Saturday, August 31, 2013

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The American Dream Is Not Dead. By Rush Limbaugh.

The American Dream is Not Dead. By Rush Limbaugh., August 29, 2013.

Minimum Wage: How Much is Too Much? By Rush Limbaugh., August 29, 2013.

What Camus Understood About the Middle East. By Paul Berman.

What Camus Understood About the Middle East. By Paul Berman. The New Republic, August 12, 2013.

The Colonist of Good Will: On Albert Camus. By Thomas Meaney. The Nation, August 27, 2013.

The Israeli Spring. By Victor Davis Hanson.

The Israeli Spring. By Victor Davis Hanson. National Review Online, August 29, 2013.

The unlikely winner of the Arab revolutions happens to be Israel. By Dominique Moisi. The Daily Star (Lebanon), August 26, 2013.


Israel could be forgiven for having a siege mentality — given that at any moment, old frontline enemies Syria and Egypt might spill their violence over common borders.
The Arab Spring has thrown Israel’s once-predictable adversaries into the chaotic state of a Sudan or Somalia. The old understandings between Jerusalem and the Assad and Mubarak kleptocracies seem in limbo.
Yet these tragic Arab revolutions swirling around Israel are paradoxically aiding it, both strategically and politically — well beyond just the erosion of conventional Arab military strength.
In terms of realpolitik, anti-Israeli authoritarians are fighting to the death against anti-Israeli insurgents and terrorists. Each is doing more damage to the other than Israel ever could — and in an unprecedented, grotesque fashion. Who now is gassing Arab innocents? Shooting Arab civilians in the streets? Rounding up and executing Arab civilians? Blowing up Arab houses? Answer: either Arab dictators or radical Islamists.
The old nexus of radical Islamic terror of the last three decades is unraveling. With a wink and a nod, Arab dictatorships routinely subsidized Islamic terrorists to divert popular anger away from their own failures to the West or Israel. In the deal, terrorists got money and sanctuary. The Arab Street blamed others for their own government-inflicted miseries. And thieving authoritarians posed as Islam’s popular champions.
But now, terrorists have turned on their dictator sponsors. And even the most ardent Middle East conspiracy theorists are having troubling blaming the United States and Israel.
Secretary of State John Kerry is still beating last century’s dead horse of a “comprehensive Middle East peace.” But does Kerry’s calcified diplomacy really assume that a peace agreement involving Israel would stop the ethnic cleansing of Egypt’s Coptic Christians? Does Israel have anything to do with Assad’s alleged gassing of his own people?
There are other losers as well. Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan wanted to turn a once-secular Turkish democracy into a neo-Ottoman Islamist sultanate, with grand dreams of eastern-Mediterranean hegemony. His selling point to former Ottoman Arab subjects was often a virulent anti-Semitism. Suddenly, Turkey became one of Israel’s worst enemies and the Obama administration’s best friends.
Yet if Erdogan has charmed President Obama, he has alienated almost everyone in the Middle East. Islamists such as former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi felt that Erdogan was a fickle and opportunistic conniver. The Gulf monarchies believed that he was a troublemaker who wanted to supplant their influence. Neither the Europeans nor the Russians trust him. The result is that Erdogan’s loud anti-Israeli foreign policy is increasingly irrelevant.
The oil-rich sheikhdoms of the Persian Gulf once funded terrorists on the West Bank, but they are now fueling the secular military in Egypt. In Syria they are searching to find some third alternative to Assad’s Alawite regime and its al-Qaeda enemies. For the moment, oddly, the Middle East foreign policy of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the other oil monarchies dovetails with Israel’s: Predictable Sunni-Arab nationalism is preferable to one-vote, one-time Islamist radicals.
Israel no doubt prefers that the Arab world liberalize and embrace constitutional government. Yet the current bloodletting lends credence to Israel’s ancient complaints that it never had a constitutional or lawful partner in peace negotiations.
In Egypt, Hosni Mubarak’s corrupt dictatorship is gone. His radical Muslim Brotherhood successors were worse and are also gone. The military dictatorship that followed both is no more legitimate than either. In these cycles of revolution, the one common denominator is an absence of constitutional government.
In Syria, there never was a moderate middle. Take your pick between the murderous Shiite-backed Assad dictatorship or radical Sunni Islamists. In Libya, the choice degenerated to Moammar Qaddafi’s unhinged dictatorship or the tribal militias that overthrew it. Let us hope that one day westernized moderate democracy might prevail. But that moment seems a long way off.
What do the Egyptian military, the French in Mali, Americans at home, the Russians, the Gulf monarchies, persecuted Middle Eastern Christians, and the reformers of the Arab Spring all have in common? Like Israel, they are all fighting Islamic-inspired fanaticism. And most of them, like Israel, are opposed to the idea of a nuclear Iran.
In comparison with the ruined economies of the Arab Spring — tourism shattered, exports nonexistent, and billions of dollars in infrastructure lost through unending violence — Israel is an atoll of prosperity and stability. Factor in its recent huge gas and oil finds in the eastern Mediterranean, and it may soon become another Kuwait or Qatar, but with a real economy beyond its booming petroleum exports.
Israel had nothing to do with either the Arab Spring or its failure. The irony is that surviving embarrassed Arab regimes now share the same concerns with the Israelis. In short, the more violent and chaotic the Middle East becomes, the more secure and exceptional Israel appears.


