Do Israelis or their neoconservative Jewish supporters in America have a more accurate assessment of Israel's best interests vis a vis Egypt? The invasion of Iraq and its aftermath suggest the neocons are more likely wrong.
But the events in Cairo have exposed a schism between two longtime allies: neoconservative Republicans, who strongly advocate democracy and the George W. Bush "freedom agenda" around the globe, and Israelis, who fear that a popularly chosen Islamist regime could replace that of President Hosni Mubarak.
I suspect the Israelis fear an inevitability. So it really does not matter whether any neocons support Mubarak's approaching loss of power. It will happen regardless of what the United States does.
I do not expect great improvements in Egypt as a result of regime change. Ouster of a secular dictator and replacement with a popularly elected government that enforces more Islamic law isn't going to bring on a new era of freedom and tolerance. The protesters are frustrated by high food prices, corrupt government, and poor career prospects. They are not pushing for freedom of religion or equality for women.
On the bright side, Egypt under democracy probably won't be radically worse than it would have been under Mubarak Junior either. The bad trends in Egypt (growing population in a resource poor nation, more intense embrace of Islam) will continue regardless of whether Egypt gets democratic Muslim rule or if a different top officer from the military takes over.
Writing at The Corner on the National Review Raymond Ibrahim thinks the US can make a big difference in how events unfold in Egypt. Count me skeptical.
It is clear that the media’s host of analysts is split into two camps on the Egyptian revolution: one that sees it as a wonderful expression of “people power” that will surely culminate in some sort of pluralistic democracy, and another that sees only the Muslim Brotherhood, in other words, that sees only bad coming from the revolution. These extremist views need balancing. The fact is, depending on what the U.S. does—or doesn’t do—the result of this revolt could either be the best or worst thing to happen to the Middle East in the modern era.
The world does not revolve around US foreign policy. The ability of the US to influence events in other countries is exaggerated by too many commentators who debate US foreign policy. America's influence around the globe is much exaggerated.
The Egyptian military wants to continue getting a few billion dollars per year from US taxpayers. So that gives the US some leverage. But the protesters aren't going to be swayed much by what the US government says. The revolutionaries are much more focused on domestic concerns, including battles with Mubarak's security forces. They've got street battles to win.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2011 February 02 10:43 PM MidEast Insurgencies|