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Wednesday, February 09, 2011

So far so 'good'

Well, pretty much everything I said would happen in Egypt has come to pass:

Check 'Student' uprising looses focus (if it ever had any) and is completely co-opted and infiltrated by more powerful interested parties.

Check Opposition 'leader' Mohamed ElBaradei (A.K.A. Iran's stooge at the IAEA) allows Muslim Brotherhood a seat at the table.  That's the proverbial camel's nose poking in under the tent.

Check Newly minted 'Vice President' Omar Suleiman wasted no time in meeting with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood in a clear sign that no matter who wins the struggle for Egypt... the hard core Islamists will be involved.

Check The only thing that everyone in Egypt seems to agree on is that, when the dust settles, the Israel/Egypt peace agreement will have to be reexamined.

What I didn't see coming was Israel's opposition leader - Tzipi Livni - looking around at all the instability holding sway around us, and decide that this would be the correct moment to mount an organized effort to destabilize the current Israeli coalition government.

I have no words!  This is the most blatant, shameless, un-patriotic, opportunistic, treasonous behavior imaginable under the circumstances, given the overiding need for at least one country in the region to have a modicum of stability right now!

In case you need a little context... when Livni and Olmert's coalition was in power and stability was required, Netenyahu absolutely and unquestioningly silenced the opposition, and allowed himself to be drafted as a de facto Foreign Spokesman for a government of which he wasn't even a member! 

That's what statesmen do.  What Livni is doing is not worthy of a high school popularity contest.

Posted by David Bogner on February 9, 2011 | Permalink

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I was actually waiting for a new intifada or an uprising of African aliens in Tel-Aviv. But looks like today external parties don't need that because the opposition does a better service.

Posted by: Rodion | Feb 9, 2011 1:22:10 PM

I'm not in a position to argue on internal Israeli politics, but I don't see Livni's actions as being in any way "traitorous." Israel has a stable, democratic government that operates by established rules. If Livni's challenge is within the rules, then she might be "opportunistic" but she is not being "traitorous" or even "un-patriotic."

"Silencing opposition" is not "what statesmen do," it is what despots do.

I believe that Israel's government can handle a change of power even in critical times. Livni's opponents are free to paint her actions as having negative repercussions, but there's a tremendous difference between that and treason.

Posted by: efrex | Feb 9, 2011 5:27:56 PM

If I knew how to search your site, I would have pulled up your old post that explains the reasons behind this situation. It's all part of Tzipi's "condition." Does the word "cockroach" ring any bells? (And no, dear readers, if you haven't had the opportunity to read the vintage Trep piece I am referencing, I am not calling Ms. Livni an insect.)

Posted by: rutimizrachi | Feb 9, 2011 5:29:58 PM

Rodion... We're our own worst enemy.

efrex ... Boy when you're wrong, you go all out. I have no porblem with a spirited opposition, and all's fair in love and politics. EXCEPT when national security is on the line. Then everyone sits down, shuts up and lets the government in charge manage things. That's what Bibi did as head of the opposition during the disastrous Lebanon war, and again during Cast Lead. And now that the middle east is suddenly in turmoil around us, this is not the time for a civics lesson on how a strong opposition is good for a democracy. Kadima should sit down, shut up and try to think of the country for a change. Once Lebanon's Government is formed... Once the smoke clears in Egypt... Once the impact of Pali-Leaks on Abbas' PA becomes clear... THEN let Livni do and say what she wants. But until then she should sit down and stop rocking the boat in stormy seas.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 9, 2011 5:38:12 PM

It would be one thing if Livni and Co would have something constructive to add once in a while, but it seems all she can do is take whatever Bibi says and take the extreme opposite position. At least Meretz has it's principles, even if I hate them, she and the rest of Kadima are nothing more than a bunch of me-first davkaniks.

Posted by: Max Power | Feb 9, 2011 8:17:28 PM

Has there been a moment, really, since 1948 when one could not make the case that "National Security" is on the line?

Fortunately, Israel has a process for determining its governance that does not entail the masses taking to the streets. If Livni believes that that process will give her PM'ship, part of that process is she gets to try.

And if people feel that Bibi is a steadier hand in these troubled times, the process' outcome will show that.

You are, in essence, saying that you don't trust the process. That's a little scary.

Posted by: Rich | Feb 9, 2011 8:33:33 PM

Rutimizrahi... Ah you mean the chiropractic post. :-)

Max Power... That's about right

Rich... No, what I'm saying is that in times of real crisis, partisan politics help the enemies of the state. Bibi respected that rule when he was opposition leader. Livni probably thinks he was a sucker for doing so. That's the difference between a statesman and an opportunist.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 9, 2011 8:53:35 PM

"Has there been a moment, really, since 1948 when one could not make the case that "National Security" is on the line?"

My thoughts exactly.