The war in Iraq – which led in 2003 to the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime – had one clear winner: Iran. The United States-led military intervention resulted in the weakening of the Middle East’s Sunni regimes, America’s traditional allies, and the strengthening of America’s principal foe in the region, the Islamic Republic. Ten years later, we may be witnessing yet another ironic outcome in the region: At least for the time being, Israel seems to be the only clear winner of the “Arab Spring” revolutions.
Most Israelis would strongly object to this interpretation. Their regional environment has become much more unstable and unpredictable. Only recently, Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system intercepted a rocket fired from Sinai that was aimed at the port of Eilat, while Thursday, several rockets were fired on northern Israel from Lebanon.
In contrast to the past, no Israeli border is now secure, especially the long frontier with Egypt. No implicit alliance can be taken for granted. All scenarios are open. Can Israel remain an oasis of stability, security, modernity, and economic growth in such a volatile environment?
The answer, of course, is no. Israel may be tempted to regard itself as some kind of latter-day Noah’s ark, but it is not. Tel Aviv has become a cross between San Francisco, Singapore, and Sao Paulo, but it is still less than 300 kilometers from Damascus. For the pessimists (or realists, depending on your perspective), Israel must remain on maximum alert to minimize the risks that it faces.
Above all, many Israelis (if not most) believe that this is no time to be imaginative and daring. The resumption of the peace process with the Palestinian Authority can be only a fig leaf. Israel simply cannot ignore the Americans in the way that the Egyptian army has as it has massacred its Islamist opponents.
But a very different reading of the current situation is possible. What started as a revolution, in the 18th-century meaning of the term, is becoming a reproduction of the religious wars that ravaged Europe from 1524 to 1648, pitting Catholics and Protestants against each other in the same way that Sunnis and Shiites are pitted against each other today. (In Egypt, however, we are seeing simply the return of a military police state.)
One may disagree with this Euro-centric interpretation, but what is clear is that the Muslim Middle East will be too preoccupied with internecine struggle to worry about the Palestinians or the existence of Israel. War with Jews or Christians has necessarily taken a back seat (except where, as in Egypt and Syria, Christian minorities are perceived to be allied with the regime).
In some cases, there is explicit cooperation with Israel. Because it is fighting for its own survival in a highly challenging environment, the Jordanian regime needs Israel’s security collaboration. Indeed, Israeli and Jordanian forces are now working together to secure their respective borders against infiltration by jihadists from Iraq or Syria, while Egypt and Israel now share the same objective in Sinai.
So the paradox of the Arab revolutions is that they have contributed to Israel’s integration as a strategic partner (for some countries) in the region. At this point, more Arab lives have been lost in Syria’s civil war than in all of the Arab-Israeli wars combined.
Of course, one should not draw the wrong conclusions from this. Israel may have become, more than ever, a key strategic partner for some Arab regimes, or a de facto ally against Iran (as it is for Saudi Arabia). But that does not imply that Israel’s neighbors have resigned themselves, in emotional terms, to its continued existence in their midst.
Nor does it mean that Israel can do whatever it wants, whenever and wherever it wants. On the contrary, the Israeli government should not use the region’s turmoil as justification for doing nothing to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians. Current conditions, though admittedly confusing, can be seen as opening a window of opportunity – a moment to consider making serious sacrifices for the sake of long-term survival.
Israel should be addressing the Arab world in the following terms: “You may not like me, and you may never like me, but I am not – and never should have been – your first concern. Now it is clear that you have other priorities to worry about.”
The Arab quagmire may not be creating conditions for peace and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. But it has turned the “strategic truce” favored by many Arab leaders into the only conceivable alternative. Arabs cannot be at war with themselves and with Israel at the same time.
The chaotic events unfolding in the Middle East will – and should – change the approach and perceptions of the protagonists. Short-term considerations will not suffice. Israeli leaders must adjust their long-term strategic thinking to the new Middle East that ultimately emerges from the current disarray.
That means not exploiting today’s opportunity to build more settlements on Palestinian land, or to expand existing ones, as Benjamin Netanyahu’s government appears determined to do. Israel may well be the current winner in the Arab Spring; but, if it is wise, it will leave the spoils of victory on the ground.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Saudi-Egyptian Connection. By Dick Morris.

