Democracies Dancing with the Devil

February 9, 2011 10:49 am 4 comments

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Photo: World Economic Forum.

The continuing chaos that has drawn all eyes to Egypt, has led many to pontificate the flaws of democracy. More specifically called into question, is the universal value of a democratic system. Perhaps, the argument goes, not all are ready or capable of making their own decisions, after all, Hitler was democratically elected, as was Hamas in Gaza. And, the argument continues, that if Egyptians are left to their own devices, who is to predict the ‘devil we don’t know ‘ that will arise.

This ongoing debate is of great interest and relevance to leaders and heads of state. But what is perhaps of greater interest to political observers, is what the Egypt scenario has brought to light in terms of the dealings of democracies and free nations, with autocrats, theocrats and dictators around the world.

Of course the governments of any country are responsible for the overall safety and security of their citizens, and at times it appears that this may necessitate an occasional ‘dance with the devil.’ It is rare that even long established democratically elected governments make altruistic decisions, and as such, it comes as no surprise that President Mubarak of Egypt has been propped up by the West for over 30 years. Now that power is shifting, and Mubarak has less to offer, Western powers are looking elsewhere for a broker that will facilitate their needs.

In the world of realpolitik, it is unlikely that this scenario will change in the near future. However there are certain lessons that need to be garnered from the Egypt situation, that have extreme relevance to the way democratic governments interact with dubious regimes around the world. Although to some it may seem elementary, one lesson that has relevance to Israel more than any other country is that there is no such thing a permanent agreement with an undemocratic government.

One of the simple reasons that this is the case is that an agreement between the governments of two elected democracies is an agreement between two peoples. A treaty with a figurehead or dictator or unelected leader is dependent on the whim of that individual or the ruling elite and thus can never be guaranteed. Additionally as we are seeing in Egypt, the ruling elite themselves are bound to be overthrown at some point or other and it is highly unlikely that the new leadership that takes control will want to preserve any remnants of their predecessors’ legislation and dealings.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently announced that ‘he expects any new Egyptian government to keep the peace treaty with Israel.’ He ‘expects,’ and what if that expectation is not carried through? Did Israel really pawn the Sinai and forever jeopardize the safety of its citizens in return for an ‘expectation’?

What makes matters worse for Israel is that it is constantly under pressure to formulate agreements of various kinds with Syria, the Palestinian Arab Authority and other Arab dictatorships or theocracies. Thomas Friedman of the New York Times naively went so far as to suggest that now is the best time to engage in treaty signing. What drivel! Arab figureheads do not represent their people and can’t be taken seriously in any long term treaty.

Additionally, for years Arab leaders have misled Western governments, declaring one position when in their company and a drastically different one to their own people. The flip side benefit is that in the rare event that true open democracy takes hold in the Arab world, the will of the people will be more transparent and Western leaders will have a much better idea of exactly what and who they are dealing with, as is the case with Hamas in Gaza.

This clear lesson from Egypt is very straightforward. While backhanded handling with imposed leadership structures throughout the world may be a sad necessity for democracies; comprehensive agreements with concrete commitments including the ceding of land is downright irresponsibly dangerous.

The Author is the director of the Algemeiner Journal and the GJCF and can be e-mailed at defune@gjcf.com .

4 Comments

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Sports Israeli Soccer Team Faces Prospect of International Ban

    Israeli Soccer Team Faces Prospect of International Ban

    The Israel National soccer team could be facing a World Cup ban, and other soccer sanctions, unless it alleviates travel restrictions and increases field access for Palestinian players and coaches. The head of the Palestinian Football Association is pushing for international soccer’s governing body, the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA), to issue a ban on Israel competing internationally, claiming Israel’s restrictive travel for Palestinians is equivalent to a form of oppression. “It’s not only the athletes,” Jibril Rajoub explains. [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews Jewish Author of ‘Eat to Live’ Dishes on Health Care, Nutrition, Disease Prevention