Posted by: Tzipporah | Feb 9, 2011 10:39:14 PM

Tzipporah... There is a difference between the usual threat level... And the kind of regional upheaval we're seeing now. Can't say it any better than that.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 9, 2011 10:48:48 PM

I would have been surprised if she didn`t act to take advavantage of the situation,given her prior history.These are difficult times,national interest should come before personal, or political considerations.Can`t help thinking the U.S. is involved in this.

Posted by: ED | Feb 9, 2011 11:22:28 PM

When Bibi silenced the opposition, he was quieting down his own side, not suppressing his enemies.

Sometimes there is more-than-average turmoil, sometimes less. Now there is more. It would behoove Livni to refrain from rocking the boat until a few of the waves die down. Nobody is trying to put her in jail for this.

Posted by: Freddy | Feb 10, 2011 1:10:47 AM

It's a complicared situation, and not easy to understand despite your boiling it down to a few debatable points. El Baradei is no future Egyptian PM, at least yet. One of the reasons he is so involved is because there are a number of factions involved in the protests, and as someone considered irrelevant in Egyptian politics, he threatens no one, so they all agreed he could be a kind of spokesman. Whether he sold out the world over Iran is not clear, although I tend to agree that at the least he was not that good at his job. The Muslim Brotherhood was not "allowed" a seat at the table, they are entitled to one as a function of their standing in Egyptian politics as the closest thing to an opposition party. They are officially banned, but have had a number of their representatives in parliament for years. It's important to note that there is a generational split in MB, with the older, more revolutionary faction holding the more anti Israel stance, and the younger, more technocratic faction less focussed on changing the status quo. We do not know who will come out ahead, but like it or not, they are a real factor in the political life of Egypt, and unlike their offshoots, have not been a terrorist organization in at least thirty years. What is interesting to me is that you paint a convincing sounding worst case scenario, but so far, compared too other times in history, there is no imminent threat to Israel. Neither you nor I expect things to remain quiet, but I am not sure I would call the current situation an emergency. Certainly, a change in the head of government in Israel is not going to destabilize the country. Now, whether Livni is right for doing this is a matter of perspective. If you believe that the current situation calls for a change in leadership to ensure that Israel has the very best people steering it through a crisis, than Livni is heroically offering herself.
If you believe that the current leadership is the best Israel can do, and thus replacing them endangers Israel, then Livni is at best opportunistic.
I think neither is true. Netanyahu has an almost Nixonian mix of visionary statesmanship and grubby politics, and it's a coin toss whch one you'll get on a given day. Livni has never proven herself to be better than a second tier party functionary and somewhat competent defense/diplomacy bureaucrat. Perhaps she will grow into something more, perhaps not. Treason? I think you overstate the case. You are better off calling her a jerk, which I think might be accurate.

Posted by: Jordan Hirsch | Feb 10, 2011 4:09:17 AM

ED... She has deluded herself into believing that national interests and her insterests are always one in the same.

Freddy... Good point.

Jordan Hirsch... saying that someone is a transition leader in a country with no mechanism for transition is a little naive. Once someone is installed in Egypt, you better get used to the look of him, because he isn't going anywhere. The Muslim Brotherhood is not entitled to anything. According to Egyptian Law they are still outlawed. And I don't care if some of the Brotherhood is younger and more techno (whatever that means). It is an old middle east trick to have a terror organization with both a military and political wing... so that so-called moderates can wear nice suits and take part in a charade of government, while making excuse for their military wing who continue to carry out the 'struggle'. You of all people should know that what Livni is doing is unconscionable. You are a student of history. Do you remember Senator Arthur Vandenberg? He coined the phrase "Politics stops at the water's edge" AFTER WWII was already over. He recognized that even though there was no more imminent threat to the US, that if partisan politics was not set aside, there would be no way of forming a cohesive foreign policy. As a result of this mindset, the Marshall Plan was implemented and the groundwork for NATO was laid. If business as usual was allowed to continue in the US government, Europe would not have been rebuilt and the seeds of WWIII would have been planted in exactly the way the seeds of WWII were planted at the end of WWI. No matter what you think of Bibi, this crisis has developed on his watch, and it is essential that his government be allowed to maintain a stable leadership and steady foreign policy while all the governments around us are in a state of flux. This is not the time for new elections and you know it.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 10, 2011 10:07:33 AM

