Friday, August 19, 2011

Egypt and Israel, the Future

In light of yesterday's horrific events in southern Israel where six civilians were murdered by militants who penetrated the Israeli Egyptian border I want to discuss the situation with Egypt post Mubarak, and whether or not the criticism aimed at the Obama administration for allowing the former regime to collapse is justified. Yesterday terrorists from Egypt, possibly Hamas members, cut through a border fence with Israel and opened fire on a bus killing six civilians and two police men. In response Israel bombed Gaza last night and there have been reports this morning of further attacks on Israel that have caused injuries. Perhaps most worrying of all is that it appears Egyptian soldiers may have been killed by the IDF as they were pursuing the terrorists back across the Egyptian border.

The scene of yesterdays terror attack in Eliat in which Arab terrorists opened fire on a civilian bus.

Since the Camp David Accords were signed in 1979 Egypt's border with Israel has been relatively secure. President Hosni Mubarak and the military regime which he exercised complete control of never broke the terms of the peace agreement. This proved extremely unpopular with elements within Egypt and the peace treaty with the Jewish state remains the nations' most contentious political issue. When Mubarak was overthrown last February the private fear of everyone was would the new regime honour the terms of the peace treaty. The collection of generals currently in charge have stated that they do intend to follow Mubarak's policy toward Israel. However the inevitable post Mubarak instability in Egypt that is likely to continue for some time has raised fears that a radical regime, possibly the Muslim Brotherhood will eventually take over in Egypt. In any event the situation on the border is certain to become much more precarious as the military in Cairo come under pressure to demonstrate to their people that they are not passive in front of Israeli aggression as the Muslim Brotherhood claim. If Egyptian soldiers have been killed by the Israelis, we might be seeing the beginning of the end of the Camp David Accords.

There is no doubt the instability in Egypt is a security nightmare for the Israelis. They have no idea how this will end but it could finish with Israel having a massive enemy on its southern border that will ally itself with Hamas. This has led many people to criticise President Obama for not supporting Mubark during the unrest. Many have compared it to President Carter's refusal to support the Shah of Iran prior to the 1979 Iranian revolution which brought the current fundamentalist regime to power in Tehran. My view is as follows. The United States should not support dictators unless it is vital to American security. The US should never back a dictator who is crushing an uprising against his people unless it is literally a life or death situation, cold war style. Even if there is a good chance that the fall of a dictator will result in a hostile regime I believe the US does not have the right to pull the strings behind the scenes and altar the course of events to suit American interests.

During the Cold War Uncle Sam and the Red Bear attempted to share a balance of power in order to prevent war. It was a horrendous but successful tactic.

During the Cold War an uprising in Cuba led to the overthrow of President Babtista, a right wing pro American dictator. The failure of the Eisenhower regime to prevent this from happening was a mistake as it almost led to World War Three which would have cost billions of lives. The Americans learned from this mistake and prevented similar things from happening in Chile, Argentina and Guatameala. These were exceptionally difficult decisions that had to be made but they were indicative of the lesser of two evils situation that characterised the Cold War. However since the end of the Cold War when global war was no longer a possible alternative, the policy of coming to the rescue of friendly dictators dissipated. The first real example of this came when President George W Bush refused to commit during an attempted coup against Venezuela's Hugo Chavez in 2001. Bush realised that in a post Cold War environment the policy of actively aiding a dictator to crush his enemies could no longer be justified. I believe that this is still the case. Whatever my feelings about Islamic terrorism and its global threat, I think it pails in significance to the threat once posed by the Soviet Union. That is why the American President, this year or next should continue to support the people of the Middle East as they rise up against their tyrants. They deserve their shot at freedom. They may not succeed and regimes may be replaced by worse, but the President cannot play God in this. It remains however an exceptionally difficult situation for Israel. While it may not be life or death for the world the way it was during the Cuban Missile Crisis it is for Israel which is why I hope that the US, Europe and all others who value international peace and security continue to Lobby the new Egyptian government to maintain its peace treaty with Israel and work hard to prevent similar incidents as yesterdays outrage in Eliat.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Was the bombing of civilian areas in Gaza, the killing of civilians (an almost weekly occurance at the hands of bloodthirsty Jews) and an illegal occupation equally disturbing to you Leddy? Or are the so-called chosen people allowed to act with impunity in your book? The killing of civilians by Palestinians or Jews has no justification whatsoever - do you agree?

Ted Leddy said...

Anonymous

I equate the deliberate killing of innocent Palestinians with that of Israelis.

Any further anti semetic comments and you will be barred permanently from participating in discussions on this blog.

Anonymous said...

Please point out where I have been antisemetic? Surely you don't equate truth and criticism with antisemitism, do you?

Ted Leddy said...

Anonymous

If you refer to the Jews as "bloodthirsty" (or any other derogatory term) or make additional bigoted/racist remarks it will be the end of our little discussions.

Paul said...

Ted, the guy (Egan) is a prick show him a size 10!

Anonymous said...

Would your restrictions also apply to Muslims Ted? Surely if it's wrong to use such terms to refer to Jews, it must be wrong to label Muslims thus? As such I presume you'll be cautioning the likes of Paul and Systemworks - as well as yourself?

Corner Guy said...

I do not agree with your views about US intervention in states facing anti-regime unrest. Anything and everything that is fundamentalist in nature and anti-western (or for that matter, opposed to public liberty in general ) should be suppressed. If the dictator is a tyrant. he should be brought down. If a moderate dictator's fall may pave way for a possibly radical albeit democratic form of governance, then this should be stopped too. Frankly speaking, doing this should not only be a part of American foreign policy but be a duty for every country who prides in its freedom and respects its very own liberties

Anonymous said...

