Friday, February 25, 2011

Peter Beinart’s Liberal Fantasies

It is a difficult thing to keep one’s head when the world is in a state of euphoria. This is probably why so much of the coverage of recent events in Egypt, including the recent resignation of Hosni Mubarak and the installation of a military government, has lacked the kind of elementary skepticism that ought to be applied to any event of such potential magnitude. To a certain extent, this is understandable. The intoxicating power of revolutionary change is very real, and can overwhelm even the most cynical personality. It becomes problematic, however, when people become so addicted to it that, like any run-of-the-mill alcoholic, the suggestion that they might have a problem throws them into a defensive rage. The reaction toward Israel’s cautious skepticism in regard to the Egyptian revolution provides a case study in the phenomenon, with many apparently intelligent and worldly journalists throwing themselves into spasms of inchoate fear and loathing at the Israelis’ refusal to jump on the happy bandwagon. What this has revealed is not so much the childlike naïveté lurking beneath the sophisticated exterior of many commentators, but also their tendency to abandon their own intelligence whenever Israel is involved.