11.24.12 1:46 PM ET
The Gaza Conflict's Winners and Losers
My National Post column describes the ultimate results of the latest skirmishes in Gaza.
Who stands where after this week’s fighting in Gaza? Let’s tally the list, from the biggest winners to the biggest losers.
1) Egypt’s President Muhammad Morsi scored big for himself and his Muslim Brotherhood movement. On Wednesday, Morsi issued a new “constitutional declaration” that further consolidated his own power. Article VI confers on Morsi the power to rule by decree. Article II immunizes him from legislative and judicial scrutiny.
This week’s authoritarian actions move Egypt rapidly along the way to one-party Muslim Brotherhood rule. They occurred without a murmur of protest from the United States. More than that: On Wednesday, Egypt signed an agreement to borrow $4.8-billion from the International Monetary Fund, at a concessionary interest rate of 1.06%. As the largest shareholder in the IMF, the United States could have stopped the loan had it wished. Instead, the loan proceeded — almost as if it were the price of Egypt’s good offices in Gaza.
2) The Obama administration. President Obama has suffered from a perception that he was not a reliable friend of Israel’s. The events of last week will quiet those concerns, at least for a time. The President publicly endorsed Israel’s right to defend itself. The administration may have privately urged restraint; if so, none of those urgings were heard in public. The Obama administration allowed “no daylight” between itself and Israel on this issue — gaining new credibility for any future time it opts to apply pressure on the Netanyahu government.
Moving now to the mid-point of the tally — those who both gained and lost — we come to:
3) The Netanyahu government. Israel suffered human and economic losses from this utterly unnecessary conflict. However, it did put an end to the missile barrage without the need for a bloody ground war, and without provoking international odium. Benjamin Netanyahu continues his record as the most militarily cautious of Israeli prime ministers. He proceeds now to Israel’s January elections in a very strong position.