These days anyone can pass themselves off as an expert in geopolitical events. Has the world become this predictable? Why yes... yes it has. I'm going to throw my hat in the ring here with the disclaimer that the only educational credential I have on commenting on this issue is that I'm a member of the human race and have watched the news for 30 years.
That being said... Mubarek is regarded as a "friend" to the United States. So was the Shah of Iran. What they both have in common is that they were dictators. Hands down. There was and never has been a democratic government in the Middle East as far as I'm concerned, and there will most likely never be. Hell, there's really not a democratic government here is the U.S., either... that's another debate for another day.
As I listen to a commentator on FOX News call this the beginning of "big changes" in the Middle East I cannot help myself but to think "REALLY??? - The real question is when will it STOP changing?" There is only one concern the Western World has with Egypt... OIL. We all know it. Sure, Egypt will become a net importer of oil soon, but the Suez Canal is the key.
The United States' concerns about who comes to power boils down to one thing... will they play nice with us or will they not? That's it. That's all. Oh... and the chances of that happening are pretty damn good considering half of our military lives in Iraq now.
As far as a power vacuum? There will never be one as long as we are there. Agree or disagree... I don't care. As long as we are there, militant factions will resist us, creating the illusion that we MUST stay. Oh, what a wicked web we weave...