February 9, 2011 US Policy Options Limited on Egypt- Jerusalam Judge a Suicide Victim

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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

February 9, 2011 US Policy Options Limited on Egypt- Jerusalam Judge a Suicide Victim

After participating in an hour-long White House phone briefing on the situation in Egypt, I now understand the US government’s frustrations at the limits of US power. The US has set forth three principals; respect for Human Rights, non-violence and changes to meet the long-term aspirations of the Egyptian people for democracy and freedom. The US government is strong enough to force a stalemate, but does not have the leverage to bring about real change. It has stopped the Egyptian government from cracking down on the demonstrators but seems unable to force the government to take positive actions. US government officials seem frustrated that Egyptian government has not implemented all of the reforms that the US has been suggesting. On the other hand it is not clear that all the reforms in the world will satisfy the demonstrators as long as Mubarak stays in office.

I find it interesting that the journalist on the call kept on coming back to the question- has the US threatened to withhold aid from Egypt if the Egyptian government does not comply to US suggestions. They totally miss the point. US aid to Egypt is $1.5 billion out of an economy of $450 billion. If anyone thinks that would be enough to convince the Mubarak government to do something it really does to do, they are clueless.

An Israeli judge committed suicide yesterday blaming the pressure of the job and the overwhelming caseload. This has once again brought to the public discourse the problems of the Israeli judiciary. It is one of my pet peeves. In this system, trials are held over many months, and because there is no jury the judge renders the verdict many months after the trial is over. Leaving aside the workload involved, I have always found it impossible to believe that judges could consistently arrive at the right judgment when working many trials simultaneously, especially because their decisions are reached many months after the end of the trials.

Today, the Knesset Defense Committee recommended the acquisition of 17 Iron Dome systems to defend Israel from short and medium range missile attacks. Only two systems have been purchased to date and they have been placed on air force bases and not in defense of cities. At 500 billion shekels, the cost of the systems are not cheap. The IDF hates buying defensive systems, however the cost is less then the price of the 3 newF-35 aircraft that the IAF wishes to acquire. It is frankly beyond my comprehension why the IDF is not buying the systems.

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