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Belmont Club

Who Lost the Middle East?

July 4th, 2013 - 12:45 am

Both of these developments were reported last evening: Al Arabiya published the article “Saudi king congratulates Egypt’s new interim president”; Time magazine reported that ”Obama expresses ‘concern’ over Morsi ouster, orders review in military aid to Egypt.”

In the light of the Saudi king’s fulsome congratulations, Obama’s sour reservations suggest a rift between the White House and the kingdom — they’re not singing off the same sheet of music. The Saudi king sounds delighted, while Obama acts like he’s lost his shirt. Here’s what the president said about the sudden departure of Morsi:

As I have said since the Egyptian Revolution, the United States supports a set of core principles, including opposition to violence, protection of universal human rights, and reform that meets the legitimate aspirations of the people. The United States does not support particular individuals or political parties, but we are committed to the democratic process and respect for the rule of law. Since the current unrest in Egypt began, we have called on all parties to work together to address the legitimate grievances of the Egyptian people, in accordance with the democratic process, and without recourse to violence or the use of force.

The United States is monitoring the very fluid situation in Egypt, and we believe that ultimately the future of Egypt can only be determined by the Egyptian people. Nevertheless, we are deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian Armed Forces to remove President Morsy and suspend the Egyptian constitution. I now call on the Egyptian military to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible through an inclusive and transparent process, and to avoid any arbitrary arrests of President Morsy and his supporters. Given today’s developments, I have also directed the relevant departments and agencies to review the implications under U.S. law for our assistance to the Government of Egypt.

The United States continues to believe firmly that the best foundation for lasting stability in Egypt is a democratic political order with participation from all sides and all political parties —secular and religious, civilian and military. During this uncertain period, we expect the military to ensure that the rights of all Egyptian men and women are protected, including the right to peaceful assembly, due process, and free and fair trials in civilian courts. Moreover, the goal of any political process should be a government that respects the rights of all people, majority and minority; that institutionalizes the checks and balances upon which democracy depends; and that places the interests of the people above party or faction. The voices of all those who have protested peacefully must be heard – including those who welcomed today’s developments, and those who have supported President Morsy. In the interim, I urge all sides to avoid violence and come together to ensure the lasting restoration of Egypt’s democracy.

No transition to democracy comes without difficulty, but in the end it must stay true to the will of the people. An honest, capable and representative government is what ordinary Egyptians seek and what they deserve. The longstanding partnership between the United States and Egypt is based on shared interests and values, and we will continue to work with the Egyptian people to ensure that Egypt’s transition to democracy succeeds.

To Claire Berlinski, writing only a few days ago in City Journal from Turkey, the statement must have sounded depressingly familiar. She wrote a piece that was effectively about the prequel to Obama’s statement about Egypt … except that it was about Turkey. It contained the same signature lines. The admonition to bear with disappointments — even betrayal — which were normal in a mature democracy. The Turks were to take it from Barack — he knew all about democracy.

Following the protests against Erdogan in Turkey, Berlinkski noted the U.S. ambassador trotted out the same counsel of patience with respect to Turkish discontent that the White House is now advancing to explain Cairo. She wrote:

After all, they’re told daily that what they are experiencing is normal, and that this is what all “advanced democracies” do. It would have been better by far to say nothing than to confirm these lies and better still to explain that in the United States, you’re unlikely ever to be arrested for demonstrating peacefully, nor will you ever be arrested for anything you say, and that it is very much our hope that Turks will one day experience this extraordinary freedom that we cherish.

[Ambassador] Ricciardone’s remarks caused real harm. The Turkish government immediately exploited his words. Headlines in the local papers announced, “Gezi Park protests are not exaggerated by White House.” … the Turkish people learned that America had emerged from it saying: “Green light. We have no problem. Keep going.” And keep going Erdoğan’s government has. The next day, Interior Minister Muammer Güler announced that the government was preparing laws to fix “legislative gaps” in the regulation of social media—the one place where Turks might have a chance of finding actual news.

The United States may be permanently alienating the next generation of Turks, the ones with whom we really do want to be friends. When rumors that kids who are getting brutalized have been screaming, “Please help us, Obama” circulate over the Internet, followed by statements from our ambassador that the United States and Turkey share “the same ideas” about freedom and democracy, it confirms every suspicious instinct Turks have about the gulf between what America says about human rights and what we mean.

Perhaps that should read: ” … the gulf between what Obama says about human rights and what Obama means.”.At any rate, the shambles littering North Africa to the Levant suggest that Ted Cruz’s description of the administration’s regional policy as “one of the most stunning diplomatic failures in recent memory” may be an understatement.

