Isn’t stability all we want?


Gambling again. Israelis at Taba casino

Everyone has a different and personal way of viewing any event. The last six weeks in the Middle East has provided an opportunity for many people to weigh in with their personal perspective on the separate events.  Hilary Clinton, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Bill O-Reilly and thousands of others have their take and their preferred outcome.  One of the reasons that we have an opinion, is because in one way or another we are all affected.  Gas prices are shooting up where I live, they are nearly $3.50 a gallon today and have increased every week since the troubles started.  Libya is an important source of oil and both sides are threatening to use oil production as a tool in the battle – that makes lots of people nervous – oil prices are one of the base units that drive the cost of everything else in the economy; producing and transporting of every product depends on fossil fuels that for the most part are located under the sands in the Middle East; the societies and cities are built on those sands and under them lies that one resource. They are dependent on oil and we are dependent on oil – that makes it personal.

Our focus on oil rather than the living and political standards of the people in the region has further marginalized us for the citizens involved – they are offended by our cautious approach.  We have not offered much support, in Egypt we waited as long as we could and said as little as possible, just in case Mubarak survive.  In Libya we have less diplomatic connection with Gaddafi – unlike Mubarak he has opposed and not helped us for the last 40 years.  In consequence we – the government of the United States – have been outspoken in opposing Gaddafi and supporting the opposition.  But we are still careful trying not to disrupt the flow of oil to Europe – although Saudi Arabia is promising everyone that they will provide a constant source – at a premium price, of course – to oil.

I have asked a quite a few people about the situation – looking for different perspectives; I was particularly interested in people who lived in the region.  I got a series of comments from Israel; the person, an individual and not a spokesperson for Israel – hoped for some one to replace Mubarak who would be as friendly and cooperative with Israel; she hoped for change in Syria, stability in Lebanon and a quick resolution to all of the unrest; she also hoped for more democratic governments in the region, ones that might be more cooperative than military dictatorships or Islamic fundamentalist governments have been traditionally. Other than that she did not have a horse in any of the races; actually that position is about the same as the American or European position – more stability, more democracy and more cooperation. Who could argue with that?

There is a story of from an Israeli new source – Yediot Ahronot (latest knowledge) – about another Israeli position one the events in Egypt; I suspect tourists from every country share the Israeli view.  This week, some 1200 Israelis went to Egypt to go to casinos, up from 120 last week.  They said the Egyptians are doing everything they can to make them feel welcome and safe.  Isn’t that the goal of every tourist – to be allowed the freedom to roam around, look at everything, dance and gamble in the casino and then get back on the bus and go home safely?  More isn’t that what we all want from this?  Of course it is, we want as little disruption to our lives as possible – unfortunately for the citizens of Libya – and the other Arab states in conflict – that is all they want also, but for more powerful reasons.  I may have to pay four dollars for a gallon of gas, but no one in my family will die – pain is relative, but death is absolute.

So back to my Israeli friend – if I have a horse in this race it is much like hers – the humanitarian wish that it all end soon.

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