And that's precisely why western democratic fundamentalism will be opposed and fought cornerguy. Remember, the same mores you espouse will be visited upon you. Already in Egypt there is a strong movement for Shariah, in Libya the 'rebels' all shout 'Allahu Akbar' and desire an Islamic state, in Syria it is the same. There is an awakening and it's not for democracy!

Corner Guy said...

@Anonymous: As far as my perspective of the world goes, I am quite sceptical about the credibility of Islamic states. Apart from Saudi Arabia ; no other Islamic state in the world which abides sternly by the moslem code of conduct has been able to guard its citizens. Look at Somalia, have a look at Afghanistan. Look at what Taliban did to the FATA province of Pakistan. Your thoughts have been muddled by a misinterpretation of a beautiful religion. When the world tried to intervene for your own good in Somalia and Afghanistan; you perceived it to be an aggression. Which in(Somalia) in the initial stage it was not. All I am trying to put across is regardless of the threat whether it be Islamist fundamentalism or communist regimes, public liberty should be protected at all costs.

builder man said...

Terrible as these events are, their progenity is in the imposition of aggressive Zionism on an unwilling population, dispossessed and subjugated, and will only be resolved when those crimes are acknowledged by Israel and a meaningful attempt by them for peace with some sort of justice for the Palestinians.

Rob Harris said...

@ Corner Guy, I have sympathy for your position but I feel the US can't be expected to be the world's policemen. They have in my view a legitimate right to stand up for their interests abroad so they should have stood up for Mubarak at least a bit before Obama condemned him just as Jimmy "the Dhimmi" Carter should have given support to the Shah but at the same time if the zeitgeist is for the Middle-East to slide into tyranical Islamicism them there is little anyone can do. My own view is that long term the Islamic world needs to go through this phase before (hopefully) turning more toward some sort of enlightenment akin to the European equivalent of the 18th Century.

builder man said...

What is astonishing is that any of the 'freedom loving' contributors to this blog defend Mubarak who ruled Egypt under Emergency Laws and was the antithesis of freedom including imprisonment without trial and torture. I suppose they mean that the
only freedom that matters is theirs and they don't care what else happens
in the world as long as that is preserved. Not only is that immoral but probably self-defeating.

Ted Leddy said...

Corner Guy

Thanks very much for your articulate contribution and welcome to Gubu World.

"If a moderate dictator's fall may pave way for a possibly radical albeit democratic form of governance, then this should be stopped too".

My problem with this if it becomes official policy to do so then you will find the US will inevitably end up intervening for the sake of relatively narrow and largely self serving interests. This can have unintended consequences which can be long lasting and very harmful. Besides, morally I don't think the US has the right to play God whenever and wherever there is instability.

Ted Leddy said...

Builder man

I understand your frustration. US and western foreign policy does seem very hypocrytical at times. I for one was hoping Mubarak would fall from the day the first stone was thrown. Perhaps the following distincion can be made. There are town types of dictators in the world. There are those who just wish to control their countires and have no further agenda outside their borders. The west tend not to oppose such regime unless, as in Tunisia, the people begin to rise up.

Then there are dictators who want to start wars or support terrorists. These types tend to fall out with London, Washington and Paris.

As regards your earlier point on "aggressive zionism", if you mean continued Jewish expansion in the West Bank then I agree it hasn't helped. Some Palestinian intransigence can be linked to Israeli actions. But other acts of terror, particularly deliberate masscares of civilians must be looked at in the context of primitve and a deep rooted Jew hatred that clearly exists in Arab Muslim culture. It is very difficult to expect the Jewish state (especially given recent Jewish history) to back down in front of an enemy that is so implacably oppsed to it.

Ted Leddy said...

Rob

Given the fact that President Bushs' Mid East foreign policy was centered around promoting democracy in the Arab world, it would appear pretty meaningless if the US then assisted a dictator in Egypt while the people rose up against him just to protect their own interests. That was cold war geopolitics. I would hope we have evolved somewhat in the 21st century.

Rob Harris said...

Ted, the stated policy of one administration often contradicts another. The thing is that the Islamic world is a sort of akin to a pre-Enlightenment West. Democracy in such instances often serves to reinforce the status quo rather than enhancing freedom by giving a voice to diverse quarters which is one of the key elements of Western democracy. You end up with what Plato saw as a tyranny of the many. Thus it seems both situations will cause some level of substantial oppression as we also have in supposedly more democratic states in the region. Therefore (for myself) the question isn’t so much about dictatorship vs. democracy as which condition in a given political scenario will cause less oppression and suffering. The options in Egypt where the Muslim Brotherhood are the biggest political opposition force were arguably even less unattractive than Mubarak. That’s why I don’t see his going as a victory.

builder man said...

The aggressive Zionism I refer to is their exploitation of the Balfour Declaration far beyond the remit of 'a homeland for the Jews.' A homeland
-not a State. This from a meeting of the British Cabinet on 5/12/1918
when they criticised the Zionists for
'demanding huge areas of Arab land
and even a Jewish State.' From Israeli Moshe Dayan (he of the famous eye patch!):'Why are we surprised at their hatred of us.
They are penned in their refugee camps (Gaza) watching us occupying
the lands they once farmed, and raised their families. There is not
a single Jewish village that was
not built in the place of an Arab village.'(Over 300 were destroyed
1947-49). For a horrific description of a later ethnic cleansing by the Israelis, google
'Imwas' and you can find the testimony of the IDF who witnessed the crime.In spite of all this the
average Palestinian does NOT hate
the Jews. I know many (Muslim and Christian). All they want is to keep their historic connection with their land and some level of
justice.