American Elephants

Arab Spring, Fall Foreign Policy Blunder. by The Elephant's Child

The “Arab Spring” was much celebrated by the Obama administration and the American media as an uprising of the Arab peoples living in the dictatorships of North Africa. Hope and change, freedom and democracy were, they were sure, in the wind.

If you remember, Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old Tunisian street vendor helped to start  what has become known as the Arab Spring, by an act of desperation by a young man whose efforts to eke out a living for his family were thwarted by government officials at every turn. He set himself on fire, for all to see, in a public square.

That act sparked a mass uprising in Tunisia, that quickly spread o Egypt, Yemen, Libya and Syria. So many spontaneous uprisings, at such a rapid pace.  Bouazizi’s self-immolation epitomized may Arab’s sense of helplessness and despair. Unorganized unhappiness and calls for leaders to “leave.” But in revolutions and uprisings, the organized are often prepared to take the opportunities that present themselves. And so it has been.

In Egypt, there was an 82-year-old dictator, 29 years in power, seeking another term while scheming to hand off power to his unpopular son. It was obvious that the Islamists would run away with the elections. And so they did, and we now have a bumper crop of Islamist regimes so radical that we’ll miss Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi. These are the results of the “democracy in the Middle East” that President Obama and the left managed with one of the worst foreign policy blunders in history.

Tens of thousands of Muslims rioted in Cairo’s Tahir Square last January, and the White House and the media spoke breathlessly of Western-style freedom blooming across the Arab desert. When skeptics cautioned that the Arab world has no history of democracy and radical Islamists would probably step in, the left sneered that they were bigots.

They ignored polls showing that large majorities of Egyptians were yearning for the chance to vote in Islamic law. Two-thirds wanted to get rid of Mubarak so they could have stonings of adulterers and beheadings of apostates — in Tahir Square.

Obama urged on the rioters and pressured Mubarak to step down. The Muslim Brotherhood got 60% of the vote, Mohamed Morsi was elected President, and promptly dismissed all the Generals of the Egyptian Army.

Now he has become guarantor of the cease fire between the Israelis and Gaza in a bizarre step, and on the strength of that granted himself broad powers above any court, declaring himself the guardian of Egypt’s revolution, and used his new powers to order the retrial of Hosni Mubarak. One Dictator gone to be replaced by another.

Opponents of President Mohamed Morsi were reported to have set fire to his party’s offices in several Egyptian cities in a spasm of protest after he claimed new powers. In Alexandria there were clashes between opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party and his followers.

Mr. Morsi, a longstanding member of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood won Western plaudits only days ago for “brokering a cease-fire” to halt eight days of lethal exchanges between Israeli defense forces and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

Egypt is the most populous state in the Middle East, but poor. It cannot feed itself, but vast amounts of American aid seem to help. Their most important industry is tourism, which is not flourishing in the face of immanent uprisings at any moment.  Yet you have Islamists so radical that they want to tear down and destroy the pyramids as blasphemous, which are the nations only significant source of income. Stonings and beheadings in Tahir Square will probably not go over as tourist attractions.

I’m not sure that either Susan Rice nor John Kerry are up to the job.


Should the U.S. Aid Egypt? Mohamed Morsi Demonstrates Why It’s a Bad Idea. by The Elephant's Child

The New York Times reports that “on the eve of his first trip to the Unites States as Egypt’s new Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi said the United States needed to fundamentally change its approach to the Arab world, showing greater respect for its values and helping build a Palestinian state, if it hoped to overcome decades of pent-up anger.”

That policy of apologizing to the Muslims for their bad behavior is working out well, isn’t it, Mr. Obama?  Any second thoughts?

“Morsi sought to introduce himself to the American public and to revise the terms of relations between his country and the United States after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. He said it was up to Washington to repair relations with the Arab world and to revitalize the alliance with Egypt, long a cornerstone of regional stability.”

Mr. Obama has apparently noticed the antipathy on the right at least to his apologies, for he has cancelled his scheduled visit with Mr. Morsi, which even the New York Times called “a politically risky plan.”

The president speaks to the UN General Assembly tomorrow. It will be interesting to see if he has recalled that we have freedom of speech here, guaranteed by our Constitution, and we really don’t need to apologize to anyone for that.

Whether the astonishment at his casual remark on Sixty Minutes  suggesting that the assassination of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, diplomat Sean Smith, SEALS Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty was just “a bump in the road”— the rocky road of relations with Moslem North Africa, caught his notice, or whether he will just apologize to the world remains to be seen. A little backbone would be welcome. This apology bit is getting old.

The Obama administration has made a shambles of the whole situation, from failing to prepare for the anniversary of 9/11, failing to have a decently protected consulate in Benghazi, failing to recognize the signs of imminent attack, failing to protect the US ambassador and other personnel. It is clear that the attackers already knew the consulate was essentially unprotected and knew of the location and status of the safe house.

The attack dealt a major setback to the CIA and their intelligence-gathering efforts at a time when the area is unstable. According to the New York Times, about two dozen American personnel and contractors who played a crucial role in conducting surveillance and information on the armed militant groups in and around the city.

I have no idea if President Obama will regroup, continue to blame the filmmaker, or show greater respect for some “values” of the Arab world. Congress can decide what they think of the terms Mr. Morsi offers. If they find them acceptable, they can continue to aid Egypt. If not, they should cut Egypt off. If it is better for America if Mr. Morsi loses power, then we should probably stop sending them money.

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