Uri Avnery: Tsunami in Egypt
Until the very last moment, the Israeli leadership tried to keep Hosni Mubarak in power.
It was hopeless. Even the mighty United States was impotent when faced with this tsunami of popular outrage.
In the end it settled for second best: a pro-Western military dictatorship. But will this really be the outcome?
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WHEN CONFRONTED with a new situation, Obama’s first response is generally admirable.
Then, it seems, second thoughts set in. And third. And fourth. The end result is a 180 degree turn.
When the masses started to gather in Tahrir Square, he reacted exactly like most decent people in the US and, indeed, throughout the world. There was unbounded admiration for those brave young men and women who faced the dreaded Mukhabarat secret police, demanding democracy and human rights.
How could one not admire them? They were non-violent, their demands were reasonable, their actions were spontaneous, they obviously expressed the feelings of the vast majority of the people. Without any organization to speak of, without leadership, they said and did all the right things.
Such a sight is rare in history. No sansculottes screaming for blood, no cold-minded Bolsheviks lurking in the shadows, no Ayatollahs dictating their actions in the name of God.
So Obama loved it. He did not hide his feelings. He practically called on the dictator to give up and go away.
If Obama had stayed this course, the result would have been historic. From being the most hated power in the Arab world, the US would have electrified the Arab masses, the Muslim region, indeed much of the Third World. It could have been the beginning of a completely new era.
I believe that Obama sensed this. His first instincts are usually right. In such a situation, a real leader – that rarest of all animals – stands out....