Courtesy Reuters

With Hosni Mubarak's announcement yesterday that he would not seek a new term as president, the Mubarak era in Egypt came to an ignominious end. Although the Egyptian military may yet find a way to allow for a relatively graceful exit, Mubarak's historical legacy is sure to be colored by the very factors that led to his downfall: political alienation, economic dislocation, corruption, and the precipitous decline in Egypt's regional influence. After the chaos of this past week, not even his claim to have brought stability to Egypt will survive. 

Yet the seeds of Mubarak's demise were sowed long ago. Although he came to power promising reform and vowing not to seek more than one term, Mubarak quickly became enamored with the power of the presidency and saw himself as indispensable to Egypt's future. He had witnessed first hand the drawbacks of Gamal Abdel Nasser's experiments with socialism and Arab

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  • STEVEN A. COOK is Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle East Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. His book on Egyptian politics will be published in the fall by Oxford University Press.
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