The Saudi-Egyptian Connection: The New Version of the Quadruple Alliance of 1815. By Dick Morris., August 28, 2013.

What Is Your Life’s Blueprint? By Martin Luther King, Jr.

What Is Your Life’s Blueprint? By Martin Luther King, Jr. Seattle Times. Originally delivered at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia, October 26, 1967.

The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life. By Martin Luther King, Jr. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute. Originally delivered at New Covenant Baptist Church, Chicago, April 9, 1967.

Dr. King: “Be the Best of Whatever You Are.” By Rush Limbaugh., August 28, 2013.

The Street Sweeper. By Erick Erickson. RedState, August 27, 2013.


I want to ask you a question, and that is: What is your life’s blueprint?
Whenever a building is constructed, you usually have an architect who draws a blueprint, and that blueprint serves as the pattern, as the guide, and a building is not well erected without a good, solid blueprint.
Now each of you is in the process of building the structure of your lives, and the question is whether you have a proper, a solid and a sound blueprint.
I want to suggest some of the things that should begin your life’s blueprint. Number one in your life’s blueprint, should be a deep belief in your own dignity, your worth and your own somebodiness. Don’t allow anybody to make you fell that you’re nobody. Always feel that you count. Always feel that you have worth, and always feel that your life has ultimate significance.
Secondly, in your life's blueprint you must have as the basic principle the determination to achieve excellence in your various fields of endeavor. You’re going to be deciding as the days, as the years unfold what you will do in life — what your life’s work will be. Set out to do it well.
And I say to you, my young friends, doors are opening to you--doors of opportunities that were not open to your mothers and your fathers — and the great challenge facing you is to be ready to face these doors as they open.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great essayist, said in a lecture in 1871, “If a man can write a better book or preach a better sermon or make a better mousetrap than his neighbor, even if he builds his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door.”
This hasn't always been true — but it will become increasingly true, and so I would urge you to study hard, to burn the midnight oil; I would say to you, don't drop out of school. I understand all the sociological reasons, but I urge you that in spite of your economic plight, in spite of the situation that you’re forced to live in — stay in school.
And when you discover what you will be in your life, set out to do it as if God Almighty called you at this particular moment in history to do it. Don’t just set out to do a good job. Set out to do such a good job that the living, the dead or the unborn couldn’t do it any better.
If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well. If you can't be a pine at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley. Be the best little shrub on the side of the hill.
Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.

The Struggle for Middle East Mastery. By Joschka Fischer

The Struggle for Middle East Mastery. By Joschka Fischer. Project Syndicate, August 27, 2013.

Democracy’s Dog Days. By Victor Davis Hanson.

Democracy’s Dog Days. By Victor Davis Hanson. Works and Days. PJ Media, August 26, 2013.


