It would be a massive understatement to say the United States was caught off-guard by the unrest in Egypt. Just last week, Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Clinton both gave some level of assurance that all was well within the Middle Eastern country.
What a difference a week makes!
But let's be honest. We're always caught off-guard by the struggles in the Mideast. We continue to issue the same tired refrain that all we want is freedom and democracy for all the people of the world.
At some point we must begin to understand that our definitions of freedom are vastly different from those of others. And to impose our values on others is a risky business at best.
I don't fault the administration for this lack of understanding. Virtually every administration has been mistaken in reading the tea leaves of the Mideast. Maybe we're just not able to grasp the notion that these struggles are centuries old in many cases. If we think we can impose modern solutions to ancient problems, perhaps we're just wrong.
This Egyptian turmoil simply underscores our growing and urgent need to reduce dependence on oil from that region. But despite the zealots - and they are numerous - this is not the time to push our "green" movement to radical new heights.
This might be an appropriate time to renew our efforts in producing oil in regions that provide safe havens.
Alternative energy options may well define our future. But I suspect that future is much further down the road than some would have us believe.
Much of our problem in the Middle East is that we are often forced to choose between the lesser of two evils. To do so is risky.
Our State Department's response over the weekend is that we back neither side in Egypt - we back the people. Well, that might sound good but it's fairly weak foreign policy.
Nothing like a good uprising to knock our economic woes from the front pages. Unfortunately, this is not the first nor will it be the last time that we revisit the concerns in a part of the world that holds significant importance for our future.
Instead of choosing sides, it's time we find common ground to make that part of this world less critical to our interests.
Drill for oil in this country and in those locations that hold our interests at heart. And at the same time continue to explore those energy options that are cost-effective and job-producing.
We may not have the luxury of waiting for the full "green" revolution. We might well need to find a solution that we know is available while the energy technology of the future is refined.
And quite honestly, we may not have a choice.