What does the deadly violence against U.S. officials in Libya and Egypt say about the Arab Spring? Is Mitt Romney ready to lead in this international atmosphere? Is our current president?
SHOSHANA BRYEN The violence in Egypt and Libya — now spreading to Morocco and Kuwait — is an indication that the U.S. is unable to buy leverage. We bombed Qaddafi and undermined Mubarak on behalf of the revolution, but it has not engendered warm feelings toward us — or our president — in their successors. (In Morocco, they’re carrying signs that say “Death to Obama.”) Revolutionary movements either have, or are co-opted by people who have, well-developed ideologies and agendas. The Muslim Brotherhood was forged over the course of decades spent in Egyptian jails. Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, the Haqqani network, Hamas, and Hezbollah know what they want to achieve, and it has nothing to do with representative democracy. They can’t be bought by a few months, or even years, of American largesse or by America’s dumping of Israel. This should be a warning about what we think we can accomplish by arming the “Syrian rebels.”
President Obama wanted our troubles in the region to be the fault of President Bush, but it wasn’t true. The problems in the Middle East are the result of festering tribal, religious, and ethnic hatreds fueled by oil money, a reasonably educated public, and better communications.
America’s problem is that it fails to understand that the enemy of my enemy is not my friend. He is only closer to me than my enemy, and only for now.
— Shoshana Bryen is senior director of the Jewish Policy Center.
DOUGLAS J. FEITH & SETH CROPSEY The murderous anti-American violence in Libya and Egypt highlights a grim dilemma. Even U.S. officials who believe that promoting democracy and human rights serves U.S. interests need to acknowledge that popular revolutions against unattractive authoritarians can make matters worse. In other words, sometimes our policy choices are between bad and worse. Hatred of tyranny does not, alas, equate to love of liberty. One doesn’t have to feel nostalgia for Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship to recognize that the new Islamist government in Egypt seems intent on doing far more harm to human rights and U.S. interests than Mubarak ever did.
The challenge for U.S. officials is to maximize the chances that we can influence events for the good. By cutting pro-democracy funding in the pre-upheaval period and generally shunning a leadership role, the Obama administration has not met this challenge. This has been true in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iran, and elsewhere.
President Obama is more interested in renouncing American assertiveness and establishing the paramountcy of the United Nations Security Council than he is in advancing the particular interests of the United States.
— Douglas J. Feith and Seth Cropsey are senior fellows at the Hudson Institute.
CAROLINE GLICK It is extremely telling that in the aftermath of the 9/11 assaults on the U.S. embassy in Cairo, U.S.-supported Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi has refused to condemn the attack. He has called on the U.S. to prosecute the filmmaker who produced the film that Muslims find insulting. In this vein it is important to note that the film was screened on an Egyptian Salafist television station. Moreover, the assault on the U.S. embassy was led by Mohamed Zawahiri, al-Qaeda chief Ayman Zawahiri’s brother. Mohamed Zawahiri was released from prison by Morsi.
As for Libya, it is clear that the forces who assaulted the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and murdered the U.S. ambassador and three other foreign-service officers were professional fighters. They were armed with RPG-7s. They were in possession of intelligence information regarding — at a minimum — the whereabouts of the U.S. ambassador.
When the U.S. began its sponsorship of the Libyan rebels against the already neutered Moammar Qaddafi, it was already known that elements of al-Qaeda were participating in the rebellion. And when Qaddafi fell, one of the first things the victorious rebels did was raise an al-Qaeda flag over a courthouse in Benghazi.
All of this is simply to say that the true face of the misnamed Arab Spring, so enthusiastically supported by Obama, is finally undeniable. The Obama administration has played a central role in overthrowing U.S.-aligned regimes and replacing them with regimes that are hostile to the U.S. and its strategic interests.
I find it noteworthy that the Washington Post was swift to condemn Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney for referring to the administration’s apology to the mob attacking the U.S. embassy as “disgraceful.” It was disgraceful. And it is even more disgraceful that the Washington Post would seek to squelch debate about the nature of Obama’s foreign policy and its contribution to the assaults on the U.S. embassies on September 11.