However one views Hosni Mubarak, can anyone in their right mind still hold on to the idea that he is an anchor of stability?
Israel called on the United States and a number of European countries over the weekend to curb their criticism of President Hosni Mubarak to preserve stability in the region.
Jerusalem seeks to convince its allies that it is in the West’s interest to maintain the stability of the Egyptian regime. The diplomatic measures came after statements in Western capitals implying that the United States and European Union supported Mubarak’s ouster.
Israeli officials are keeping a low profile on the events in Egypt, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even ordering cabinet members to avoid commenting publicly on the issue.
Senior Israeli officials, however, said that on Saturday night the Foreign Ministry issued a directive to around a dozen key embassies in the United States, Canada, China, Russia and several European countries. The ambassadors were told to stress to their host countries the importance of Egypt’s stability. In a special cable, they were told to get this word out as soon as possible.
Stability is of course a political cypher — like moderate — a term far removed from its literal meaning.
When Israelis and Americans refer to Mubarak’s capacity to maintain stability, they are simply referring to his willingness to implement policies that serve Israeli and American interests. He’s been useful. And the fact that calls are now being issued from Western capitals making it clear that now is the time for him to step aside, have less to do with support for the democratic aspirations of the Egyptian people than the fact that Mubarak has clearly suddenly lost his utility.
Still, if the US and its allies have provided a less than spirited defense of democracy, this does not mean that whatever government eventually replaces the Mubarak regime will be a Western-approved government. Mubark’s rule and his departure reflect the limits of Western power, while those who see an American imperial hand shaping all events are in varying degrees victims of the most disabling political mindset — one born from surplus powerlessness.
What Mubarak demonstrates is that stability is not a function of the power to exercise control, but on the contrary the ability to adapt. In a world in flux, adaptation is the key to survival. Stasis is not stability — indeed the longer change remains frozen, the more violent the subsequent rupture.