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Ron Radosh

Obama Pursues the Bush Foreign Policy, or We Are All Neo-Cons Now

September 2nd, 2011 - 12:03 pm

Writing in the Washington Post Reuel Marc Gerecht and Mark Dubowitz present more arguments similar to those invoked by Mead. As they put it:

President Obama used American power to liberate a Muslim people. Like George W. Bush, Obama came into office with a narrower, “humbler” conception of America’s interests abroad. In his first visit to the region, he confused the majesty of Islam with the dignity of Muslim potentates. Sept. 11, 2001, transformed Bush. We must wait to see whether the Great Arab Revolt has permanently changed Obama.

The final answer is not yet in, but these authors argue that the reasons for supporting the Syrian opponents of Assad are as great as those used by Obama for wanting to save the people of Benghazi, whom Qadaffi had threatened. Aligned with Iran, and headquarters for Hezbollah, Syria is a greater threat to the U.S. and the region than was Libya. Forcing the end of the Assad regime may be easier. Rather than use military resources, it can be done with tougher sanctions, along with arm twisting of European allies. And, they point out, the U.S. can now give funds to the united Syrian opposition, which includes striking auto workers. It can also provide communications hardware, including wi-fi equipment.

The authors conclude:

Barack Obama is the son of an African Muslim and an American woman who dedicated her life to the Third World. He is tailor-made to lead the United States in expanding democracy to the most unstable, autocratic and religiously militant region of the globe. The president obviously hasn’t seen himself as that kind of “friend of Islam.” But the Great Arab Revolt is transforming the way Arab Muslims see themselves. It may do the same for Barack Obama.

This means, as Michael Ledeen points out on his PJMedia blog today, the Syrian regime is the main danger to our interests, along with Iran, and as he writes, “if it’s right to intervene in Libya to stop the carnage, is there not even more reason to stop the greater carnage in Syria and Iran?” And the means to help them is the same taken by the Reagan administration, of which Ledeen was a part, when it gave overt aid to the anti-Communists Solidarity members in Poland. It does not have to be via bombing or troops, but through the kind of support and aid that Ledeen has long advocated.

Finally, I offer some thoughts on an obvious problem. If Obama is pursuing policies similar to those taken by George W. Bush, why do we not see any giant protests against him from the Left, of the kind regularly seen during the Bush years? Where are Cindy Sheehan, Michael Moore, the anti-war marches on Washington, the condemnation of Obama for killing civilians in drone attacks, for keeping Guantanamo open, for using rendition, and for giving up on civilian trials of terrorists and proceeding with military tribunals?

All of these were brought up day in and day out against the Bush administration, and now we have nothing but silence. Does the Left really think that all they screamed about is now good, because this time it is being carried out by an African-American president whom they supported?

Of course, the Left was always wrong when it condemned Bush and Cheney. While the president may himself reevaluate his position and move from where he started out, as Gerecht and Dubowitz hope he will, the organized left wing will not. I think that their quiet is motivated only by one thing alone — to attack President Obama is to, in essence, attack their own cadres, whom they pushed to do the hard work in 2008 to get Obama elected. To reevaluate openly is to harm their own credibility, so they prefer to remain silent and hope that no one will notice.

At least we know one thing now. At our present historical moment, contrary to Beinart, Jacob Heilbrunn of The National Interest, and others, we are now all neocons.

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