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Top Rated Comments   
Obama knows nothing about foreign affairs. His understanding of them consists solely of the post-colonial narrative: before the evil white males came the people of the Third World existed in a state of Eden-like bliss. If any of them are currently hell holes this is due to the scars left by the West's subjugation and exploitation of them. But the cure, in any and every case, is to expunge all Western influences from their cultures.

There are a lot of stupid people who believe this. Obama is one of them. Its on page one of The Conduct of Foreign Affairs for Leftist Dummies. Its a wonderful book. All seven sentences of it.

That is his guide and predictably enough it has ended in disaster.

But the real rub for Obama is that the situation in Egypt makes him look stupid. That, as simple as it is, is IMHO the gist of it. Because that I think is his real Achilles Heel. He cannot stand for anyone to even suggest that his intellect is anything other than stellar. Its all about him. In his strange little world that's all it can ever be about.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama said "...but we are committed to the democratic process and respect for the rule of law"

Really? Can you bring your global aspirations home and implement a voter ID system like you advocated in Africa to minimize voter fraud? How about bring the justice department under justice? Eric Holder is a scofflaw and is in open defiance to a congressional inquiry as well as your shock troops in the IRS. You sir, are the most anti-democratic leader in the history of the United States and I hope a coup here restores the rule of law to our capital. You are a low-life thug and criminal.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
It isn't that Obama's words are wrong but that they have no connection with reality. Democracy is not the form but the content. A Chicago Ward Healer can be an expert on how to fill out the forms according to the election laws, but still ensure that the ballot boxes are stuffed and the opposition is destroyed using dirty tricks like sealed divorce records.

"... explain that in the United States, you’re unlikely ever to be arrested for demonstrating peacefully."
Claire Berlinkski, who must be the bravest woman around, should write the book. She could be this age's William Shirer. Is she single?

Nothing refutes the notion that Obama, and more importantly thousands of Democratic Party officials, like the vision of an America with the forms and words preserved under glass but the reality gutted to enable naked manipulation and cronyism. There future is an America where the ideals are relics, like the anthems of the ants in "The Once and Future King."

Can American's be arrested for peaceful lawful protest? Can their property be taken and their lives destroyed because of a political disagreement or because they are considered socially disagreeable? Can the coercive powers of the state be used to advance private interests?

Who are the enemies of Democracy? Are they the middle class business and military people who say "No" to corruption and cronyism to preserve a small space for personal liberty or are they the ones who use the forms of democracy to advance Totalitarianism?

The sickness in Egyptian society runs deep. The assaults on women come apparently from all sides, Islamist and Leftist. Can the Saudis of all people help the Egyptians get into a saner place?
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (92)
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The problem with the President and his statement, he really does not believe in the elective form of government, as evidenced by his total disregard for the rules in his own two elections. So how can he ask other countries to obey the rule of law with their elected president? His statement is a total display of hypocrisy and the world knows it. God help us all if this man continues to "rule" us. We really need an article of impeachment or we are doomed.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Couple of things.

First, I think it's missing the point and misreading the M.O. of the President to assume that any events are following his "plan". His making a statement IS the plan. He speaks and the world needs to listen and bend to his will. He just needs to talk, is all. Why plan beyond that? It worked for a lot of things like passing stimulus bills we couldn't afford and gathering adoring crowds in Europe and annexing the healthcare delivery industry, not to mention winning two national elections. By the power of his words, public and private, magical things happen. Jack Ryan's divorce records are unsealed despite both parties to the divorce objecting, the IRS volunteers to encumber his opponents in 2012, Hosni Mubarak is overthrown and on and on. Comes a point where from his perspective he's done what he can do by speaking. Where this fails is in places where there aren't people who are satisfied with either crumbs from his table or the simple fact that he has taken notice of them. Fundamentally, Turkey is about beer and Egypt is about bread and those are low enough on the hierarchy of needs that words don't replace them. Instead of "Be he clothed and fed" he's saying "Be ye wisely led", but it's fundamentally the same thing. Words Not Deeds! De Oppresso Audi!

Secondly, Claire Berlinski may be overly generous to the President in assuming that what he sees the Erdogan and Morsi governments doing is different than his ideal form of democratic government. We rarely criticize what we aspire to, after all. For those who think that I am being overly critical, cf IRS and NSA scandals of 2013. It's entirely possible the President sees the level of autocracy displayed by the Morsi and Erdogan governments as within the bounds of acceptable democratic forms. His support for both has of necessity been massaged into a more soothing and diplomatic tone, if State and the White House can support the crushing of the Green Revolution in Iran as well as the Erdogan and Morsi form of participatory government, then one would assume that personal support for those practices must be even stronger than expressed.

