From Pakistan to Yemen, the al-Qaeda operatives who remain are scrambling, knowing that they can’t escape the reach of the United States of America.
I see no evidence of that. The biggest hits to the al-Qaeda leadership, except for the killing of bin Ladin, happened during the Bush administration. Of course, Obama carefully picked his examples. Where other than Pakistan and Yemen might they live in fear? Certainly not in Libya.
Then we come to the “Arab Spring”:
As the tide of war recedes, a wave of change has washed across the Middle East and North Africa, from Tunis to Cairo, from Sana’a to Tripoli.
Obama could have said the same thing two years ago. Since then, however, the shaky coalition government in Tunisia is crumbling after the most courageous opposition leader was assassinated, and the Brotherhood is tightening its hold. In Egypt, the Brotherhood is in power and at the very moment Obama was speaking was engaged in repressing street protests. In Yemen, substantially nothing has changed. In Tripoli (it was wise not to mention Libya’s other main city, Benghazi), there is a reasonable level of success.
Perhaps the greatest change in governance has come in Iraq, but Obama doesn’t want to mention that because that would imply a tip of the hat to George W. Bush. By the way, is Obama going to urge Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority leader, to hold elections when he visits Ramallah in late March? He’s still governing three years after his term ended.
It was wise for Obama to emphasize who is leaving rather than who is coming into power:
A year ago, Gadhafi was one of the world’s longest-serving dictators, a murderer with American blood on his hands. Today, he is gone.
Hmm… someone in Libya with “American blood on his hands”? Glad there’s nobody like that around anymore!
And in Syria, I have no doubt that the Assad regime will soon discover that the forces of change cannot be reversed and that human dignity cannot be denied.
Oh, I’ll bet that a lot of Syrians are going to learn that human dignity can be denied in the face of ethnic massacres and a new regime where the Muslim Brotherhood rules and Salafists run around free to do as they please. (Though for U.S. interests it will be an improvement that could have been much better if America had helped the moderates instead of the Islamists.)
And while it’s ultimately up to the people of the region to decide their fate, we will advocate for those values that have served our own country so well. We will stand against violence and intimidation. We will stand for the rights and dignity of all human beings, men and women, Christians, Muslims, and Jews. We will support policies that lead to strong and stable democracies and open markets, because tyranny is no match for liberty.
Strange, but the democratic opposition movements say the precise opposite. See, for example, the open letter to Obama, written in the last few days, by an Egyptian human rights activist begging the president to stop helping and praising the oppressive forces!
And we will safeguard America’s own security against those who threaten our citizens, our friends, and our interests. Look at Iran. Through the power of our diplomacy, a world that was once divided about how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program now stands as one. The regime is more isolated than ever before. Its leaders are faced with crippling sanctions. And as long as they shirk their responsibilities, this pressure will not relent. Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal.
But Iran will get nuclear weapons, it continues working on them at a full pace, and you will spend this year in fruitless negotiations to try to persuade them to stop.