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American Dream Is Middle East Nightmare

Binyamin Rose

History is moving along swiftly and shifting tides are sweeping Middle Eastern strongmen out of office at the unprecedented rate of one a week for the past three weeks. Tunisia, Lebanon, and now Egypt are in the throes of regime change. Egypt’s new political axis may well tilt in favor of the radicals, posing new challenges for US and Israeli policy-makers and military men.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

There have always been two facets to the American dream.

One has centered on economic advancement, as canonized in Republican Herbert Hoover’s 1928 presidential campaign — “a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.”

The second facet has always been more of an appeal to the human spirit. America has envisioned as part of its destiny the promotion of a new world order, where people around the world have the same freedoms of expression, religion, and choice as they do in the United States. Former president George Bush, with moral support from Israel’s Natan Sharansky, made exporting American-style freedoms to the Middle East a priority in the first decade of this new century.

Alas, what works well in America gets corrupted quickly in the Middle East. The list is long and growing. Hamas has capitalized on free elections to take control of Gaza and hold the West Bank hostage. In 2005, the Western world kept its fingers crossed when the Lebanese people took to the streets after the assassination of Prime Minister Hariri to try to retake control from the Syrian-Iranian controlling axis. Six years later, the terrorist group Hizbullah has just succeeded in manipulating the Lebanese parliamentary system to take de-facto control of Israel’s northern neighbor.

It is worth keeping these recent memories alive before getting overly enthusiastic over the fresh uprisings that toppled Tunisia’s strongman, and which threaten at press time to do the same to Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, and spread further, to Jordan and Yemen.

“Events in Tunisia and Egypt have demonstrated, in a very vivid manner, what has been known all along,” says Yoram Ettinger, former Israeli ambassador to the United States. “No pro-Western regime in the Arab Middle East is a fixed reality. Until a few weeks ago, the US and Europe were referring to Mubarak as a ‘Rock of Gibraltar.’ What they didn’t understand was that the only question was when he was going to be toppled — and the same thing should be applied to the Hashemites in Jordan and the House of Saud in Saudi Arabia.”

At press time, days of violent street demonstrations in Egypt have forced President Hosni Mubarak to dismiss his ruling cabinet and speed the transition toward bringing an end to his thirty-year-old authoritarian regime, making way for a new form of government whose composition remains to be determined.

 

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