We all want democracy to thrive and flourish, but can it?
The Obama administration was quite pleased that the anti-democratic Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood had come to power through a single plebiscite. That confidence required a great deal of moral blindness, both of the present and past. 

Like other once-elected authoritarians who believe that democracy is similar to a bus route — in the words of Mr. Erdogan of Turkey, once you get to your stop, you get off — Morsi had no intention of fostering the sort of consensual institutions so necessary for republican government. Almost immediately he gave a de facto green light to cleanse the government of his opponents, to Islamicize a once largely secular society, and to persecute religious minorities.
Like a Hitler, Mussolini, Mugabe, or Hugo Chavez, Morsi was counting on the legitimacy from a once-in-a-lifetime largely free election, and then the use of state power, if not terror, to institutionalize his authoritarian rule. Morsi’s legacy is that he was both a beneficiary of the Arab Spring in Egypt and almost singlehandedly ended it.
Unfortunately, there seem to be no signs of democracy’s revival elsewhere in the Arab world or, for that matter, all that many recent vibrant examples in the world at large these days.
In contrast, after the end of the Cold War there was a giddy “end of history” moment. By the new millennium, “democratic” government and free market capitalism were accepted as the natural — indeed, the foreordained — final stage in civilization’s evolution. And why not? The Soviet Union was in shambles. Eastern Europe was democratizing. Latin American democracies were starting to crowd out both communist and right-wing dictatorships. The European Union was ushering in the euro to self-congratulatory proclamations of a new social democratic heaven on Earth. The betting was when, not if, a newly capitalist China democratized. Bill Clinton, under duress, had moved America to the democratic center, and was helping to balance budgets.
Only the Islamic Middle East resisted the supposedly inevitable democratic urge. As the world’s regional holdout, the region was seen as well overdue for its turn at majority rule. Democratization, we Americans argued, might force the Muslim world to emulate those consensual systems with far better records of stable governance and widespread prosperity. With freedom and affluence, the age-old Middle East pathologies — misogyny, religious intolerance, tribalism, fundamentalism, anti-Semitism, and statism — would fade along with terrorist-driven violence. Or so it was thought.
Now, in the second decade of the new millennium, democracy is not just having a rough time, but failing in a way that its harsh critics so often predicted, from Plato to Nietzsche and Spengler.
Often the recent world confused plebiscites with democracy, as if the two were synonymous.
But does anyone think the once-elected Mr. Morsi in Egypt was a true democrat? Are the Iranian elections reflections of a free society? Were the austerity packages imposed on southern Europe part of a constitutional process? Is a Germany or Netherlands encouraged to hold elections about the fate of their participation in the EU? Does a Mr. Erdogan or Mr. Ortega — or did the late Hugo Chavez — operate within transparent and lawful protocols?
Instead, southern Europe is reeling, the result of the proverbial people voting themselves entitlements and perks that the state could not pay for. In the fashion of the fourth century Athenian dêmos, pensioners, the subsidized, and public employees blame almost everyone and everything else for their own self-inflicted miseries.
The European Union avoids national referenda in fear that democratic and open elections would lead the EU to unravel. Instead, the EU in large part is reduced to appealing to German war guilt, to German mercantile self-interest, and to German philanthropy to subsidize much of a failed Mediterranean Europe.
Westernized democratic societies — Europe in particular — are shrinking. The bounty of free market capitalism, the emancipation of women, technological advances, and the non-judgmentalism of egalitarian democracy have all emphasized enjoying the good life rather than the sacrifices of child-raising. The result is a demographic time bomb of a dwindling and aging population.
Here in the United States, we are engaged in a great struggle to save constitutional democracy as we once knew it. President Obama seems intent — by ignoring enforcement of existing statutes, by piling up record debt, by vastly enlarging the size of the federal government, by expanding the money supply, by enabling unprecedented numbers of Americans to enroll in food stamp, disability, unemployment, and various entitlement programs, and by politicizing federal institutions from the Justice Department to the IRS — on creating an “equality of result” society. The aim of making everyone about the same is seen as justifying the illiberal means necessary to achieve them.
“Liberty” is now a word that earns an IRS audit. “Fairness” is proof of one’s patriotism. It is as if the failed and violent French Revolution, not the successful American alternative, is now the inspirational model.
In short, democracy’s culture worldwide is in crisis. It cannot pay its bills. It chafes at constitutional protections of individual rights and expression. It seems to encourage rather than to mitigate racial and class tensions. It offers more entitlements to a growing aging cohort and less opportunity for a shrinking younger population to pay for them. It appears unable to offer non-democratic societies moral and ethical models.
Most cannot decide whether the democracies are plagued with a particularly poor generation of demagogic leaders, or whether we are suffering the inevitable wages of rule by plebiscite that eats away at constitutional law and prefers executive fiat. What Jefferson and Tocqueville thought might save us from the mob-rule of ancient Athens — the independent agrarian and small autonomous businessperson anchoring checks and balances to 51% majority rule and demagogues — is no longer our ideal.
I offer a modest suggestion amidst our current angst. Let us put a moratorium on the use of the word “democracy” altogether in our lectures about the Arab Spring and promoting Western values. Cease using it, given that the word has lost all currency and has regressed to its root Hellenic demagogic meaning of “people power.”
Most people simply do not appreciate the complex constitutional system that democracy’s modern incarnation is supposed to represent, and prefer to equate democracy with what on any given day the majority is said to want — which is almost always a state-mandated equality and a redistribution of wealth — or a way to implement authoritarianism. In the Middle East, an election without a ratified constitution and the rule of law is a prescription for tyranny.
Instead, let us speak of “consensual government” or “constitutional government,” and emphasize “republicanism.” Our goal, to the degree we wish to offer advice abroad to reformers abroad, would be to encourage illiberal states to form “representative” or “constitutional republics,” where the will of the people is expressed through representatives who themselves are subject to constitutional law.
Limited or consensual government should be our sloganeering overseas and at home. The great lesson of the Obama administration is that the abuses of democratic plebiscites abroad are not contrasted, but amplified by the increasingly lawless American model, when it uses the IRS and the Justice Department to go after political opponents, allows senior officials to lie under oath to the Congress, and fails to execute faithfully those laws passed by the legislative branch. If we are to offer America as a model, then there must be some honesty and transparency about the Benghazi, Associated Press, IRS, and NSA scandals.
In the latter 20th century, we got our wish and saw much of the world adopt Western democratic trajectories. It is now our challenge in the early 21st century to ensure that they were not given a bill of goods.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Stacey Dooley Confronts Muslim Extremism in Luton, UK.

