For nearly a generation, successive US administrations have based their Middle East policies on the collective wisdom of the likes of Ross, Hadley, Berger, Indyk, George Mitchell, Dan Kurtzer, and Tony Blair. And for nearly a generation, these wise men have argued that Arab reform, democracy, human rights, women's rights, minority rights, religious freedom, economic development and the rule of law can only be addressed after a peace treaty is signed between Israel and the Palestinians. In their "expert" view, Arab autocrats and their repressed subjects alike are so upset by the plight of the Palestinians that they can't be bothered with their own lives.Somehow, I don't think anything much will change in Western political discourse.
Tunisia's revolution exposes this "wisdom," as complete and utter piffle. Like people everywhere, what most interests Arabs is their own standard of living, their relative freedom or lack thereof, and their prospects for the future.
Mohammed Bouazizi, the 26-year-old Tunisian college graduate who set himself on fire last month after regime security forces destroyed his unlicensed produce cart did not act as he did because of Israel.
The Egyptian man who set himself on fire in Cairo on Monday outside the Egyptian parliament, and the Algerian man who set himself on fire in Tebessa on Sunday, did not choose to self-immolate in the public square because of their concern for the Palestinians. So too, the anti-regime demonstrators in Jordan are not demonstrating because there is no Palestinian state west of the Jordan River.
The Tunisian revolution demonstrates that "Arab unity" and commitment to "Palestinian rights," is little more than a sop for Western "experts."
The chief concern of Arab dictators is not Israel, but the prolongation of their grip on power. From their perspective, one of the keys to maintaining their iron grip on power is neutralizing US support for freedom.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
The experts were wrong
As were all politicians, most of the media and the entire contingent of the chattering classes with all their followers. As Caroline Glick points out, events in Tunisia prove that beyond any doubt.