The PJ Tatler

Those Are Obama's Principles

Over at The National Interest, Robert Merry doesn’t seem to be too happy with Egypt’s new military government — but he’s even less pleased with America’s civilian ruler:

What’s clear, though, is that Obama has brought to the matter of Egypt’s internal struggle a lack of intellectual rigor, and this has undermined any consistency in his thinking. If Mubarak had to go because he had been entrenched for too long and was standing in the way of an Egyptian path toward democracy, then Morsi should probably have stayed because he had not been in office through his duly designated electoral term and his forced departure likely will wreck Egypt’s prospects for keeping on a democratic path.

But that’s for the Egyptians to decide. What’s the lesson for America? It is that we should stay out of the internal politics of other nations because our involvement inevitably tosses us into inconsistent and even hypocritical postures and makes us look like a sanctimonious nation. Further, such meddling always has unintended consequences. Why did Obama have to get involved in Mubarak’s fate in the first place? What standing did he have to lecture the head of a foreign state—and an ally, at that—on when his time had passed? And what standing did he have to suggest, as he subtly did, what Morsi needed to do to legitimize his rule?

Lord Palmerton famously observed that “Britain has no permanent friends and no permanent enemies; she has permanent interests.” That’s exactly right. For example, Britain could easily be swamped by a Europe united by a single dictator. That’s why they joined various coalitions to defeat Napoleonic France, joined France (twice) to defeat Germany, and joined Germany (well, two-thirds of Germany) to resist Russia. Friends changed, interests did not.

It’s become clear however that President Obama has no permanent friends or permanent interests — unless you count “trying to make Obama look good” as a vital national interest.

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