    Jewish Author of ‘Eat to Live’ Dishes on Health Care, Nutrition, Disease Prevention

    JNS.org – While the national debate on “Obamacare” rages on past the recent March 31 sign-up deadline, bestselling Jewish author Dr. Joel Fuhrman says the “current disease care model of what we call ‘health care’ cannot possibly be sustained.” “There is simply not enough money available to support a system in which the lion’s share of expenditures is devoted to acute care, with virtually nothing being spent on preventive medicine, i.e. health care,” Fuhrman says in an interview. “To make [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    JNS.org – “This is how I want to be—without fear. Independent. I want to be like a bird. I want to spread my wings.” So reads part of the description beneath one of the 30 paintings on display until the end of May at the ZOA House in Tel Aviv. The collection represents the first-ever art exhibit of its kind: an exhibit created entirely by Israelis in treatment for eating disorders. Dubbed “Tears of Color,” based on one of the [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    JNS.org – Rachel Ament noticed that she and her friends often shared humorous anecdotes that were typically variations on a theme: overprotective, worrying Jewish moms who smothered them with love. That included Ament’s own mother. “My mom is probably every Jewish stereotype scrunched into one,” the Washington, DC, resident tells JNS.org. “At the root of all these stereotypical, worrying, overprotective moms, is love.” A social media writer for Capital One, as well as a freelance writer, Ament decided about three years [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary ‎Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer (REVIEW)

    ‎Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer (REVIEW)

    Kosher Lust, by Shmuley Boteach (Gefen Publishing House, 2014). You really do want to find something positive to say about Shmuley Boteach. He is a phenomenon; very bright, an articulate bundle of energy and self-promotion. Anyone who has the chutzpah to describe himself as “America’s Rabbi” deserves ten out of ten for effort. I believe that along with most Chabad alumni, official and unofficial, he does a lot of good and is a sort of national treasure. In this world [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Hollywood’s Revisiting of Passover’s Exodus Story a Part of Throwback ‘Year of the Bible’

    Hollywood’s Revisiting of Passover’s Exodus Story a Part of Throwback ‘Year of the Bible’

    JNS.org – In a throwback to the golden age of cinema, Hollywood has declared 2014 the “Year of the Bible.” From Ridley Scott’s Exodus starring Christian Bale as Moses, to Russell Crowe playing Noah, Hollywood is gambling on new innovations in technology and star power to revisit some of the most popular stories ever told. “It’s definitely a throwback to the 1950s and early ’60s,” Dr. Stephen J. Whitfield, an American Studies professor at Brandeis University, told JNS.org. Starting with The [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Jewish Giant’ Headlines New York Jewish Museum Exhibit

    ‘Jewish Giant’ Headlines New York Jewish Museum Exhibit

    Eddie Carmel, dubbed “The Jewish Giant” by American photographer Diane Arbus, is the centerpiece of a new exhibit opening April 11 at The Jewish Museum in New York. Arbus met Carmel, who was billed “The World’s Tallest Man,” at Hubert’s Dime Museum and Flea Circus in 1959 but waited until 1970 to photograph him at his parents’ home in the Bronx, according to the museum. The son of immigrants from Tel Aviv, Carmel posed for Arbus with his head bowed to [...]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Disney Hit ‘Frozen’ Gets Passover Themed Makeover With ‘Chozen’ (VIDEO)

    Disney Hit ‘Frozen’ Gets Passover Themed Makeover With ‘Chozen’ (VIDEO)

    A Passover themed cover of hit songs Let It Go and Do You Want to Build a Snowman? from Disney’s Frozen has attracted tons of media buzz and a cool 65,ooo views on YouTube within days of going online. The work of Jewish a capella group Six13, the track is aptly named Chozen. We are celebrating “our freedom, our favorite festival, our fabulous fans, and aspiring Disney princesses everywhere” the group said. The Chozen music video tells the story of [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.