British Girl Returns to Her Home Town Which Has Been Invaded by Aggressive Muslims., August 27, 2013. YouTube.

My Hometown Fanatics: Stacey Dooley Investigates Muslim Extremists in Luton. Video. Marios A. Hajisavvas, May 22, 2013. YouTube. Originally shown on BBC Three, February 20, 2012.

My Horrifying Run-in with Korean People! (A Satire – Sort of). By Nick Taxia.

Terror! My Horrifying Run-in with Korean People! (A Satire – Sort of). By Nick Taxia., August 27, 2013.

Miley Cyrus and the State of American Culture.

Mommy, what’s Miley Cyrus doing to that teddy bear? By Todd Starnes., August 26, 2013.

Miley Cyrus is sexual – get over it. By Pepper Schwartz. CNN, August 27, 2013.

An American Satyricon. By Victor Davis Hanson. National Review Online, August 27, 2013.

First-century Rome, 21st-century America. Our elites would be right at home in Petronius’s world of debauchery and bored melodrama.

Miley Cyrus Shocking VMA Performance: Sean Hannity, Fox News. Video. Hollywood Life, August 27, 2013. YouTube.

Dear Miley: Here’s What I Hope You Learned About Adulthood After The VMAs. By Lisa Belkin. The Huffington Post, August 26, 2013.

Miley Syphilis: Billy Ray Screwed Up Letting Miley Get Into Show Business. By Doug Giles., August 27, 2013.

Miley Cyrus to Wreak Havoc in the Holy Land. By Lauren Izso. NJBR, November 12, 2013. With “We Can’t Stop” video and Robin Thicke “Blurred Lines” video.

Miley Cyrus Twerks, Gives Robin Thicke Some Tongue At VMAs. By Phillip Mlynar., August 25, 2013. VideoYouTube. Daily Motion.