His time as a Constituional Law instructor I see much like his Nobel Peace Prize. If he'll take the latter and then drone strike the bejeezus out of Pakistan and Yemen, it makes me wonder for what plans the former will serve as fig leaf.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Democracy can only work properly when the civil rights of minorities are protected and respected! Islamic fanatics refuse to understand this. They want to "use" democracy to institute Sharia law, which enslaves or destroys minorities. We must understand the same: voting without civil rights protection is not only futile but ultimately dangerous.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
The most important question for us all is: has Obama's golf game improved over the past 7 years?
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
What, pray ell, would you, Dr. Rubin, or Ted Cruz do differently? Sorry but sitting on the sidelines, throwing criticisms without offering alternatives is something the Libs do. You're smart, please tell us what the US should be doing in concrete terms. Please.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Of course, the recommendations I just posted are about as likely to be implemented by this Progressive administration, as the possibility that I would be elected President myself ... a probability that, in practical terms, makes lotto tickets look like a retirement investment ... since the hubris of the Cult of the Credentialed and Connected Omniscient that is currently running things knows no bounds at present.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Change the language being used, so that our emphasis is upon establishing governance that secures the unalienable rights of individual Egyptian citizens, instead of portraying the process of democracy as the be-all-end-all.

Mindlessly chanting the mantra of "democracy" is how this mess with Morsi got started.

Then, act accordingly in our dealings with the new government ... tie our support to progress in establishing such rights-respecting governance, and make it crystal clear that they cannot let religion or politics get in the way of that, if they expect support from us. Call out those who we see opposing this effort, and let the Egyptian people know that such individuals are the problem.

We must be patient, but firm on this. It is the path to sustainable peace.

Frankly, what we should have done is - starting years ago - pressure Mubarak to establish rights-respecting governance. The "realism" and moral myopia of Progressive diplomacy inhibited this ... at the expense of our credibility in the eyes of the people of Egypt.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Here is the problem: we cannot establishianything; democracy is mob rule and has led to the mess in Egypt today. Tell me how you take hundreds of millions of adherents to Islam and the Koran which is their law and change them in even two generations? Christianity, certainly not as bad, had it's own insane period...but it outgrew the chaos...but, Islam has never attempted to change one word of its bible. Religious ideology is the most destructive. If any change begins, it will not be effective until the next century and oceans of bloodletting.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Here is the solution: free people have to stand up and enforce the idea that rights-respecting governance - not just democracy - is the price of admission to global civilization for these emerging nations.

You want to do business with us, you want to enjoy the blessings of this highly-interconnected worldwide society? Then get your act together so you don't enable tyrants to leverage those blessings to further their agendas at our expense in blood and treasure.

You don't? Then don't expect our ships and planes to make landfall in your nation ... don't expect us to do business with you, including selling you the tools that legitimate nations use for their defense and tyrants use to terrorize their victims ... we might come in and deliver aid to your people when disaster strikes, but don't expect our help to rebuild.

And, despite the above, if violent dysfunction still leaks out of your land to affect us, expect us to deal with it in a direct, timely, resolute and decisive manner, as WE see fit ... up to and including replacement of the current Powers That Be with a rights-respecting set.

That means, yes, people in these nations have to compel radical Islam to have its Reformation, or abandon it ... for its current demands of absolute obedience to a theocratic hierarchy is fundamentally incompatible with the unalienable rights of the individual.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Diplomad over at thediplomad.blogspot.com has been writing, as well, about the State Department's disastrous MidEast policies.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Carolyn Glick has written, and this column confirms, that Obama is a man of ideas, not results.

As long as his policy is consistent with his ideology, it doesn't matter if people are starving or killed or have jobs. It doesn't matter if countries are run by Islamic extremists and terrorists. All that matters is the narrative.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama has alienated and abandoned the moderate muslims who want to stand up to the islamic radicals, while doing everything he can to appease the islmamicist radicals who hate us, and have contempt for Obama, the great appeaser. Did you notice that all the recent protest signs in egypt never said death to america, they were solely anti Obama, because of Obamas policy of selling them out to the MB radicals.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Moderate muslims" they're as hard to track as the Yeti.

40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
"I have also directed the relevant departments and agencies to review the implications under U.S. law for our assistance to the Government of Egypt."
-- Obama

Translation: "I have directed my IRS to target my new political enemies in Egypt for not doing my will."
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
When the MB radicals were steadily moving egypt toward more and more hostility to the US, Obama would not hear of cutting back aid. Now that the egyptian people, and their military, courageously threw out the MB islamic radical thugs, NOW Obama is deciding to reconsider aid. Typical.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
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