The following essay was originally published by A Conservative Teacher on Tuesday, February 1, 2011.
Obama is Picking Worst of Bad Options in Egypt. Is Obama Getting Advise from Jimmy Carter?
Earlier last week I was critical of Obama’s response to Tunisia’s revolution, where it appeared that rather than take an active role in events, Obama’s administration simply sat on the sidelines and tried to figure out where Tunisia was (I’m kidding- I heard that he had a 40 minute briefing on Tunisia after the revolution broke out- I’m sure he learned about it then). He is dangerously incompetent, especially on important world events that our President is supposed to be the primary actor on in our political system. The revolution in Tunisia though was just the start of something bigger, something that the Iranian Revolution of 1979 has taught us will have repercussions lasting decades, and that is the revolution that is taking place right now in Egypt.
For the past couple days I have been trying to get a handle on events there, much like our President, and like usual, my reactions have mirrored Obama’s. First I first supported the young revolutionaries against the bad dictator, while Obama supported the bad dictator. But now I support the bad dictator over the evil militant terrorist groups who want to take power in Egypt, while Obama now supports the evil militant terrorist groups (he supports them by not saying anything bad about them while saying bad stuff about Mubarak- that’s an upgrade over his usual ‘voting present’ by showing support for the bad guys). Obama is dangerously incompetent again and once again, anyone who voted for him or his party made our nation and world a worse place by doing so.
The best article that I have found to help me get a handle on what is going on in Egypt appeared today in the Jerusalum Post by Caroline Glick called Our World: Clueless in Washington. I am going to pass on some of the better parts of it to you to help you too understand a little bit better what is going on in Egypt…
The Egyptian multitudes on the streets of Cairo are a stunning sight. With their banners calling for freedom and an end to the reign of President Hosni Mubarak the story these images tell is a simple one as old as time.
On the one hand we have the young, dispossessed and weak protesters. And on the other we have the old, corrupt and tyrannical Mubarak. Hans Christian Andersen taught us who to support when we were wee tots.
But does his wisdom apply in this case?
Certainly it is true that the regime is populated by old men. Mubarak is 82 years old. It is also true that his regime is corrupt and tyrannical. Since the Muslim Brotherhood spinoff Islamic Jihad terror group murdered Mubarak’s predecessor president Anwar Sadat in 1981, Egypt has been governed by emergency laws that ban democratic freedoms. Mubarak has consistently rejected US pressure to ease regime repression and enact liberal reforms in governance.
This reality has led many American commentators across the political spectrum to side enthusiastically with the rioters. A prestigious working group on Egypt formed in recent months by Middle East experts from Left and Right issued a statement over the weekend calling for the Obama administration to dump Mubarak and withdraw its support for the Egyptian regime. It recommended further that the administration force Mubarak to abdicate and his regime to fall by suspending all economic and military assistance to Egypt for the duration.
The blue ribbon panel’s recommendations were applauded by its members’ many friends across the political spectrum. For instance, the conservative Weekly Standard’s editor William Kristol praised the panel on Sunday and wrote, “It’s time for the US government to take an active role… to bring about a South Korea/Philippines/Chile-like transition in Egypt, from an American-supported dictatorship to an American-supported and popularly legitimate liberal democracy.”
The problem with this recommendation is that it is based entirely on the nature of Mubarak’s regime. If the regime was the biggest problem, then certainly removing US support for it would make sense. However, the character of the protesters is not liberal.
Indeed, their character is a bigger problem than the character of the regime they seek to overthrow.
According to a Pew opinion survey of Egyptians from June 2010, 59 percent said they back Islamists. Only 27% said they back modernizers. Half of Egyptians support Hamas. Thirty percent support Hizbullah and 20% support al Qaida. Moreover, 95% of them would welcome Islamic influence over their politics. When this preference is translated into actual government policy, it is clear that the Islam they support is the al Qaida Salafist version.
Eighty two percent of Egyptians support executing adulterers by stoning, 77% support whipping and cutting the hands off thieves. 84% support executing any Muslim who changes his religion.
When given the opportunity, the crowds on the street are not shy about showing what motivates them. They attack Mubarak and his new Vice President Omar Suleiman as American puppets and Zionist agents. The US, protesters told CNN’s Nick Robertson, is controlled by Israel. They hate and want to destroy Israel. That is why they hate Mubarak and Suleiman.
WHAT ALL of this makes clear is that if the regime falls, the successor regime will not be a liberal democracy. Mubarak’s military authoritarianism will be replaced by Islamic totalitarianism. The US’s greatest Arab ally will become its greatest enemy. Israel’s peace partner will again become its gravest foe.
What has most confounded Israeli officials and commentators alike has not been the strength of the anti-regime protests, but the American response to them. Outside the far Left, commentators from all major newspapers, radio and television stations have variously characterized the US response to events in Egypt as irrational, irresponsible, catastrophic, stupid, blind, treacherous, and terrifying.
They have pointed out that the Obama administration’s behavior – as well as that of many of its prominent conservative critics – is liable to have disastrous consequences for the US’s other authoritarian Arab allies, for Israel and for the US itself.
The question most Israelis are asking is why are the Americans behaving so destructively? Why are President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton charting a course that will necessarily lead to the transformation of Egypt into the first Salafist Islamic theocracy? And why are conservative commentators and Republican politicians urging them to be even more outspoken in their support for the rioters in the streets?
Does the US not understand what will happen in the region as a result of its actions? Does the US really fail to understand what will happen to its strategic interests in the Middle East if the Muslim Brotherhood either forms the next regime or is the power behind the throne of the next regime in Cairo?…
…As Prof. Barry Rubin wrote this week, “There is no good policy for the United States regarding the uprising in Egypt but the Obama administration may be adopting something close to the worst option.”
Unfortunately, given the cluelessness of the US foreign policy debate, this situation is only likely to grow worse.
Two more years remain in President Obama’s term of office. Hopefully voters in America will wake up and realize how dangerously incompetent his administration has been and how destructive the impulse to take a flier on this unknown was.