5 years ago
Poor Obama. This just isn’t what he signed up for when he decided that the World needed him to heal the planet and slow the rise of the oceans.
All those pesky, little people, yearning to be free. They just keep fouling up his Plan to make the World love him, er, America, again.
Every time Obama finds a nice authoritarian that he can work with, those darn democracy types throw the guy out or at least threaten to do so. In Tunisia, for example, the ambassador sent by Obama as the point man for U.S. policy there, had many fond things to say in 2010 about the now-defunct authoritarian regime.
Now comes this Reuters article by Matt Spetalnick and David Alexander, “Obama Ratchets Up Pressure On Egypt,” to further highlight what a tough time Obama is having with the protests against his buddy Mubarak in Egypt.
President Barack Obama called on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Thursday to make “absolutely critical” political reforms, ratcheting up pressure on a key U.S. ally in the face of street protests seeking his ouster.
Weighing in for the first time after three days of Egyptian unrest, Obama was careful to avoid any sign of abandoning Mubarak but made clear his sympathy for demonstrators he said were expressing “pent-up frustrations” after decades of authoritarian rule.
Yes, one can imagine that after “decades” of authoritarian rule the people might have some “pent up frustrations.” What kind of tongue-lashing did Mubarak get, exactly?
“I’ve always said to him that making sure that they are moving forward on reform — political reform, economic reform — is absolutely critical for the long-term well-being of Egypt,” Obama said as he answered questions from an online audience on the YouTube website.
Whoa! That’s mighty strong talk, Mr. President. Too bad Obama was not around in the 1970’s. He might have said the same thing to Brezhnev after decades of authoritarian rule in Eastern Europe and saved the U.S.S.R. the trouble of collapsing on itself. Talk about healing the planet!
Be careful, Hosni. Barack might not send you a birthday present this year. (Sadly, you will not be getting that bust of Winston Churchill that he was dying to unload).
How has that steady pressure by Obama worked out? According to the Reuter’s article:
Mubarak has rarely heeded U.S. pressure before over his government’s behavior, and it remains to be seen whether tougher language will translate into anything of substance.
Not fair, that. Obama is trying to give Mubarak some tough love, but sometimes you just have to let a strong ruler figure things out on their own.
Then there is this:
U.S. influence at the street level in Egypt and the rest of the Arab world is also minimal. Anti-American sentiment remains high despite Obama’s outreach to the Muslim world and his efforts to ease hostility toward Washington generated by his predecessor George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003.
The administration is also hemmed in by its desire to avoid the impression of further U.S. interference in the region. Bush’s “freedom agenda” was widely reviled in the Arab world.
That pesky “Arab street” again. How could they have resisted the prophetic magic of the Great Orator’s 2009 speech? Hasn’t Obama won them over with his teleprompter turn-of-phrase and smooth delivery? According to the Reuters article, not so much.
Next we read that the “administration is hemmed in” because it cannot afford to be seen as interfering in authoritarian’s business. Yes, that would be bad. Afterall, the article notes, everyone knows that “Bush’s ‘freedom agenda’ was widely reviled in the Arab world.”
Funny thing about that, though. Widely reviled? Perhaps Spetalnick and Alexander suffer from a common ailment of the Left: revisionist memory syndrome. Despite the undeniable unpopularity of the 2003 Iraq invasion, those pesky Arab people were surprisingly supportive of that Bush “freedom agenda.”
Strange, the average Arab seemed to strongly support democracy even while disapproving of U.S. “interference” in the region. That darn Bush again! He was just not sophisticated enough to realize that Arabs won’t support freedom if you interfere.
An excellent piece by Larry Diamond of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution is well worth a read in this regard. Mr. Diamond has the audacity to suggest that more interference, not less, is the way to inspire greater democracy in the authoritarian Middle East.
Sadly, it seems that Obama, like much of the Left, is far more comfortable with authoritarianism than with the messy apparatus of democracy. Time and again, the Obama Administration has failed to strongly condemn even the most brutal authoritarian regimes like Iran.
Why? Ultimately it may be due to a basic worldview where it is far easier, in Obama’s mind, to effect change through one, strong, all-powerful ruler, than through persuasion of large groups of independent-minded people. This is Obama’s approach, in general, to domestic policy as well. He strongly favors Big Government solutions and is not afraid to act unilaterally (such as the FCC net-neutrality and EPA carbon emission rules) where Congress refuses to go along quietly. It has been widely noted that Obama has a disturbing tendency to make himself the focus of everything he says or does.
In short, Obama treats authoritarians like Mubarak and Ahmadinejad with kid gloves because he has a natural affinity with them coupled with a deep fear of popular sentiment (see Tea Party movement, Obamacare opposition, reduction of Federal spending).
Not only does this not bode well for the cause of freedom in the Middle East, but we can expect more authoritarian reactions from Obama here in the U.S. as the Republican-controlled House increasingly resists his Big Government agenda.