Miley Cyrus & Robin Thicke Perform - VMA's by dm_521ac29c8cde5

The Shame of Syria. By Fouad Ajami.

The Shame of Syria. By Fouad Ajami. Hoover Institution, August 23, 2013.

U.S. Attack on Syria Will Achieve Nothing. By Shlomi Eldar. Al-Monitor, August 26, 2013.

Obama’s third war. By Ralph Peters. New York Post, August 26, 2013.

America Hanging in There Better Than Rivals. By Joel Kotkin.

America Hanging in There Better Than Rivals. By Joel Kotkin. New Geography, August 26, 2013. Also at

Resetting U.S. Foreign Policy. By Caroline Glick.

Resetting U.S. Foreign Policy. By Caroline Glick. Real Clear Politics, August 24, 2013. Also at the Jerusalem Post,

Monday, August 26, 2013

Israel’s New Adversary: Global Jihad. By Shlomi Eldar.

Israel’s New Adversary: Global Jihad. By Shlomi Eldar. Al-Monitor, August 23, 2013.


Regardless of what happens in the peace talks with the Palestinians, Israel’s security is not slated to improve. In fact, it is getting more complicated and dangerous by the day. The global jihad network has established “Jihad Land” in the Sinai along Israel’s southern border. With Syria still in a state of chaos, cells of armed Islamic extremists have also set up base along the country’s northern border and seem intent on subjecting towns there to a barrage of rocket fire and terrorist attacks.
Until now, Israel has stood out as an oasis of calm in the Middle East, especially given the bloody turbulence under way throughout the Arab world. Only now is it starting to feel the shrapnel from the civil wars and conflicts raging in neighboring countries. This is a new situation, which requires a completely new assessment and approach. We are no longer talking about a fight against groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, which have established addresses for an Israeli military response and discernible targets against which Israel could wage war. The new terror groups, collectively known as global jihad, are operating along the country’s borders as small autonomous cells without permanent addresses or a supreme leader.
Over the past few years, Israel, Hamas and Hezbollah have set very distinct rules for the game, among them red lines that are not to be crossed. The result is a balance of deterrence between the belligerent forces. The Second Lebanon War and Operations Cast Lead and Pillar of Defense against Gaza were milestones during which the limits of permissible (and impermissible) actions were determined. These events set clear boundaries for terrorist groups, which were quick to realize that traversing those boundaries would result in an Israeli response. The greatest deterrence that Israel has when confronting Hamas and Hezbollah is the threat of destroying the groups’ welfare and communal infrastructures, which moor them to their respective communities. Damage to Hamas’s welfare institutions or to the communal institutions of Hezbollah would hurt them much more than an assault on any military target or notable. The one thing that keeps these groups alive more than anything is their close tie to the local population.

Furthermore, both Hamas and Hezbollah have clear political interests that obligate them to maintain the peace along their borders with Israel. The political honey trap that they have created around themselves constantly forces their leaders to carefully consider their steps before they get entangled in a military encounter with Israel.
These two organizations operate militias, which are organized like an army in every conceivable way. In contrast, global jihad activists move from place to place and from region to region with considerable alacrity. It is not usually known who heads these groups or who gives the order to act, and in most cases, the members of a cell will vanish from the region within moments of having fulfilled their orders. Very little is known about the Salafist organizations operating in the Sinai, Syria and southern Lebanon. These are such small, decentralized groups that even if one were to be obliterated, there would be so many others left to take its place, they would in no way be impeded by an attack.
Three such organizations have taken responsibility for firing on Israel on Aug. 20. The first is the Ansar Beit al-Makdas Brigades, which has emerged over the past few years to become one of the largest cells in the Sinai. Within days, it was joined by two previously unknown organizations in southern Lebanon, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades and the Ziad Jarah Companies, which fired Katyusha rockets at the Galilee. Does anyone know anything about these brigades and companies that bear the names of martyrs? Does anyone know how many militants they have in their ranks? Where they train? Who funds them?
This week Israel received further evidence that it is entering a new era of terrorism against it, this one without borders or addresses. Lebanese Sunni Sheikh Siraj al-Din Zuriqat, considered to be the religious leader of the extreme Salafist groups, wrote on Twitter, “From now on, Hezbollah’s role of defending the Jews will be made difficult to impossible.” This absurd statement was intended to clarify that the Salafists who entered southern Lebanon from Syria are in no way committed to any understandings reached between Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah’s organization and Israel.
Hezbollah has an explicit interest in maintaining the peace in Lebanon and ensuring that the border with Israel does not heat up. Salafist global jihad activists have no such internal political interests or external commitments. If the groups gathering along Israel’s northern border believe Hezbollah is a movement devoted to protecting the Jews, then who knows. We might yet see Nasrallah and the Israel Defense Forces joining forces to fight a common enemy. Given the insane rush of events occurring in the Middle East, even the most delusional absurdity could become a reality in an instant.

