by Jim Campbell
Events in the Middle East are moving too fast for the Obama administration to think it can get away with Plan A and Plan B reaction strategies according to the regimes or leaders it wants to keep in and out of power. So says Paul McGeogh in tomorrow’s issue of the Sidney Morning Herald.
The administration’s actions in dealing with Iran have been a disaster, now with Egypt and Tunisia citizens clamoring for democracy, Washington once again appears to be propping up tyrants.
Consider the response of the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, to Hezbollah, a designated terrorist organization by the US State Department, tightening its grip on power in Lebanon this week. Washington might have to pull its funding worth hundreds of millions for Lebanon, her office warned.
But as democracy demonstrators were confronted by thousands of baton-wielding policemen in the streets in Cairo.(see video on left column) Was there any mention of pulling the US $2 billion-plus check that Washington writes for President, Hosni Mubarak, each year? Not a wisper.
Instead, a rhetorical nugget that Mubarak’s mouthpieces would use in their defense; ”our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable” and then some wimpy words about how Mubarak was ”looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.”
This is typical Washington double-speak and means nothing. The actual “assessment” that must be made by the current administration is why they and others that will follow continue to pour US tax dollars in to the Middle East in any fashion as peace there his been and will continually by allusive. .
Undaunted, Clinton tried again on Wednesday, when she called on the Egyptian authorities to cease blocking the communications on which the demonstrators relied. Wow, leadership at it’s finest!
But on Thursday the Twitter and Facebook websites were inaccessible and mobile-phone users in Cairo said that it was difficult or impossible to sent text messages.
Clinton uttered the ”stability” line early in the week, before the seriousness of what is unfolding in the streets of Cairo and Alexandria came in to focus. Consider how ordinary Egyptians might interpret this.
Considering Reuters has just reported that thousands of Egyptians have been arrested and injured in the first four days
The human rights of 80 million people have been trampled for 30 years but what the US Secretary of State is most concerned about is the stability of the state? US diplomacy at it’s worst.
Even as the focus sharpened, the administration refused to tell the truth about the despot upon whom Washington relies. ”Egypt is a strong ally,” the White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, replied when asked if the administration still supported Mubarak.
In a week in which the Middle East’s historic self-started wave of democracy protests came to a head, Barack Obama might have used his State of the Union address to cheer along all the protesters; and perhaps to warn all the leaders, country by country, of the fate that awaits them.
Instead he confined his specific remarks to Tunisia, saying: ”The United States of America stands with the people of Tunisia and supports the democratic aspirations of all people.” So, in a region of 333 million people, where to varying degrees a good 325 million are under the heel of unelected leaders, the US President addressed only little Tunisia.
The lame excuse offered to reporters was that Cairo erupted late in the drafting process of the speech but that last ”aspirations of all people” phrase was a recognition that ”what happens in Tunisia resonates around the world.”
In light of the Obama administration’s failure to show support for Iranian dissidents protests over the corrupt Iranian elections held on June 12,2009, President Obama showed one again he does not have what it takes to be Commander-in-Chief of the United States of America.
Lost in the lunge to protect US strategic and commercial interests by propping up the region’s dictator class is any realization that that support is what leaves the youth of the region under-educated and under-employed and, thereby, ripe for the picking by Islamist and other underground movements.
It’s now time the U.S. seriously reconsider its goals and objectives in this part of the world and how best to achieve them. Bestowing taxpayer money in the attempt to buy the good will of dictators, despots and tyrants hasn’t worked that that well in the past has it? Is there any reason to suspect things will turn out differently in the future?
Let the reader not forget Albert Einstein’s famous quote, ” Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and over again and expecting a different result.” Then again, do intelligent individuals ever consider politicians sane?
Two things seem certain, there will be no peace in the Arab world with Israel, and the current administration is completely overmatched in any attempt to deal with the issue.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it, I’m J.C.