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Whistling past the graveyard

By Michael J. Smith on Thursday February 3, 2011 09:14 PM

Some fascinating developments here in the land of the free, etc., consequent upon the developments in Egypt:

Mubarak splits Israel from neocons

As Israeli leaders worriedly eye the protests and street battles in neighboring Egypt, they’ve been dismayed to find that the neoconservatives and hawkish Democrats who are usually their most reliable American advocates are cheering for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s fall.

As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made clear in a cautious speech to the Knesset Wednesday, Israel is deeply worried what will happen to that relationship when Mubarak departs....

“You should have also thought about Israel before hurrying to call upon Mubarak to go,” Dov Weissglass, a former advisor to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, wrote, addressing the Obama administration. “It is difficult to think of more serious harm to Israel’s security than the collapse of the peace accord with Egypt.”

But while a few American conservatives like former U.N Ambassador John Bolton share the same qualms as Weissglass, many of Israel’s most prominent supporters - some of whom are regularly accused of putting Israel’s interests before those of the U.S. - dismiss those worries.

In particular, neoconservatives such as Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol, Bush National Security Council official Elliott Abrams, and scholar Robert Kagan are essentially saying good riddance to Mubarak and chiding Obama mainly for not making the same sporadic push for democracy as President George W. Bush.

(I snipped the bit where Politico refers to Mubarak as an "autocrat." What on earth do they think that word means? Was Ferdinand Marcos an "autocrat"? Fulgencio Batista? Anastasio Somaza? Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi? Catherine the Great was an autocrat. But all these other murderous clowns -- were they not in fact just... stooges?)

But I digress.

Sharing the "qualms" of a Weissglass is an unenviable job, and almost makes me feel sorry for Bolton. A dose of salts couldn't hurt. But beyond all the rich personal humor of the thing: What's going on here? Splits Israel from neocons? What does that even mean? Splits lizards from reptiles?

Have the cisatlantic neocons been smoking their own propaganda dope? Do they really think that a more "democratic" Egypt -- whatever that means -- would be better for their project? Oh, I know, they've been saying that kind of thing for years. But do they really believe it? Surely not. These people went to good schools, right?

Perhaps there is a kind of sense to made of all this, though. The appropriate model for practical, facts-on-the-ground Zionism is, of course, the Mafia. In that kind of world, personal loyalty to a fellow-gangster matters. Mubarak has been a good soldier for Israel lo, these thirty years, and so the Israelis feel obliged to pay lip service -- if nothing more -- to him.

But the Abramses and Kaganses are, after all, Americans, in the last analysis -- which is to say, they take a de-haut-en-bas imperial view of stooges like Mubarak, and are quite willing to replace an embarrassing stooge with a new one, not yet so badly compromised, whenever needed.

The Kaganses' and Abramses' complacency indicates their read of the likely outcome in Egypt, once Mubarak gets on that airplane -- namely, status quo with a fresh-faced management team.

They could be right. It could work out that way. More likely than not, perhaps.

Still, though, the corridors of power they tread are located in the malarial, mephitic town of Washington. No matter what happens in Egypt, Washington will still be Washington, for the foreseeable future.

Netanyahu & Co., however, bestride a small, precarious and improbable settler colony, surrounded by countries where the ordinary citizenry hate the settlers' guts. Things could go badly wrong for Israel in ictu oculi; and if they did, Netanyahu & Co. could end up like Mubarak.

Keep the Learjet warmed up on the tarmac, there.

Comments (16)


Well, they were referring to a what they call "moderate and centrist" democracy, i.e. one that still bans the Muslim Bros.

The neocons wanted Mubarak to retire, so a sham democracy, excluding the country's likely most popular political party, could take his place, something a bit like what they got right now in Algeria, which has a "democracy" while banning the FIS.

Signs show Obama and H. Clinton are pursuing that very policy right now. But of course neocons will whinge the whole time--US politics is all about backseat drivers.


Question: Why do they assume that the next Egyptian president, tutored by the US, will de-ratify the Peace Agreement? Answer: Because it's a tautology.

Peter Ward:

It seems apparent--so obvious it's probably silly to mention--Israel is hurdling off on a suicide course, passing the point of no return when it invaded Egypt all those years ago.

Tragically, Israel is taking a lot of the region with.

Peter, perhaps the Israelis are counting on Obama and whomever replaces him to intervene before they complete the final act of the their suicide-by-cop?

As a trivial aside, I also wonder how many of the Likudik friendly Republican contenders for the job will commence with their campaign attacks on Obama with some variant of "He Lost Egypt"? It will be fascinating to watch them doublespeak "democracy" and their version of coordinated Israeli propaganda.

Also - is Al okay? Haven't heard from him lately.


Al is working for the tea party in Albany ny


Israel is a caboose now

Last decade client regimes of uncle fell in Latin America
Maybe this decade in even more abrupt and "revolutionary " fashion
the same calibre of regimes will fall in the Arab world

The pitiful giant act btw isn't all that bad a mask at this point

To compare this to say the fall of russia's east Europe sphere
In 1989
Would be folly

On the other hand thinking uncle is ten feet tall and playing the cynical know it all is equally foolish

The Arab world is standing up


"in ictu oculi"

to impress
i'd try klingon... with your readership


I like to think that the verbiage from Kristol et al is just a sign of the fact that they've painted themselves into that particular corner. It's hard to imagine them genuinely thinking this is going to wind up being good for their cause. JC is probably right, too: It's probably just a prequel to set up the "he lost Egypt" trope for 2012.


For imperial powers, 'settlers are generally the most problematic of colonists'. They were the most nettlesome for Britain they were as for France (almost the entire edifice of the current French republic comes out of that unpleasant business with Algeria). Over time, settler-colonials also tend to get 'strangely out of step with everywhere else', with the exception perhaps of explicitly supremacist societies such as those of Rhodesia and Apartheid South Africa. Even those who once showered the settlers with praise can become embarrassed by their 'arrogance and brutality'. Israel under Netanyahu is going through its account of good will in the West at a fair clip.

Neocons might project the appearance of having the solidity of a Stalinist bloc clapping in unison, but there are factions among them. One of these has been selling the promotion of Democracy (Polyarchy) as a more efficient means of ensuring control since the late-70s and isn't at all averse to cutting losses when the strongman starts to totter.

For imperial powers, 'settlers are generally the most problematic of colonists'.
We might even cite Northern Ireland.

Who are the non-settler colonists?


Yes, the analogy is not lost on anyone in Ireland.

Heh. "Likudik" was a typo. But, it works.


It appears that comments are blocked at the moment on the Iranian haircut post just north of this post.


Yikes. Dunno how that happened. I think it's fixed now.


The Ludic Likudik: A Journal Of Ironic Zionism. Published by the Hadassah University Department of Hipster Studies.

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