Headline on page one of Ha''aretz, "Mubarak: ''Obama does not understand Egyptian culture.''"Summary of today''s posting from Memri, a well informed intelligence source that translates material from Muslim media: "The Egyptian Foreign Ministry has rejected the U.S.''s stance on the protests in Egypt, telling it bluntly to mind its own business and refrain from interfering in Egypt''s affairs. Rage at the U.S. has also been voiced by writers in the Egyptian press, who said that U.S. President Barack Obama was not qualified to speak for the Egyptian people or to determine the country''s future.
Also critical of Obama''s policy were columnists in other Arab countries, who accused the U.S. of abandoning Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and of willingness to sell out its allies, including Israel, to further its own goals. They claimed that the U.S. encouraged the Arab oppositions not in order to promote human rights, as it claimed, but in order to realize a hidden agenda and preserve its influence over the Arab world in all circumstances."
Both Thomas Friedman and George Soros are putting Israel in the center of their analyses about Egypt, and accusing Netanyahu of self-destructing blindness if he does not go "the extra mile" to satisfy Palestinians or provide what it takes for the Americans to force a deal between Israel and Palestine.
News from the White House is that Americans are discussing with the Egyptians a plan for Mubarak to resign immediately and begin a process of forming a new government, then wide-ranging discussions among Egyptian groups, including the Islamists, leading up to an election.
Has the White House forgotten what the obsession of its predecessor with the formats of democracy produced in Gaza? Hamas won the election that Americans forced on unwilling Palestinians.
The liberation of Iraq, partly for the declared sake of democracy, has produced continued chaos and bloodshed, with a wilting fig leaf of occasional claims about success uttered by American officials.
Are the procedures of democracy more important than their results? What about the impact of culture on politics? Treating Egypt like Minneapolis is less likely to produce something like Minneapolis than chaos, another regime like Mubarak''s, or something like Iran.
Is it the intention of the White House to make itself look good to American Democrats and decent people in Western Europe, or really to influence things in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East?
Can American posturing spur Egyptian dissidents to greater action and the romance of a revolution that will produce who knows what? Or is it only American uttering for its own sake?
Have the action-loving reporters on CNN and the romantic, reform-hoping commentators who see democracy in the noise of Cairo not learned the Stages of Revolution? They vary from place to place, but initial victors generally do not survive. Democratic aspirants were also prominent in the early stages of the Russian and Iranian revolutions.
Do Americans really believe it when they say that the problem is not Islam, or is this just more of the same lip service to be on the side of the angels, with the laudable goal of avoiding the horrors of ethnic incitement?
In re Friedman and Soros, do they deny that Israel has already offered a generous mile to the Palestinians, and has received little indication that an extra mile will bring anything more than rejection because nothing is enough?
Do they have no respect for the vast middle of the Israeli political spectrum, better informed than the great majority of Americans about the Middle East? Polls continue to show that Israelis are willing to sacrifice for peace, but are generally distrustful of Arab intentions, reliability, and morality. Now Israelis are justifiably nervous about Egyptians and Americans. If things go wrong in the careful planning of the White House, the problem will not be across the sea but next door.
Are those statements about Israelis'' views dismissible because they appear to be racist and/or paranoid, or worthy of serious consideration?
So many questions. I know my answers, but as a true democrat in a culture as democratic as anything this side of Minneapolis, I welcome others.