One of the things I’ve noticed regarding the “news” coming out of Egypt is that it’s incoherent. Because the situation is so big and so fluid, and because the reporters streaming in are remarkably uninformed to begin with about the region, the news stories remind me strongly of the blind man and the elephant. If you’re not familiar with that tale, the following version is the delightful poem by John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887):
It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.
The First approach’d the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
“God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!”
The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, -“Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me ’tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!”
The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a snake!”
The Fourth reached out his eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
“What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain,” quoth he,
“‘Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!”
The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: “E’en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!”
The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Then, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a rope!”
And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!
So oft in theologic wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!
This reporter speaks to a crowd the loathes America; that reporter speaks to a crowd that seeks democracy; this reporter gets trapped in the middle of a riot; that reporter sees peaceful protests; and so on, ad nauseaum. There is no coherent narrative emerging.
I have come to one conclusion in my own mind, though, for better or worse. There is a substantial likelihood that any outcome will not be friendly to Israel. If that’s the case, there’s a likelihood that a new government will abrogate the Camp David treaty, and declare war against Israel. That’s a bad thing . . . except . . . except:
For the first time in a long time, there will be clarity. Israel will face a nation, not a terrorist group interspersed amongst a complicit, but picturesquely pathetic citizenry; Israel will be the declaree, not the declarer, should there be war, which has a propaganda value that needs to be respected; and Israel has a better fighting force.
Past wars have shown that the Arabs and Muslims fight with ferocity and inhumanity when they think they’re winning, and run from the fight when they think they’re losing. History has also shown that, in open battle, the Arab/Muslim bite hasn’t yet lived up to its bark. And yes, I know that the Iraq/Iran war was an eight (?) year open sore, fought with unparalleled brutality and loss of life, but it’s worth remembering that it was fought by two similar militaries, in a conventional way. Israel (God willing) has learned its lessons, has planned (God forbid) for such a moment, and will avoid embroiling itself in the 21st Century equivalent of trench warfare.
I’m not saying there’ll be war. I’m saying (a) we have no real idea what’s going on and (b) outcomes in that region tend to disfavor Israel. If it comes to war, all is not lost and maybe there’s something to be gained.