The American-Israeli led anti-democratic alliance

“Never insult the Arabs,” advised Amos Gilead, former head of Israel’s Political-Military Bureau, speaking on Monday at the influential Herzliya national security conference.

But he wasn’t appealing for an improvement in Israeli-Arab relations since he only had a few Arabs in mind — Hosni Mubarak and other leaders “that are supporting stability and are coping with terror and have proven themselves along decades.”

As for Gilead’s views about the advance of democracy in the region, such a prospect presents nothing less than a path to hell.

“If we allow,” Gilead said, then edited himself realizing that democracy should not be presented as something Israel can allow (or forbid) and thus he continued in less instrumental terms, “or if there is democrative process in the Middle East, it will bring for sure — or, let’s say, quite sure — dictatorships which will make this area like hell.”

The Obama administration — which has yet to face any form of governmental pressure it was willing to resist — is now showing itself in much deeper sympathy with those voices who present democracy as a threat than those who claim democracy as their right.

The New York Times reports:

As the Obama administration gropes for the right response to the uprising in Egypt, it has not lacked for advice from democracy advocates, academics, pundits, even members of the previous administration. But few voices have been as urgent, insistent or persuasive as those of Egypt’s neighbors.

Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates have each repeatedly pressed the United States not to cut loose Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak, too hastily, or to throw its weight behind the democracy movement in a way that could further destabilize the region, diplomats say. One Middle Eastern envoy said that on a single day, he spent 12 hours on the phone with American officials.

There is evidence that the pressure has paid off. On Saturday, just days after suggesting that it wanted immediate change, the administration said it would support an “orderly transition” managed by Vice President Omar Suleiman. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said that Mr. Mubarak’s immediate resignation might complicate, rather than clear, Egypt’s path to democracy, given the requirements of Egypt’s Constitution.

“Everyone is taking a little breath,” said a diplomat from the region, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was discussing private conversations. “There’s a sense that we’re getting our message through.”

While each country has its own concerns, all worry that a sudden, chaotic change in Egypt would destabilize the region or, in the Arab nations, even jeopardize their own leaders, many of whom are also autocrats facing restive populations.

Like frogs that refuse to jump out of pot of hot water because its temperature is only rising slowly, those autocrats and their Western allies who now equate stability with their ability to act as a judicious brake on change, have a will to survive that is guiding them down a path of self-destruction.

Slow but sure are the watchwords of the proponents of an “orderly transition” to democracy in Egypt. Yet even as they profess a desire to see democratic change unfold and claim no interest in dictating the outcome of a democratic process, this posture of non-interference is contradicted by a clear intent to dictate the pace of change. The will of the Egyptian people will be respected — but not just yet.

What the West is telling the Arab world is this: be patient living under dictators we like because if you get rid of them you’ll end up being ruled by dictators we don’t like. Now, as ever, the West treats Arabs as being incapable of building their own democracies.

But beneath this veneer of contempt lies a much deeper fear: that a Middle East made up of truly self-governing independent nations fully in control of resources upon which the West depends will no longer bow to Western interests. That’s a prospect the West dreads to contemplate.

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  1. Good to hear saner thoughts. The fears that have been expressed only fuel distrusts between neighbors. The comments that Egypt doesn’t want to go back on a war footing with Israel, that Egypt would in all likelihood honor the peace agreement is again encouraging. The facts be known, the past is just that. I’ve said many times over, that the M.E. can be a powerhouse in its own right, that even though the Israeli’s live in the middle of the Arab culture, there is no reason that they can’t work to the betterment of all. I just see that the Israeli’s have been sniveling so long, that they may not be able to get beyond that.

  2. Colm O' Toole says

    Exactly right.

    The Muslim Brotherhood has said they will not field a presidential candidate and Robert Fisk (who is reporting from Cairo) says that the Muslim Brotherhood could probably get 25-35% of the vote.

    So the question is: If the Muslim Brotherhood are not running in the Presidential elections why is the US continuing to insist that elections will led to Anti-Democratic forces taking over?

    In all truth the US must know that Egypt is not going to fall to Islamists (at least not in the next 5- 10 years. It fears not Islamists but free Egyptians.

  3. Maybe Obama’s greatest fear is that a democratic government in Egypt might invite him to come and make a speech in Cairo — and tell the truth this time.

    All the petty dictators and autocrats in the Middle East have been bombarding Washington with pleas to save their rotten skins — it must be true, because the New York Times reports it — and the administration listens and complies. We could never receive more solid evidence of the dishonesty and duplicity of American diplomacy. The Empire is rotten to its core. When food prices go through the roof later this year, all those corrupt clients of Washington will fall like ninepins and the region will become free! Now, wouldn’t the millions of unemployed in the West — impoverished because Wall St is more powerful than any president — like to be free of Washington’s meddling in their lives as well?