Friday, February 4, 2011

The price of the new American virtue

JERUSALEM— From Thursday's Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Feb. 03, 2011 5:00AM EST
Last updated Thursday, Feb. 03, 2011 3:23PM EST

Barack Obama’s demand that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak accept an immediate transition of power has hardly calmed an anxious Israeli people watching the fall of its closest Arab ally. For Israelis, the American President doesn’t appear principled and resolute but untrustworthy and flailing.

By insisting that Mr. Mubarak immediately resign, Mr. Obama undermines the possibility of a peaceful transition that could empower democrats, rather than the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. Allowing Mr. Mubarak to remain in office until September, as he has offered, would allow the secular opposition to begin organizing for the election. So far, the only organized opposition is the Brotherhood.

Israelis fear that the haste with which the Obama administration turned its back on its own closest ally in the Arab world has signalled other pro-U.S. leaders in the region that Washington can’t be trusted. A cartoon in the newspaper Maariv showed Mr. Mubarak as an astronaut drifting in space. “Houston, I’ve got a problem,” he says. “Houston … Houston …” The fear here is that Israel could become that astronaut. Both left and right commentators are warning that, even as the region turns increasingly Islamist, the Jewish state can’t depend on Mr. Obama.  Read More