Obama says that the United States “has supported the forces of change” in the Arab Spring. But he does not evaluate these forces. The old regimes were tyrannical, but what will replace them? Well, to prove he doesn’t comprehend there is a serious battle within the “forces of change,” Obama actually said: “We again declare that the regime of Bashar al-Assad must come to an end so that the suffering of the Syrian people can stop, and a new dawn can begin.”
A new dawn? Almost a century ago, revolutionaries were overthrowing the czar, widely viewed in the West as the world’s worst tyrant, and it was assumed that whatever happened would mark the beginning of a new dawn. Thirty years ago, those assumptions were repeated with Iran, where the world’s worst tyrant was supposedly being overthrown and the result had to be a “new dawn.” Each of these events generated massive sufferings and several wars.
The implication is that Obama believes that all change is good; that nothing can be worse in the region. This is a very dangerous conclusion, especially about the Middle East. It is not a strategy, but merely a tossing of the dice in a casino where the dice are very crooked indeed.
Going all Abe Lincoln, Obama continued:
I am convinced that ultimately government of the people, by the people and for the people is more likely to bring about the stability, prosperity, and individual opportunity that serve as a basis for peace in our world.
Well, perhaps, but what does that have to do with the actual existing governments? These words are a typical Western view that materialistic interests must triumph, rather than taking into account the power of ideology and the things regimes need to do to stay in power. In 1979, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, leader of Iran’s revolution, said that Western observers thought the upheaval in his country was about the price of watermelons — that is, about how best to achieve prosperity — and that this was ridiculous. One-third of a century later, the Iranian regime is still in power and still following Khomeini’s radical approach. Why should we not expect the same to be true in Egypt, and perhaps soon in Syria?
Indeed, his line in the speech parallels the old view of U.S. leaders: if Yasir Arafat and the PLO could only be given their own entity and offered their own state, turned into responsible politicians who have to fix potholes and provide jobs, there would be peace and stability in the Middle East. This formula has never worked anywhere in the region.
Whatever he truly believes, Obama’s publicly stated assumption is based on the wishful thinking of a community organizer rather than the hardheaded evaluations of a statesman:
Those in power have to resist the temptation to crack down on dissent. In hard economic times, countries may be tempted to rally the people around perceived enemies, at home and abroad, rather than focusing on the painstaking work of reform.
You mean like his policy of mobilizing people to hate the rich? But why shouldn’t they crack down and rally the people against perceived enemies, acting like he does but with the added violence and intolerance of those political cultures? Why does his thinking provide no possibility of that happening? Who is going to make them “resist the temptation” to be aggressive if there is no strong superpower that is going to hold them to account?