Actually, it was the IRA that figured that "old middle east trick" out a long time ago. I think you need to read my post a little less hastily. I do not approve of Livni's grandstanding. But I do see a rationale, and, like it or not, in a democracy someone will always think they have a better idea and are entitled to a shot. Technocrats are more interested in the running of things like governments than in any particular ideology, and are often focussed on issues like corruption and management. That you airily dismiss my distinction in the makeup of the MB is understandable, as the consequences for disaster will be met immediately by you and your neighbors. But that doesn't mean that your analysis of them is correct. The Muslim Brotherhood is not a terrorist organization. That does not mean they are nice guys. My point about MB was that usually, it is the younger generation that is more hotheaded, but in this case, it is actually the remnant of the MB from when it was still a revolutionary organization that was more intractably committed to an aggressive anti Israel posture, and the younger generation is less focussed on Israel as a primary issue. In any event, El Baradei is not a leader of the revolt, merely a spokesman, and the MB, while a beneficiary of any regime change in Egypt, is not the leader either. The revolt is composed of many factions, and it is too early to say what the outcome will mean for Israel.
I know Arthur Vandenberg's quote very well. The foreign policy consensus of which he spoke gave us Vietnam, Dominican Republic, Korea, Quemoy and Matsu, Grenada, Bay of Pigs, Pinochet, etc. His principle isn't wrong, but meaningless if misapplied.

Posted by: Jordan Hirsch | Feb 10, 2011 5:26:43 PM

Jordan Hirsch... "I know Arthur Vandenberg's quote very well. The foreign policy consensus of which he spoke gave us Vietnam, Dominican Republic, Korea, Quemoy and Matsu, Grenada, Bay of Pigs, Pinochet, etc."

Wow, trying for some kind of record in wrong-headedness? Vandenberg's legacy is one of bipartisan cooperation. Without his wisdom, America would have let Europe remain a ruin. If you really want to parse each one of those conflicts you listed and see who/what got us into them... well, I don't think you will like the look or smell of most of the answers.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 10, 2011 5:39:47 PM

No David, you have it wrong. The idea of laying blame is not what I am looking for. Bipartisan cooperation yielded a consensus of containment, which, in fact, as you noted, led to the reconstruction of Europe. The Marshall plan, which probably could just as easily be called the Kennan plan, was a cornerstone of anti communism in Europe, and ultimately, showed the right way to resist totalitarian encroachment. The cases I cited were where the Bipartisian consensus led to lesser results, because both Democrats and Republicans at various times felt it was more important to support the foreign policy of the President than look critically at what he was proposing. It does not mean the idea is wrong. It just means that there are times where it is applied well, and times where it is applied too blindly.
Other examples of Foreign policy successes supported by wide Bipartisian majorities in the US Congress include holding off the Russians against Israel in 1967, and again in 1973, when Nixon, with the strong support of Congress resupplied Israel in her darkest hour. Nixon's Detente policies with both Russia and China also enjoyed strong support on both sides of the aisle.
My point remains correct. In a democracy, if someone thinks they have a better idea, they are entitled to try it. It is up to the voters to determine if the time is right. You look for Bogeymen in every argument so you can turn geopolitical behavior into morality plays.
But don't worry. Mubarak has just announced that he won't step down, so now we can find out how badly radicalized the populace will become before they finally do get rid of him. Hopefully the Egyptian Army will do the job before the MB signs up enough recruits to pass the 15% of the popular support they now enjoy.

Posted by: Jordan Hirsch | Feb 10, 2011 11:44:38 PM

I'm writing this on Feb. 11 - Mubarak is gone. Whether he was pushed out by his own military or Obama or a combination of the two is important but not exactly relevant right now. The important thing for Israel is - he's gone.

The military still rules Egypt, as far as I know. Beyond that, David, does anyone know anything???

God help us all if the Muslim Brotherhood gets its hands on the Suez Canal. I agree with you 100%, David. They are poison and cannot be allowed political power in Egypt.

But who will stop them?

Now what?

Posted by: jay | Feb 11, 2011 9:56:53 PM

Muslim Brotherhood may get as little as 15% in any Egyptian government. They are not the main concern in any event. The Egyptian Military is a strong entity in society, and they have made it clear they are not interested in re-igniting war with Israel. I think thhere are potential negative consequences vis-a-vis Gaza, I do not believe the situation will deteriorate there as badly as some fear, if for no other reason than the Army knows where it's bread is buttered.

Posted by: Jordan Hirsch | Feb 11, 2011 10:50:50 PM

Jordan,

Listening to you, I think of the foolish, naive, idealistic and gullible nitwit I used to be.

You have NO idea how many people would support the MB in a "free" Egypt.

You have NO idea what the MB would do if they control a coalition government.

You have NO idea about reality, so why should you know these things?

Those of us who have seen a few revolutions, and who have seen the idealistic youth who demonstrated for "freedom" hanging from lamp posts, know what's about to happen.

This is a complete disaster for the region. I have read that Iranian warships are already paying visits to Jeddah. Bearing messages of "peace and freedom," naturally.

Posted by: jay | Feb 12, 2011 2:00:12 AM

Well, gee, thanks for that thumbs up.

Posted by: Jordan Hirsch | Feb 13, 2011 2:34:13 AM

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