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...

  • Arts and Culture Blogs 10 New Hollywood Movies That Aim to Show Support for Israel (SATIRE)

    10 New Hollywood Movies That Aim to Show Support for Israel (SATIRE)

    Ten major film studios are currently in production on projects that promote a decidedly pro-Israeli narrative. In famously liberal Hollywood, such a development has left mouths agape and set tongues a wagging. Since the Jewish State began defending itself from the thousands of rockets that Hamas has hurled at it – as well as ongoing terror attacks and murders, the overwhelming number of Tinseltown’s producers, directors, actors, and studio moguls have remained indifferent to the plight of millions of Israeli [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Israel Sports So Close: Israeli Judoka Loses Crown in World Cup Final, Finishes With Silver (VIDEO)

    So Close: Israeli Judoka Loses Crown in World Cup Final, Finishes With Silver (VIDEO)

    Israeli Judoka Yarden Gerbi (63kg), 25, of Netanya, on Thursday lost the final round at the Judo World Cup, and her world title to Clarisse Agbegnenou of France, at a match held in Russia. “I have mixed feelings,” Gerbi told Israeli Army radio. But, “I shouldn’t assume that I’d win the world Judo championship twice in a row,” she admitted. Gerbi won gold in Rio De Janeiro last year. “When I made my decision, I knew it was going to [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity Surviving the Holocaust by Hiding Their Faith (REVIEW)

    Surviving the Holocaust by Hiding Their Faith (REVIEW)

    “Jews Out!” was just the name of a child’s game that three little girls played in World War II Europe. But all is not as it seems because the three girls were Jewish, but hiding their true identities. In award-winning author R. D. Rosen’s riveting non-fiction work, Such Good Girls, “Jews Out!” wasn’t a game; it was a struggle for survival. The girls, Sophie, Flora, and Carla, grew up at a time and a place that did not allow them [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Personalities Twenty Years On, the Real and Radical Legacy of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach

    Twenty Years On, the Real and Radical Legacy of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach

    JNS.org – “He was part hippie, part yippie, part beatnik, and part New Age,” wrote Elli Wohlgelernter in a Jerusalem Post eulogy in 1994, following the Oct. 20 passing of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. Twenty years later, more robust accounts of Carlebach’s life have come to the surface. Earlier this year, Natan Ophir published the book Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach: Life, Mission & Legacy. This past summer, Rabbi Shlomo Katz’s The Soul of Jerusalem hit the shelves. But even the authors will admit [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Music Beatlemania Invades the Gaza Strip (SATIRE)

    Beatlemania Invades the Gaza Strip (SATIRE)

    As Hamas loses its grip on power in the Gaza Strip as a result of war, poverty and disillusionment, the Islamist terrorist group has developed an ingenious way to raise the moral of the 1.7 million Palestinian Arabs it was elected to serve. While currently focused on delivering a rocket into every Israeli home, Hamas has not left its own people behind. To gently wipe away the tears of children strategically placed inside kindergartens as human shields, the Hamas Interior Ministry has [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Spirituality/Tradition Removing Jesus’ Jewish Identity From Artwork

    Removing Jesus’ Jewish Identity From Artwork

    In a strong statement that challenges the historic divide between Christianity and Judaism, Pope Francis recently proclaimed, “Inside every Christian is a Jew.” But if you look at Renaissance artworks that depict Jesus, you will not find any evidence of a Jew inside the Christianized Jesus — even though the Gospels in the New Testament tell us that Jesus was Jewish to the core. Getting that point across to the public is a daunting task, as I learned in interviews I [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Personalities Recycling His Roots

    Recycling His Roots

    JNS.org – Having started his career playing on his family’s pots and pans, Jewish musician Billy Jonas has maintained this homemade performance ethic while spreading his messages of simple living and environmentalism to a shared home throughout the world. After beginning in the kitchen, Jonas soon moved to the music room, where he picked up the piano, guitar, and trombone. These days, the multi-talented multi-instrumentalist plays on with pretty much anything he can find, including cans, bottles buckets, and other recycled-object [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities Jewish Renewal Movement Founder’s Insights Form a New Guide for Senior Living

    Jewish Renewal Movement Founder’s Insights Form a New Guide for Senior Living

    JNS.org – Sara Davidson’s The December Project is a new book that should be read by all senior citizens, and by those who hope to live a long life, for it raises a question that most of us have not been taught how to answer: What should we do in that final stage of our lives? Many of us continue working past the traditional retirement age of 65, not because we need the money and not because we find the [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.