Thursday, June 19, 2014

Being all things to all people

Barack Obama is not a mystery, he is out there, trying to be liked by everyone.  Perhaps this is the legacy of being a black boy brougnt up in a white world, a Kenyan-Indonesian who became a Hawaiian-Chicagoan American.   In any event he wants to be liked, if possible, even by his enemies. Is this a Christian propensity or a liberal inclination?  His Cairo speech of 2009 is an example of trying to be a different President of the USA, of trying to tell the Muslim world don't hate us (or me), we are really nice people and mean no harm.
But, this kind of attitude, while well-meaning and perhaps commendable, is also dangerous. For example, when the President of the most powerful country in the world declares a red-line, and then retreats from it, not only does he lose credibility, but the County he represents loses deterrence.  OK, so he backed away from attacking Syria for massacring 300 civilians with poison gas.  But, what he also did was allow Russian Pres. Putin to take over the problem and to solve it for him. 
Then he failed to foresee the nuances of Egyptian politics.  Not only did he fail to support the pro-American ruler of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, but he hung him out to dry, like his predecessor Pres. Carter did with the Shah of Iran.  Was it liberal distaste for dictators, even friendly ones.  In that case the result was the most disastrous mistake in US foreign policy, that Iran fell under the control of the Shi'ite extremists that led to the taking of the US Embassy and its American hostages.  Then Pres. Obama in the name of supposed democracy supported the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Pres. Morsi, over the military ruler Gen al-Sisi, who is now President (also supposedly by a democratic election) and he will not forget this insult and major error in judgement.  What are Obama's advisors, naieve college kids, don't they know that in the real world hard-ball is the only game in town?
Now Obama is on the horns of a dilemma, so to speak, caught in the unfortunate position of his own making of having contradictory policies at the same time.  On the one hand, he commendably supports the Sunni insurrection in Syria and the removal of Pres. Assad, who is a ruthless dictator (but who recently won a supposed democratic election), but on the other hand he supports the Shia-dominated Maliki Governemtn of Iraq against the Sunni rebels of ISIS, the worst nighmare of al Qaeda fearing Americans. To regard this government as "democratic" is insane, it was elected because the Shia majority in Iraq voted for it, a sectarian victory that the Sunni will never accept.  But, in real life you can't have it both ways, your cannot support Sunni rebels against a Shia puppet and a Shia puppet against Sunni terrorists.  It makes no sense, it is self-destructive, it loses friends on both sides and it makes the US more of a target as part of the struggle.  Also, consider that aligning America with the Shia-led Government of Iraq will alienate a large proportion of the Sunni Arab world, who constitute 85% of all Muslims. 
It's time someone took Obama aside and told him some truths: democracy means nothing in the Middle East, it is an abstract concept, when tribe, religion and sect mean everything; the enemy of my enemy in the ME is still my enemy; getting involved in other people's vicious wars is not a way to win friends and influence people; when in doubt do nothing.  When two enemies are fighting each other, sit back and wait and see what will be the denouement.  Only then attack the winner.


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