Not for one moment do I maintain I am some sort of subject matter expert on Egypt. Presumably we have several subject matter experts on Egypt in the State Department and hopefully they were and are regularly consulted. If they were then this statement from Secretary Clinton may be the best long term strategy for the US, but I doubt it.
The United States is THE big dog. At present there is no one as big. I have absolutely no problem with that. If you do then ask your self this, who would you prefer was the big dog? China? Russia? Not only is it the best thing for me as an American that the US is the dominant power but I believe it is the best thing for the world as well.
The problem with being the dominant power is that people, quite understandably, resent it. If we were to make the absolute best choice in every aspect of our foreign and domestic policy some degree of resentment would be unavoidable. When we factor in our honest mistakes the resentment grows. However, when we make decisions that are blatantly because they are in our own short term best interest even though they run completely counter to our ideology (i.e. the stuff we tell everyone else to do because we do it) we sow the seeds of deep anti-American sentiment.
Check out the Wikipedia page on the 2011 Egyptian Protests for a good overview of what has been happening and why. The protests have been going on for over two weeks. This is not some vocal minority. The protesters would not be able to endure for two weeks without support. Those protesting have not had the same idea of what they want but they are nearly unanimous in what they don’t want. They don’t want any of the Hosni Mubarak regime left in power. In comes the US and what do the Egyptians get from our Hope and Change White House*? The Egyptians can trade Mubarak’s bull-crap for his vice president’s horse-pucky.
*[I'm not saying the Republicans wouldn't do this but that President Obama doesn't actually stand for anything unique. He's just a new version of the same old story.]
This is the sort of decision that will haunt us. We are saying we only support democracy and self determination if it will lead to something we can control or agree with. It fuels extremists and supports the mission of nut-jobs like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It undermines our work in Iraq and Afghanistan. We cannot win hearts and minds if people will not trust us.
I’m not saying leaving the people in a country free to make their own choices can’t make for a difficult situation. Hamas getting elected in the Gaza Strip is a good example. What I would say though is that these difficulties are less likely to happen if we don’t needlessly piss people off in the first place.