US recognition of Egypt's democratically elected Islamist President, begs questions over the fate of Gaza's democratically elected Islamist leaders, how the US forces old Egyptian military friends to play democratic ball, and, right next door, convince Israel to chuck out a report that, if implemented, will end Israel's (albeit disputed) claim to be a democracy.
What does the democratically elected Islamist leader of Egypt have that the democratically elected Islamist leaders of Gaza do not have?
Well apart from timing - 2012 vs 2006 - it would appear the consequences of the Arab Spring have finally dawned on those who have self-servingly meddled in the Middle East for years.
Lesson: it is not up to others to decide who people in sovereign states vote for, no matter how embryonis their democracy may be.
When the people of Gaza had the audacity to vote for Hamas in a US encouraged election six years ago the exercise of their democratic rights met the force of the ‘West’, and, trapped in their open-air prison, they are still paying dearly for that.
Wind forward six years and voila! An Islamist from a previously banned organisation is the President of Egypt. The democratically elected President. Perhaps the Gazans have not noticed.
This latest event has called for some extraordinary diplomatic dancing from Hillary Clinton who has just been to pay Mohamed Morsi a little visit - no doubt primarily to get him to pledge to honour the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.
The Muslim Brotherhood is the politically dominant force in Egypt, but while President Morsi may wear the title, he’s missing the power. In a move that would rival an unmanned US drone, Egypt’s new President has been stealthily emasculated - in a political sense of course. The culprits? The reliable old mates of the US in the form of the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which just so happens to be the recipient of more than $1 billion in US aid annually, and whose favoured candidate was defeated by Morsi.
Juggling old friends and new can be a very tough game.
But it is SCAF that needs to get with the new programme - that the Brotherhood now frequents the Presidential Palace, not the prisons and torture chambers of the former dictator.
The Brotherhood was feared, loathed and naturally, banned because banning is what dictators do when fearful and loathsome of legitimate threats.
The difficulty for Clinton is that the smiling Field Marshall Tantawi may be a gracious host of flash foreign Secretaries of State, but he’s adamant he will not allow a “certain group” to dominate Egypt. That is a real spanner in the democracy wheel, and to a large degree exposes the US as having precious little influence over either side.
Morsi - a man elected by Egyptians - will not do the US bidding in the region as Mubarak did.
SCAF - a military entity determined to retain as much power as possible - will not be influenced by US dollars if that means relinquishing its extremely lucrative domestic power.
All Clinton could do was opine that she looked forward to the “full transition to civilian rule with all that entails”, and amidst the usual assortment of expected banalities, hoped that the military return to its true function as the protector of national security, and, pledge US support for democratic governments everywhere. (Except in Gaza).
If anything the US is learning fast that Egyptian democracy has moved from the policy pages to the physical world. Be careful what you say you wish for perhaps!.
As if Egypt’s democracy troubles were not enough for the Secretary of State, right next door a new twist on democracy is exposing a few home truths for US ally Israel.
Last week an Israeli government commissioned report dismissed any notion that the West Bank is occupied land, and called for Israeli settlements to continue unabated.
The Levy report, which is being given “serious consideration” by the Netanyahu mega-coalition government is, as Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas noted, a slap in the face of the international community.
It is a blatant attempt through legal gymnastics to undermine extensive international and domestic efforts to end the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory, resulting hopefully, in a two state solution.
What did Clinton do? Urge Israel to help strengthen the Palestinian Authority and warn the Israeli leadership they may never have as reasonable a PA to deal with in the future.
In other words do everything possible to get the peace process restarted.
What would Netanyahu hear? The gentle hum of “blah, blah, blah”.
Yet it would be surprising if he does anything but chuck out Levy’s shekel-squandering missive.
Encouraging Israelis to expand settlements in an ethnic cleansing land grab akin to that championed by Ariel Sharon would perhaps spur the international community to actually do something about the moribund peace negotiations.
Otherwise settlement expansion would inevitably lead to a one state solution, not two.
Then the country of Israel, or whatever it would be called, would find the people it was set up to privilege, to be in the minority. The Zionist dream would be dead.
In the combined expanse of present day Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, there are more Palestinians and Arab Israelis than there are Jews, and the Palestinian birthrate guarantees the Israeli feared demographic time-bomb.
It is not rocket science to see what happens here.
Option A = Israel as a one-person-one-vote democracy would not be a Jewish state.
Option B = eschewing the basic democratic equality norm, while trying to survive by military means as a state, means discrimination according to race. We all know the word for that.
There is no Option C in a one (democratic) state solution.
While many within Netanyahu’s government would love the extra land Levy dangles enticingly before them, pragmatism suggests they tell Levy where to stick his report.
It’s a pity Clinton didn't make a point of repeating her State Department’s condemnation while having the attention of all the Israeli press, if not the Prime Minister.