Two Authors In Defense of Football.

In Defense of Football. By Max Boot. Wall Street Journal, August 17, 2013.

In defense of football. By Daniel Flynn. New York Post, August 17, 2013.

Plagiarism or coincidence? Writer, Wall Street Journal, square off. By Dylan Byers and Hadas Gold. Politico, August 23, 2013.

Stop Freeloading Off Freelancers. By Daniel J. Flynn. The American Spectator, August 23, 2013.

No, Thanks: Stop Saying “Support the Troops.” By Steven Salaita.

No, thanks: Stop saying “support the troops.” By Steven Salaita. Salon, August 25, 2013.

Foreign Policy by Whisper and Nudge. By Thomas L. Friedman.

Foreign Policy by Whisper and Nudge. By Thomas L. Friedman. New York Times, August 24, 2013.


If you follow the commentary on American foreign policy toward Egypt and the broader Middle East today, several themes stand out: People in the region argue: “Whatever went wrong, the United States is to blame.” Foreign policy experts argue: “Whatever President Obama did, he got it wrong.” And the American public is saying: “We’re totally fed up with that part of the world and can’t wait for the start of the N.F.L. season. How do you like those 49ers?”
There is actually a logic to all three positions.
It starts with the huge difference between cold-war and post-cold-war foreign policy. During the cold war, American foreign policy “was all about how we affect the external behavior of states,” said Michael Mandelbaum, the Johns Hopkins University foreign affairs expert. We were ready to overlook the internal behavior of states, both because we needed them as allies in the cold war and because, with the Russians poised on the other side, any intervention could escalate into a superpower confrontation.
Post-cold-war foreign policy today is largely about “affecting the internal composition and governance of states,” added Mandelbaum, many of which in the Middle East are failing and threaten us more by their collapse into ungoverned regions — not by their strength or ability to project power.
But what we’ve learned in Bosnia, Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Egypt and Syria is that it is very hard to change another country’s internal behavior — especially at a cost and in a time frame that the American public will tolerate — because it requires changing a country’s political culture and getting age-old adversaries to reconcile.
The primary foreign policy tools that served us so well in the cold war, said Mandelbaum, “guns, money, and rhetoric — simply don’t work for these new tasks. It is like trying to open a can with a sponge.”
To help another country change internally requires a mix of refereeing, policing, coaching, incentivizing, arm-twisting and modeling — but even all of that cannot accomplish the task and make a country’s transformation self-sustaining, unless the people themselves want to take charge of the process.
In Iraq, George W. Bush removed Saddam Hussein, who had been governing that country vertically, from the top-down, with an iron fist. Bush tried to create the conditions through which Iraqis could govern themselves horizontally, by having the different communities write their own social contract on how to live together. It worked, albeit imperfectly, as long as U.S. troops were there to referee. But once we left, no coterie of Iraqi leaders emerged to assume ownership of that process in an inclusive manner and thereby make it self-sustaining.
Ditto Libya, where President Obama removed Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s top-down, iron-fisted regime, but he declined to put U.S. troops on the ground to midwife a new social contract. The result: Libya today is no more stable, or self-sustainingly democratic, than Iraq. It just cost us less to fail there. In both cases, we created an opening for change, but the local peoples have not made it sustainable.
Hence the three reactions I cited above. People of the region often blame us, because they either will not or cannot accept their own responsibility for putting things right. Or, if they do, they don’t see a way to forge the necessary societal compromises, because their rival factions take the view either that “I am weak, how can I compromise?” or “I am strong, why should I compromise?”
As for blaming Obama — for leaving Iraq too soon or not going more deeply into Libya or Syria — it grows out of the same problem. Some liberals want to “do something” in places like Libya and Syria; they just don’t want to do what is necessary, which would be a long-term occupation to remake the culture and politics of both places. And conservative hawks who want to intervene just don’t understand how hard it is to remake the culture and politics in such places, where freedom, equality and justice for all are not universal priorities, because some people want to be “free” to be more Islamist or more sectarian.
