When is it too little and when is it too late?


Cairo protest - AP - Jan. 31, 2011

Mubarak Orders New VP to Open Dialogue with Egypt Opposition

All of us have probably had a time in a relationship when we were desperate to save it; desperate enough to consider options we had never considered.   In the multiple phases of the break-up of my marriage of 25 years, both my wife and I reached points – unfortunately not at the same time or even in the same year – when one of us really wanted to save our marriage and was willing to compromise.  In fact, at some point we each became desperate to save it and willing to consider options we had never considered.  So what happened, why weren’t we able to save our marriage instead of ending in divorce.  We had each waited too long before considering the compromises that proposed earlier in our marriage might have saved the marriage –  those points of desperation never coincided with the same period in the other one.  We simply waited too long to be willing, too long to hear the others problems and concerns too long before coming willing.   More skilled, or more commitment people, I am not sure which,  keep the dialogue open and ongoing all of the time, they deal with problems as they arise, they don’t wait until it is a crisis – or to use the current metaphor from Egypt the troops and the demonstrators are in the streets.  At that point one or both sides have passed the point of no return and lost the willingness to compromise.

By all accounts the Czar of Russia was a nice man, a family man and a loving man – his government was none of those things. Worse his country was mired in a war, his armies under-equipped and his citizens on the edge of starvation – it was not a good time for Russians.  When he could see no alternative the Czar decided compromise was in order, partly his advisers were to blame, they selfishly wanted to hold onto their own personal power.  Nicholas Romanov waited too long, just as my wife and I waited too long before being willing to make real compromises and behavioral changes.

Husni Mubarak has suddenly become willing to compromise, but he may just have waited a little too long – the genii seems to be out of the bag.  Maybe not, if his will is strong enough, he army willing enough and his allies loyal enough, he might survive – for a while.  Change is always difficult, and we all have a tendency to resist change and older people find change even more difficult.  I sympathize with Mubarak, I might have saved my marriage had I been willing soon enough to compromise, but I wasn’t.  I am sure, where he alive, that Nicholas, the last Czar of Russia, would sympathize with Mubarak too – but Nikie (that is what his wife called him) also waited too long – I think Husni too has waited too long and is doing too little. Timing in life is everything, in politics, business and personal relationships; survival is dependent on our ability to adapt, change and compromise.  However, more than one group is waiting to see if the Mubarak government has passed the point of recovery – the American government and the Muslim Brotherhood have upped their rhetorical, but are still leaving room to make-up if Mubarak manages to hold on to power.

And now in case you are wondering, the latest act in the Stanley Ho drama – his lawyers released tapes on which Ho says – in response to questions from his lawyers – that he was duped into stopping his first plan to sue his greedy children and they are again disowned.  Of course, it is the lawyers who released the three-day old tapes, Ho was back in the hospital after at least two more changes in direction – “your are disowned and get nothing!  No, I did not mean that, you get everything and I am stepping aside.”  Poor old Stanley doesn’t seem to know from day to day what he wants, but there is always someone willing to help him know, as long as they get a cut.  I suspect there a few old-liners, entrenched insiders with a vested interest in Mubarak continuing in office that are confusing the issue for Mubarak as well.  It is not clear who will get the baton in Cairo or in Macau, but it is getting clearer and clearer that the old guys have to let it go.

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