It’s been a while, but I have a moment and something on my mind. It’s long. Here we go!
I know a guy that lives in Cairo. He is a very devout Muslim and he cares deeply for all Muslims. He does not wish violence upon non-Muslims, but he has some big concerns that he gets excited about. He is not alone in this, so it is worth mentioning. Here they are:
- Israel and its treatment of Palestinians and Lebonese.
- US involvement in how Middle East countries run themselves.
- Why does the US support Israel.
The big one of those is #1, and I’ll address that last. Let’s knock out the easy ones first:
#2: I agree that the US should not be doing this. This forces the US to take sides in something it does not understand and the simple involvement of the US in deciding a regime/victor/social norm means that whatever gets put into action is not viewed as a Muslim choice. This means the Muslim country doesn’t get to be autonomous. They resent this, and rightfully so.
#3: There are two reasons for this. The first is that the US made Israel and so we have an interest in keeping it going. The second is that Israel is a stable and reasonable power center in the region and so they are very attractive to work with. They do a hell of a better job of maintaining a peaceful country than any other power in the region. That’s just how it is.
Now for the biggie: #1
This comes down to the childish “He started it” justification. The Palestinians and Lebonese attack Israel, murder civilians and children and then cry bloody murder when the Israelis do it back to them. Should the Muslims just accept Israeli rule? Should the Israelis give up and disperse? Sadly, these easy answers are flat-out impossible for a host of reasons. So what can Egypt do? They want to help the Palestinians and Lebonese and they don’t want to see Muslims get killed, so what should they do?
Well here’s what doesn’t work, and subsequently, what they CAN’T do, no matter how much they want to:
- Violence. Either war or terror attacks – neither change anything for the better, they just make things worse. But that’s not all – doing this would also weaken Egypt because tanks, planes, explosives and personnel are not free and resulting reprisals (both military and economic sanctions) are costly.
- Give Israel a stern talking to. Israel doesn’t care what Egypt thinks and talking tough isn’t going to make them start caring. What it will do is make them consider Egypt hostile and that isn’t good for Egypt because it makes the previous bullet point more likely.
Alright, so if they can’t do either of those, what then CAN they do? First, let’s analyze the situation so that we understand what we’re talking about a bit more:
Palestine and Lebanon are run by bloodthirsty lunatics that only know war and terror, and that are bent on getting some sort of revenge against Israel. That is what got them into power. It is really hard to convince the rest of the world that these are reasonable people, and Egypt won’t be able to do it.
Let me use an analogy. Convincing Israel or any other non-Muslim country that the leaders of Palestine and Lebanon are the kind of people that are reasonable and that can be trusted is like trying to convince an Amish book store that they should hire this guy to go out and speak with clients:
It just isn’t going to happen with things the way they are now. So, now that the situation is explained a bit more clearly, here’s what Egypt must do:
1) Gain bargaining power.
They can only do this by becoming respectable in the view of the world. Notice I said “respectable” – not “liked”. As an example, China is respected, but not really liked because they murder their own people by the thousands every year (maybe millions). They are needed because they don’t break contracts and they offer services the rest of the world needs – this means they command respect, and with it, bargaining power. As an example I present the fact that the Kyoto Protocol has not been re-upped. The only reason for this is because China said “No, we’re not doing that and we dare you to not do business with us.” It is possible for Egypt to gain this power too.
2) Become a model of what the Muslim world should be.
To become a model, Egypt needs to do what has only ever worked in the Middle East – become a trading powerhouse. They need to have little or no regulation on trade, strong property rights, and courts that move very fast (less than week from a filing to hear and rule on a case). The type of law they want to use is not all that important to accomplish these goals. See video below for more on that.
3) Help Palestine and Lebanon gain their own bargaining power.
This can only be done if the first is achieved and the second exists. If these three things can be achieved, then Israel will come to the table and seriously work with these countries, because anything else would potentially damage Israel’s ability to function as an economy. For example: Why would an outside country bargain with Israel if Egypt and Lebanon offer the same products/services at a lower price? Egypt and Lebanon would be in a position to sanction Israel. If Israel wants the sanctions removed, then they would need to bargain, but the difference would be that they would be more comfortable bargaining with a prosperous, stable and respectable Egypt and Lebanon rather than the unknown that Egypt is now and the murderous headcase the Lebanon is now.
What about Palestine?
Well, Palestine is caught up in its own pride. They want all of what was once called Outremere and Israel wants all of Outremere. As it is now – Israel has won this fight and Palestine is being a sore loser by refusing to integrate. If they did peacefully integrate and become a province of Israel, they could then travel around and live wherever they want. They wouldn’t have all of what they want, but then neither would Israel. That’s what is called a compromise.
As it is now, Israel has absolutely no reason to think Palestine would peaceably integrate, and Palestine is perfectly fine with that. That’s why they keep firing rockets at Israel, murdering children and blowing themselves up in crowded areas. That’s also why Israel treats Palestine like a bunch of murderous children most of the time and as dangerous animals the rest of the time, with no reservations about torture or blowing up houses. Both sides need to stop it, but without something positive to look forward to, they will never stop.
Egypt could become that positive thing that both parties can look to. The Muslim world needs a role model right now.
Such a thing did exist at one time. Here’s a historian talking about it: