Obama's Contradictions on the 'Will of the People'

In his appeasement speech to the Muslim world titled “A New Beginning,” delivered on June 4, 2009, at the University of Cairo, President Barack Obama declared:

I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: No system of government can or should be imposed by one nation by any other. … That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election.

President Obama failed to talk truth to power at his Cairo speech, ignoring the fact that virtually all of the Arab/Muslim states are governed by military dictators or unelected hereditary-imposed sheikhs who do not reflect the will of their people. Ironically, where the will of the people has been exercised -- Israel -- Obama and his administration have not respected the results. They have sought to reject the will of the Israeli people who elected a center-right Likud government, whose mandate was to expand settlements in the West Bank rather than comply with the Obama administration by abandoning the Jewish settlements to Mahmoud Abbas and his unelected regime.

The support by President Obama of the will of the people in Egypt, which resulted in the deposing of President Mubarak after a 29-year rule, is most significant for Israel. What appears evident is that Israel’s peace treaties with both Egypt and Jordan are not treaties between two nations. Rather, each is a peace treaty between the Israeli people/nation and the Egyptian and Jordanian ruling elites only. Once these elites are overthrown, the will of the people -- determined largely by Islamist indoctrination -- is to void the peace treaty with Israel.

Mubarak did little to educate his nation of 84 million people with regard to Israel being a legitimate nation which as part of the peace treaty sent experts to Egypt to help them develop agriculture, medicine, etc. Contrary to the peace agreement, the Egyptian press -- largely government controlled -- allowed the dissemination of anti-Semitic TV programs, songs, and publications, in addition to near daily inflammatory articles that fostered hatred for Israel and Jews. And yet, the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, signed in 1979 at the White House, brought 32 years of quiet along the Egyptian-Israeli frontier, albeit not a people-to-people peace. And while hundreds of thousands of Israelis flocked to Egypt, only several hundred Egyptians visited Israel, and those who did were shunned by their colleagues and communities.

Left to the “people’s will,” Egypt would have to impose Sharia law, since 64% of the people demand it, and an even larger percentage wishes to abrogate the peace with Israel. The “people’s will,” which will most likely be championed by the Muslim Brotherhood, will be characterized by a deep hatred of America and the rejection of equal rights for women and religious minorities.

“Progressives” in the Obama administration were prepared to talk to Hamas, designated by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization. Progressives in Israel, Europe, and in the Obama administration have argued that the will of the people must be respected, despite its jihadist agenda that includes the destruction of Israel. But the same voices, while threatening Israel with boycotts because of its Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem, rarely invoke the idea of sanctions and boycotts against the Hamas terrorists.

The will of the people is hardly a prescription for freedom and democracy, especially given that most of the “people” in the Arab-Muslim world are largely uneducated and their worldview has been manipulated by the leadership of their local mosque and “informed” by Al Jazeera. In any democracy, including an Arab democracy, there must be basic rights that are guaranteed by law, including human and civil rights, religious freedom, freedom of assembly, and freedom of the press.

In the absence of such freedoms it is virtually impossible to gauge what the people really want. How are we to know what the people want if they do not go to the polls or are too intimidated to honestly answer a pollster? With all due respect to the demonstrators in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, who may have shouted the right slogans about freedom and democracy and used sophisticated social media such as Facebook and Twitter, they do not necessarily reflect the will of tens of millions of Egyptians who did not participate in the demonstrations.

The truth of the matter is that Obama’s Cairo speech and his inference that “governments should reflect the will of the people” was merely an attempt to ingratiate himself with the Arab and Muslim masses in the Third World. Obama, like most Western educated thinkers, wants the same things he experienced in the free world for the Arab-Muslim world: freedom of speech, the rule of law, disarming of political militias, tolerance and rights for religious and ethnic minorities, and resolution of conflicts by peaceful means.

Obama’s quick endorsement of the Egyptian demonstrators in the name of the “will of the people” and his expressed support for the Muslim Brotherhood’s participation in the future government of Egypt contradict the very prerequisites of a free and democratic society. An Egypt led or influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood will not attain the kind of democracy and freedom wished for by ordinary people in the free world. More often that not, in the Arab Middle East the takeover of power through “democratic” means does not reflect the ultimate will of the people.