Why Israel will Benefit from the Turmoil in Egypt

Here is quite a surprising quote from the normally-enlightening Caroline Glick, from the not-so-subtlely-titled Clueless in Washington:

When given the opportunity, the crowds on the street are not shy about showing what motivates them. They attack Mubarak and his new Vice President Omar Suleiman as American puppets and Zionist agents. The US, protesters told CNN’s Nick Robertson, is controlled by Israel. They hate and want to destroy Israel. That is why they hate Mubarak and Suleiman.

What all of this makes clear is that if the regime falls, the successor regime will not be a liberal democracy. Mubarak’s military authoritarianism will be replaced by Islamic totalitarianism. The US’s greatest Arab ally will become its greatest enemy. Israel’s peace partner will again become its gravest foe.

Understanding this, Israeli officials and commentators have been nearly unanimous in their negative responses to what is happening in Egypt. The IDF, the national security council, all intelligence agencies and the government as well as the media have all agreed that Israel’s entire regional approach will have to change dramatically in the event that Egypt’s regime is overthrown.

None of the scenarios under discussion are positive.


Let’s dissect that a bit.

First of all, it is clear that the Egyptians hate Mubarak because he is a repressive dictator, not because he is a stooge of the US or Israel. It is hard to believe that Glick wrote what she did.

Second, there ARE potential positive outcomes here.

For the US, a more democratic regime which is not dominated by Islamics would definitely be an improvement over the current dictatorship.

On the other hand, I have seen commentators that I trust who assert that this is unlikely given that the Moslem Brotherhood is the only well-organized opposition group, and they are highly-motivated and probably quite ruthless. There is a good chance that they will wind up on top when this is all finished and that would obviously be bad for US interests.

The Obama administration manages to come out on the wrong side of every upheaval, from Honduras to Iran, and now seems intent on doing the same in Egypt. As Glick notes, this is not due to “cluelessness” (as the title of her article implies) but rather due to ideological blinders:

It is this anti-colonialist paradigm, with its foundational assumption that that the US has no right to criticize non-Westerners that has informed the Obama administration’s foreign policy. It was the anti-colonialist paradigm that caused Obama not to support the pro-Western protesters seeking the overthrow of the Iranian regime in the wake of the stolen 2009 presidential elections.

And it is this anti-colonialist paradigm that has guided Obama’s courtship of the Syrian, Turkish and Iranian regimes and his unwillingness to lift a hand to help the March 14 movement in Lebanon….

Anti-colonialists by definition must always support the most anti-Western forces as “authentic.” In light of Mubarak’s 30-year alliance with the US, it makes sense that Obama’s instincts would place the US president on the side of the protesters.

How very sad that the Left is so often drawn to those who most want to destroy the West.

That said, Israel’s interests are somewhat different than those of the US in this case.

It is in Israel’s interests that Egypt be either pacified or weakened.

Like the US, Israel probably would benefit from a more democratic regime in Egypt, assuming that the Islamics didn’t wind up running the show. Israel fears Egypt could one day join another war against her. In a dictatorship, the decision to go to war ultimately rides on the whims of one man, and there is little doubt that Mubarak or any of his likely successors would gladly go to war against Israel in the right circumstances. Democracies however are less likely to go to war, and an Egyptian democracy would lower the risk of war even if the average Egyptian hates Israel. A democratic Egypt will be more pacified and therefore that benefits Israel.

And if the Islamics take over, Egypt will be weakened.

Mubarak successfully played the bad-cop-worse-cop game with the US for decades — support me, he said, or else you will get the Islamic fanatics instead. The Americans turned a blind eye to, and even tacitly supported, his oppression, and gave him money and weapons which could easily be used against Israel.

This is the same game that Arafat played — support me, or you will get the Hamas — and it is shocking that the Israeli Right that rightly opposed Arafat should now support Mubarak. Israel should have opposed both Arafat and the Hamas, just like it should have and still should oppose both Mubarak and the Moslem Brotherhood.

If the Moslem Brotherhood gains power in Egypt, in the short term Israel will gain yet another fundamentalist neighbor and that will not be pleasant. But that neighbor will immediately lose the knee-jerk support of its current patron, the US. When the financial aid drops to zero, and when the cool weapon systems and spare parts stop pouring in, Egypt’s power will begin to melt away. Just as happened in Iran after the Shah fell. It is unlikely that the Shah’s Iran would have lost a war with the much-smaller Iraq like Khomeini’s Iran did not long after the revolution.

Therefore Israel’s worst-case scenario is probably the present one.

Israel should do whatever it can to insure that Mubarak is replaced by some kind of democratic regime, with the Islamics kept out. But should the Islamics come to power Israel should maximize the natural instincts of the US to withdraw its support from and actively oppose such a regime. The fall of Egypt as power in the Middle East is likely to follow forthwith.

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