[Note: Even if you aren't interested in Libya, don't miss the amazing quote at the end.]
Yahoo highlighted two amazing stories shortly after the murder of five American diplomats in Libya and the attack on the U.S. embassy in Egypt that tell us a lot about the intersection between American reality and Middle East reality.
The first article insisted that American officials thought the terror attack on the U.S. embassy was planned (yeah, I don’t think the terrorists were passing by and just happened to have a rocket with them). The other asked tentatively whether maybe the “Arab Spring” hadn’t worked out so well. It’s almost the end of 2012 and these people are still in kindergarten!
Libya tells the story with a terrible irony, but we should understand precisely what is going on and how the situation in Libya differs from that in Egypt. For it is proof of the bankruptcy of Obama policy, but perhaps in a different way from what many people think. So far the U.S. ambassador, four diplomats, and two U.S. soldiers trying to rescue the rest of the staff have been killed. According to a Libyan officer whose unit was helping the American rescue effort, the terrorists seemed to know precisely where the staffers were hiding. Might they have been tipped off by sources in the Libyan government or military? Probably.
What happened in Libya has nothing to do with an obscure video from California; it has everything to do with the question of which side rules Libya. And the relationship of the attacks to the September 11 anniversary was meant to show that the Libyan terrorists supported September 11 and wanted to continue that battle.
The problem in Libya is that Obama got what he wanted and thus set off all the usual Western policy dilemmas, which he always denounced and which have existed in the region for a century. But Obama is not only ill-equipped to deal with these problems. He also either cannot even recognize them or interprets them in ways disastrous for U.S. interests. For whatever reason, he wants to make nice with people who want to destroy his country. That might have been a forgivable naivete in early 2009, but by this point it is clear that Obama will never change and that four more years in office will not improve him and his administration by one millimeter.
Obama decided, although only after what we are told was a titanic inner struggle, to kill Osama bin Laden because bin Laden launched a direct attack on American soil. But he sees no need to battle those trying to take over the Middle East and crush its people (including women, Christians, homosexuals) and wipe Israel off the map. Nor does he see the need to wage effective struggle with governments that stand and deliberately do nothing while the American embassy is invaded or the American ambassador is murdered.
President Barack Obama and U.S. NATO allies got rid of a terrible dictatorship in Libya. Of course, there were dreadful murders and human rights abuses by the rebels — even racist murders of people because they had black skin and were thus presumed to be supporters of the old dictator! — but Libya was too obscure a place and the mass media either didn’t care or wouldn’t hold Obama responsible for these things.
Then Obama had a second success in the election, where his client politician won over the Islamists. True, the new regime gives lip service to Sharia law, but it is not a radical regime. It is precisely the kind of government, given the limiting conditions of Libyan society, that the West would want in Libya.
And now the problem begins. For the great “anti-imperialist” Obama has set up a classical “imperialist” situation. In Iran, for example, the Eisenhower administration helped an existing, legitimate regime stay in power in 1953, and this supposedly led to Iranian radicalism and seizure of the U.S. embassy a quarter-century later. In Libya, the process may just take a few months.
The Islamists of various factions, ranging from the Muslim Brotherhood to al-Qaeda supporters, loathe the new government and the fact that the United States is behind it. In other words, Obama has just done what he has been denouncing his whole life: interfered in another country and “bullied” it into submission to America’s will. Now he has sent two American warships to Libya’s coasts. Obama’s friends call this “gunboat diplomacy.”
One special feature of this situation, of course, is that some of those he helped were anti-American terrorists, armed and trained by NATO. Some of these people have entered the new military, others are now trying a stage-two revolution to overthrow the regime and institute a real Islamist revolution.
Otherwise, though, it follows the usual pattern. The Islamist revolutionaries have not accepted the status quo and hope to seize state power and drive out the Americans.