Egypt and Democracy

To friends and colleagues on the bcc list. The American sense of democracy, human rights, transparent government and the rest of the list we all know pulls me in favor of the inevitable (now) changes coming in most of the autocratic regimes in the Middle East. But the issue of what the new regimes will be like gnaws continuously. We must not be sanguine about the outcomes. I think the risk of regional conflagration is high and rising.

This sobering summary below comes to me from a longtime friend, a skilled lawyer and prosecutor, who now spends some of his time in Jerusalem. Some may recognize him but I will preserve his anonymity for those who do know him. Note that, while Egypt remains in the top of the news, the spread of resistance and demonstration is rapidly occurring throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

D: An article appearing in today’s NYTimes by Helene Cooper and Mark Lander suggests, somewhat snidely, that it is ironic that Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, would be so wary of their neighbor wanting the same thing. Here’s a few facts that might explain why.

A poll taken by the Pew Research Center in late 2009 revealed that 95% of Egyptians, 96% of Jordanians and Palestinians and 98 % of Syrians and Lebanese hold hostile views toward both Israel and Jews. They simply do not want Israel here. What CNN is not showing but what we have seen here via Israeli journalists are many signs of Mubarak with the Star of David drawn around his face or next to him, both with diagnals across them. Any democracy, and its leaders, must answer to the people. If these are the people, what does that portend for any democratically elected government in Egypt? Whatever their internal and political differences, the one unifying factor for virtually all Egyptians is their hatred of Israel. It also explains why Israel was able to negotiate its two peace treaties with Arab dictators. They could not have done so with a democratic Egypt or Jordan. When that democratically elected government in Egypt comes to power, as it soon will, it will control a standing army of 500,000, an airforce of over 500 planes, half of them new F-16s, over 4,000 tanks, 1000 of which are new Abrams A1As,a dozen batteries of the most sophisticated anti aircraft missiles in the world and an untold number of Scud B rockets–much more accurate than those which Saddam Hussein threw at Tel Aviv in Gulf War I . All supplied by the US, of course. Who would they want to use them against? Libya? Sudan? So, yes, you might say we’re kind of wary. Wouldn’t you be? -Gerry

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