Friday, February 11, 2011

Obama Doctrine?

Simon Tisdall in the Guardian is normally one of the more sane and thoughtful commentators on contemporary international politics, so his giddiness over the Obama's comments following Mubarak's backflip on resigning last night, Thursday; rather than this Friday morning warrants some attention.  Certainly in forcefully and openly siding with the protesters, the Obama did finally plant himself on the side of the angels.  Whether in doing so, he elucidated a clear doctrine that places the U.S. on the side of the forces of democracy everywhere remains to be seen.  I would  like to think Tisdall is right--and the Obama continued in his new voice after Mubarak resigned--but we'll see what happens when Jordon and Saudi Arabia start to wobble in weeks to come.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Backing the Wrong Pony

At this point, it is clear that Obama'a chief goal is to divide zero.  The latest proof of this desire comes from his response to the people's uprising in Egypt.  Reuters reports today that the Obamans were caught "off guard" by the force and ferver of the protests.  No doubt they were, but the decision to attempt to shield Mubarak by encouraging him to undertake democratic reforms and the people to play along with him shows a deeper level of incomprehension than that brought on by surprise at a spontaneous revolt.  The Obamans response reflects the typical American habit of backing friendly--that is, bought--dictators rather than the people or even  the nation.  The Obama's embrace of that wrongheaded American habit is made worse because it bespeaks rejection of his own calls for democracy to replace autocracy.    In this case, as in others, the Obamans want to reassure the autocratic rulers of oil rich nations that America always stands by its boys--Karen DeYoung puts it more politely in today's Washington Post. The problem for the Obamans is that when you back the wrong pony, you lose the race.  Mubarak is not Egypt, and it is Egypt and the Egyptian people the Obamans should be doing everything they can to help.  The message they should give despots everywhere is that the United States supports the legitimate desire of people for democracy.

Instead, Obama dispatched an envoy to deliver the word to Mubarak that he should not run for re-election in the fall--eight or nine months from now-- David Kirkpatrick reports  in today's New York Times.   Maybe that has a hidden diplomatic meeting, but on its face, it is laughable--not to mention completely bonkers.  Can anyone who is not delusional seriously think that Mubarak is going to last beyond the end of the week?  And after Mubarak? All those billions in foreign aid will be paying some posh estates for exiled potentates while the U.S. Congress holds hearings on who is responsible for losing the Middle East and all of its oil to people who don't like us and don't want us around no matter how much we are prepared to spend on attempting to acquire influence with them;.