As the Middle East Burns, Obama Is Drawn to Water . . . Hazards
How much worse does the violence in Egypt have to get before it fits the definition of a ‘civil war’?
If you’re a Christian institution in Egypt, chances are somebody — most likely a Muslim Brotherhood fan — has set fire or tried to set fire to your workplace by now.
Throw that near–civil war onto the Syrian one (death toll now 106,000 or so) , the increasing sectarian violence in Iraq, Syrian violence spreading into Lebanon (a huge car bomb detonated in Beirut and another one caught, a story that didn’t even make headlines in the U.S.), and Afghanistan remaining Afghanistan, and it increasingly looks like the whole Middle East is on fire.
Credit Obama in one way: He currently accurately represents the view of a majority of the American people, in that they don’t want to think much about the Middle East, either.
Of course, we’re fools if we think just shrugging and murmuring rote denunciations of violence will generate results where we’re respected, feared, or trusted as an ally, as Mark Steyn notes:
Everywhere except Washington people are thinking strategically: General Sisi has made a calculation that he has a small window of opportunity to inflict damage on the Muslim Brotherhood that will set them back decades and that it is in Egypt’s vital interest to do so. Grasping that, the Brothers are pushing back hard.
Out in the wider world, Putin figures there’s a regional power play to be made, and that Moscow can be back in Cairo in a big way for the first time in four decades.
All these parties are pursuing their strategic interest. Does the United States have such a thing anymore? Not so’s you’d notice. As a result, the factions in Egypt are united only in their contempt for Washington. Obama is despised by Sisi and the generals for being fundamentally unserious; by the Brotherhood for stringing along with the coup; by the Copts for standing by as the Brothers take it out on them; and by the small number of genuine democrats in Egypt for his witless promotion of Morsi’s thugs as the dawning of democracy.
Out on the streets, Washington is reviled both for standing by Mubarak too long and for pushing him out too soon (eighty per cent of Egyptians say things are worse than under the old man). And, with the 2011 “Facebook Revolution” all out of “Likes”, the King of Jordan and the Gulf emirs understand the meaning of the ailing, abandoned strongman in his military prison cell in purely geopolitical terms – that (as Bernard Lewis once warned) America is harmless as an enemy but treacherous as a friend.
We can try to ignore explosive violence in far-off lands that were once our allies, but . . . chances are, sooner or later, that will come back to bite us.
Meanwhile . . . ”President Obama hit the links Saturday with comedian Larry David, the star of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, as his weeklong vacation in Martha’s Vineyard comes to a close.”
“Don’t worry, world. I’ve got this.”