The events of the past week are thoroughly deserving of the catch phrase from my March 23, 2010 post (‘It’s the Process, Stupid’) – “strap on your crash helmet, you’re going to need it.” The antecedent was, loyal readers may recall, “If this rookie ideologue [BHO] gets elected…”
Mr. Obama Goes to Cairo
Who remembers the historic “New Beginning” speech BHO gave in Cairo on June 4, 2009? You can follow the link for the official White House transcript – or just take in this quick summary: “I, Barack Hussein Obama, have come to end a thousand years of Islamic history and usher in a transformative period of unprecedented peace with the West and Israel; because, well, I’m just cool like that.”
In other words – it was the work of a naïve rookie ideologue. In this case the ideologue was a Progressive, and his ideology instructed him he is capable of convincing anyone of anything with eloquent speech. The Progressive ideologue does not believe in history, and therefore cannot learn from it. To the Progressive ideologue, intentions are everything. All BHO had to do was announce his intentions to the Muslim world, and BHO just knew its relationship with the rest of world would be fundamentally transformed.
At the time, BHO’s prime intention in the Middle East was to have direct negotiations with the Islamic regime ruling Iran - to convince them with his brilliant eloquence it would be wise to abandon their ambitions for nuclear weaponry. BHO and the Progressives were convinced George Bush was a benighted fool for refusing to negotiate directly with the Ayatollahs, and their front man Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The “New Beginnings” speech in Cairo was, for BHO, supposed to be the brilliant oratorical event that would cause Iran’s rulers to have a “V-8 moment” and realize BHO was the man to reach across history’s divides and usher in a new era of global peace among nations. The regime in Tehran no doubt heard instead a weak Commander-In-Chief giving them a clear runway not only toward nuclear weaponry, but to hegemony in the region. It’s easy to imagine Ahmadinejad having a belly-laugh and pointing at his TV during this speech.
Immediately thereafter, an historic democratic uprising, known as the Green Movement, erupted inside the Islamic Republic of Iran. All observers agreed the driving force of the Green Movement uprising was classically liberal in spirit, and their aspirations were for democracy over autocracy. Given the entire world already understood the anti-western and theologically autocratic nature of Iran’s ruling regime – getting completely behind the Green Movement (everything short of overt military action) - as a means toward the end of potential regime change should have been an easy call for any US President. You know it sure as hell would have been an easy call for Bush 43.
But not BHO. He was still stuck on Progressive stupid, waiting for the Ayatollahs to accept his invitation to negotiate, apparently thinking if he appeased them they’d like him better than Bush, or something. The Ayatollahs ruthlessly put down the uprising, proceeded forth with their own foreign policy (nuclear arsenal and regional hegemony), and have yet to send that RSVP for negotiations back to BHO. Ayotollahs 1, BHO 0.
And we are left wondering how the world would be different today if regime change in Iran had occurred in late 2009 ….
Is 2011 1979, 1967, or 1973?
The aforementioned events of 2009 inform my analysis of the current goings on in Egypt. Let me cut to the chase – it sure as hell looks to me like an opportunistic play orchestrated out of Tehran.
Egypt is a good American and (more importantly) Israeli ally. Egypt sits in a very strategic position geographically; on Israel’s southern border and astride the Suez Canal, through which much of the western world’s oil supply travels. Egypt is an important stabilizing force in the Arab world – a great counterweight to the de-stabilizing regime in Tehran. Yeah, sure the dictator that has ruled Egypt for the past thirty years is no Jeffersonian democrat – but the last time I checked the entire Arab world in its entire history has never once produced one of those.
If (increasingly now, when) the Mubarak regime falls in Egypt, prognosticating what replaces it is a crap shoot at best. The decision on how to position a US response here is not a direct parallel to Iran 2009. The ruling regime is more friendly than aggressive, and the composition of the protest movement far less certain.
No, I think the more informative parallel is Iran 1979. Shah Reza Pahlavi was, for the sake of this analysis, everything Hosne Mubarak is – imperfect as a ruler; but a friendly, and stabilizing force in the region. People around the world were quick to equate the Iranian student demonstrators in 2009 with a democracy movement. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was one of their leaders, we all now know.
No one – not even, I, LibertyAtStake – can predict with certainty what happens next in Egypt. This is the nature of chaos – a condition which Egypt is surely experiencing right now. But we can trust what history tells us, map this into current reports, and position our bets accordingly.
My bet is anchored in the reports that the most organized entity on the ground in that chaotic crowd is none other than the Muslim Brotherhood. In an interesting twist, the Brotherhood is endorsing none other than Mohamed El Baradei as their man, and El Baradei is demanding Mubarak and the entire regime step down now. I find this circumstantial connection quite interesting given El Baradei’s past as the UN Nuclear Inspector who was Iran’s Sqt. Shultz (“I see nothing.”) Throw in an Iranian proxy – Hezbollah – taking effective control of Lebanon on Israel’s northern border; and here’s what I think we have here: Ayatollahs 2, BHO 0.
And, Israel screwed. This is looking like 1979 on American televisions – but I bet it’s looking a lot more like 1967 or 1973 on Israeli televisions. The only out is if the formidable Egyptian military can stand up a new secular regime acceptable to the Egyptian people and willing to continue the Mubarak regime’s foreign policy. If that is the ultimate outcome, BHO should make a trip to Cairo and give one of his patented bows to the Egyptian general that ends up running the place.
Trump at 100 Days of Actual Foreign Policy
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