The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, September 14, 2012

First, Do No Harm

Mobs of young, liberal, often college educated people protest in the streets against a dictator who is known for repression, but is a friend of the United States. The U.S. President naively supports the protesters in the hopes of nurturing a "democracy" in a place that has long had dictatorial rule. Sitting quietly in the wings, well-organized Islamists wait their chance, but express no interest in politics to the Western media. The U.S. President decides to support the overthrow of the dictator, and when he is deposed, supports the leader who replaces him. The President's supporters and the fawning media tell the American public that the new leader is a decent man, a "moderate," even. Within a year or two, the new leader insults the United States, becomes increasingly hostile (allowing attacks on our embassy), conducts purges to remove pro-American elements, and installs an Islamist government.

Here's the question: am I talking about the egregious foreign policy failures that occurred in the late 1970s under President Jimmy Carter with respect to Iran, or am I talking about the equally egregious foreign policy failures over the past three years presided over by President Barack Obama with respect to Egypt. The answer, of course, is both.

There is an eerie similarity between Iran in the late-1970s and Egypt today. In fairness to Jimmy Carter, he had no history to turn to for guidance. Barack Obama did, but chose to ignore the lessons drawn from Carter's mistakes, and as a consequence, is repeating those same mistakes with the same disastrous results. And people keep telling me that he's such a smart, deliberative guy.

Recall that it was Obama whose hubris allowed him to believe that his now infamous Cairo speech in 2009, would "reset" our relationship with Islam in general and the Arab world in particular. It seems that our current President believes that words have the power to solve geopolitical problems, and that actions, well, those are for war mongers and other fools.

This week, the poisonous fruit of the Arab spring has been harvested. Anti-American riots, murders, and destruction throughout the Arab world (e.g., Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, Somalia) seem to belie Obama's promise that under his administration the Arab world will no longer hate us. His soft-power, lead-from-behind approach to the Middle East region has resulted in growing chaos that serves to undermine American interests in the region, isolate and antagonize our allies, and project a weakness that allows rouge regimes to act with impunity.

The Hippocratic oath has one corollary that should be equally applied by Politicians. First, do no harm.

Barack Obama's feckless foreign policy has violated that corollary through a combination of naivete, hubris, and outright incompetence. Obama's actions have been one of the catalysts that have transformed an already unstable region into a hotbed of Islamist chaos.

Update: (9/14/12):

Sometimes the most honest critique of the U.S. policy can be found in foreign media, simply because they are unencumbered by the fawning advocacy that pervades much of the U.S. media where President Obama is concerned. The major German media outlet, Der Spiegel ran an article this morning with the headline,'Obama's Middle East Policy Is in Ruins.'

That's the conversation that our MSM should be having as events continue to unfold in the Middle East.

Update 2: (9/14/12):

Richard Fernandez presents his take on the foreign policy debacle we are witnessing. His entire piece is worth reading:
But it is worse than 1979 [the Carter/Iran debacle]; the current alliance [Obama/??] puts America in the back of the bus as expressed in the tagline “leading from behind.” In that slogan is described a self-imposed inferiority, a chronic submission to political enterprises that would, if closely inspected, be dubious to say the least ...

What could go wrong? If things look perverse it is because they are perverse. Like a car with square wheels, a submarine with a screen door or a rifle with barrel curved backward toward the stock, it just doesn’t look like it’s not going to work. It’s not going to work. And now confirmation of the fact has arrived by the light of burning embassies which throw their fitful glare on the bloody hand prints of those dragged to their deaths. It is snapshot of incompetence in pursuit of an imbecility.

And it cannot be undone by a successor administration any more than Reagan could undo the damage caused by Jimmy Carter. The damage is too great for a quick fix. The West will have to live with instability and hostility in a region upon which much of the world depends for energy for some time to come. No solar panels, algae, no number carbon trading certificates — no fiction peddled by those whose stock in trade is fantasy — can paper over that sad fact. The bill for folly has arrived and it will be generations paying it.

All that can be done now is to stop digging the hole any deeper.

Update 3: (9/16/12)

And this from Victor Davis Hansen:
One of the ways of understanding the strange nonchalant response [e.g., Susan Rice's incredible claim on Meet the Press that the violence in Libya and Egypt were not directed at the Obama administration or the USA] of the administration to prior warnings of trouble in the Arab Spring countries, and its contextualization of the violence on the anniversary of 9/11, is its belief that it is somehow separated from the object of the violence. Raging crowds and Islamic wrath could not possibly be connected to the enlightened Obama administration or, more generally to a U.S. that has been “reset” on his watch — given the three years of laborious Muslim outreach and the long-ago departure of George Bush. So we are to think away all those burning flags, stormed consulates, and dead Americans, and instead remember that the violence “is a response,” a sort of cry of the heart against a couple of America-residing video makers — and has nothing much to do with any anger at well-meaning Americans per se.

Apparently no one in charge seems to grasp that this latest video pretext is simply yet another tool, in a long line of many, for premodern Islamists to manipulate and galvanize their fury against the United States, whose success and power obsess them no end — no matter what we do or who happens to be in the White House, soaring Cairo speech and “leading from behind” or not.