Winners and Losers From a Pharaoh’s Fall
by Patrick J. Buchanan
Among the biggest losers of the Egyptian uprising are, first, the Mubaraks, who are finished, and, next, the United States and Israel.
Hosni Mubarak will be out by year’s end, if not the end of this month, or week. He will not run again and will not be succeeded by son Gamal, whom he had groomed and who has fled to London.
Today, the lead party in determining Egypt’s future is the army. Cheered in the streets of Cairo, respected by the people, that army is not going to fire on peaceful demonstrators to keep in power a regime with one foot already in the grave.
Only if fired on by provocateurs is the army likely to clear Tahrir Square the way the Chinese army cleared Tiananmen Square.
But the army does have an immense stake in who rules, and that stake would not be well served by one-man, one-vote democracy.
Like the Turkish army, the Egyptian army sees itself as guardian of the nation. From the Egyptian military have come all four of the leaders who have ruled since the 1952 colonel’s revolt that ousted King Farouk: Gens. Naguib, Sadat and Mubarak, and Col. Nasser.
The military has also been for 30 years the recipient of $1.2 billion dollars a year from the United States. Its weapons come from America. Moreover, the army has a vital interest in the “cold peace” with Israel that has kept it out of war since 1973, produced the return of Sinai, and maintained Egypt’s role as the leader of the moderate Arabs and major ally of the United States.
The Egyptian army is also aware of what happened to the Iranian generals when the Shah fell, and what is happening to the Turkish army as the Islamicizing regime of Prime Minister Erdogan strips that army of its role as arbiter of whether a Turkish regime stays or goes.
The Egyptian army will not yield its position readily, which is why it may tilt to the ex-generals Mubarak named Friday as vice president and prime minister.
The army’s rival is the Muslim Brotherhood. The oldest Islamic movement in the Middle East, the most unified opponent of the regime, its future in a democratic Egypt, as part of a ruling coalition or major opposition party, seems assured.
And while the crowds in Cairo and Alexandria are united in what they wish to be rid of, the Muslim Brotherhood is united in knowing the kind of state and nation it wishes to establish.
Why are the United States and Israel seemingly certain losers from the fall of Mubarak? Because in any free and fair election in the Middle East, a majority will vote for rulers who will distance the country from America and sever ties to Israel.
When it comes to America and Israel, there is little doubt where the “Arab street” stands. And the freer the elections, the more the views of the Arab street will be reflected in the new Arab regime.
But why do they hate us? Is it because of who we are?
Surely, it is not our freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly or free elections for which we are hated. For this is what the demonstrators are clamoring for. Indeed, it is in the name of these freedoms that the Egyptian people are demanding that we cease standing behind Mubarak and stand with them.
No, the United States is not hated across the region because of the freedoms we enjoy or even because of the lectures on democracy we do not cease to deliver. We are hated because we are perceived as hypocrites who say one thing and do another.
The Arabs say we support despots who deny them the rights we cherish. They say we preach endlessly of human rights but imposed savage sanctions on Iraq for a dozen years before 2003 that brought premature death to half a million children. They say we use our power to invade countries that never attacked us.
They say we have provided Israel with the weapons to crush the Palestinians and steal their land, and that we practice a moral double standard. We condemn attacks on Israelis, but sit silent as Israel bombs Lebanon for five weeks and conducts a war on Gaza, killing 1,400 and wounding thousands, most of them civilians.
Any truth to all this? Or is this just Arab propaganda?
After losing Turkey as an ally, Israel has just seen Hezbollah come to power in Beirut and the Palestinian Authority stripped of its credibility by the Wikileaks exposure of its groveling to America and Israel. Now Israel faces the near certainty of a more hostile Egypt.
As for America, if we are about to be thrown out of the Middle East, it would be neither undeserved nor an unmitigated disaster.
After all, it’s their world, not ours.
February 1, 2011