The Egyptian military has, so far, shown enormous restraint in response to what is likely serious pressure from pro-Mubarak forces. When our Western eyes saw protests flash across their Al-Jazeera web-feeds, many of us had the same thought: "I hope this doesn't turn into Tienanmen Square". And, to our surprise, it hasn't. Sure, there has been brawls and scrapping, but the military has not gunned civilians down.
Part of this is the professionalism of the Egyptian Military officers that were trained in the United States. Thousands of Egyptian Officers have been trained in the U.S. In addition to training on tactics, equipment, theory, and technical skills, they have been trained on the role of the military in a democratic and open society.
We should thank the hippies for some of this. For decades the "School of the Americas" and other programs where foreign military personnel were trained were notorious for cranking out goons for third-world dictators. Survivors brought their stories to American human rights organizations and the reputation led them to push for the shut down of the School of the Americas and other facilities.
After decades of pressure, the SOA changes it's name to the "Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation", and more importantly they added mandatory classes in Human Rights and the proper role of the military in democratic societies. An example from the 2004 Course List:
CMS-2 Democratic Sustainment Course Course Length: 6 weeks
To introduce and teach theory and practice of military and civilian leadership in a constitutional nation-state, drawing on the shared traditions of the countries in the Western Hemisphere. This course explores the role of the military within a democratic and constitutionally derived, civilian-controlled government. The American Council on Education (ACE) has recommended three university credit hours for this course based on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Troy State University.
These courses have been mandatory for officers receiving training the the U.S. for years now at the WHISC and elsewhere, thousands of mid-grade officers in nations like Egypt have been through them, and whether this was a genuine act of decency or just something to make the hippies happy, it looks like it might be changing the world for the better.
Imagine that: A program that was the poster-boy for dictators, human-rights abuses and military coups might become a institution of progress throughout parts of the world that need progress very badly. Maybe hippies and soldiers should work together more often.