“With the traditional tools of foreign policy, we can stop some bad things from happening, but we cannot make good things happen,” noted Mandelbaum.
For instance, if it is proved that Syria has used chemical weapons, American officials are rightly considering using cruise missiles to punish Syria. But we have no hope of making Syria united, democratic and inclusive without a much bigger involvement and without the will of a majority of Syrians.
And too often we forget that the people in these countries are not just objects. They are subjects; they have agency. South Africa had a moderate postapartheid experience because of Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk. Japan rebuilt itself as a modern nation in the late 19th century because its leaders recognized their country was lagging behind the West and asked themselves, “What’s wrong with us?” Outsiders can amplify such positive trends, but the local people have to want to own it.
As that reality has sunk in, so has another reality, which the American public intuits: Our rising energy efficiency, renewable energy, hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling are making us much less dependent on the Middle East for oil and gas. The Middle East has gone from an addiction to a distraction.
Imagine that five years ago someone had said to you: “In 2013, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen and Iraq will all be in varying states of political turmoil or outright civil war; what do you think the price of crude will be?” You’d surely have answered, “At least $200 a barrel.”
But it’s half that — for a reason: “We now use 60 percent less energy per unit of G.D.P. than we did in 1973,” explained the energy economist Philip Verleger. “If the trend continues, we will use half the energy per unit of G.D.P. in 2020 that we used in 2012. To make matters better, a large part of the energy used will be renewable. Then there is the increase in oil and gas production.” In 2006, the United States depended on foreign oil for 60 percent of its consumption. Today it’s about 36 percent. True, oil is a global market, so what happens in the Middle East can still impact us and our allies. But the urgency is gone. “The Middle East is China’s problem,” added Verleger.
Obama knows all of this. He just can’t say it. But it does explain why his foreign policy is mostly “nudging” and whispering. It is not very satisfying, not very much fun and won’t make much history, but it’s probably the best we can do or afford right now. And it’s certainly all that most Americans want.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Face It: Democracy Isn’t for Everyone. By George Jonas.

Democracy — Your mileage may vary. By George Jonas. National Post, August 24, 2013.


Egypt is a sufficiently large and complex country to stymie not only friendly foreigners who try to rule it, but its own inhabitants. What seems evident is that ruling it requires the support of the military, and the support of the military cannot be taken for granted by anyone.
Egypt’s regime change this summer, though precipitated by huge popular demonstrations, is, for all intents and purposes, a military coup. Few dispute this, but let me go further and suggest that Egypt experienced two military coups in less than three years, disguised as popular revolts. The first coup toppled the long dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak; the second nipped the attempted dictatorship of Mohammed Morsi in the bud. It appeared both Mubarak and Morsi thought (or hoped) that Egypt’s military under General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi would side with him against Egypt’s rebels, whether Islamic fundamentalist or liberal secularists, but the general ended up siding simply with himself both times. Now he seems all set to hold the reins of power in his own hands until someone capable, and of whom he approves, agrees to hold them on his behalf.
The Egyptian military may be every bit as as loyal to its country as other militaries are to theirs, but it is loyal to its own concept of Egypt, not somebody else’s. They don’t like an ex-military man like Mubarak when he shows signs of trying to start a dynasty in his old age, and like an ex-Muslim Brotherhood activist like Morsi, who uses his electoral victory to build a theocracy in Gen. el-Sisi’s Egypt, even less. The Junker-class of the country may not be democrats, but they seem equally uninterested in becoming armed servants in King Mubarak’s court or soldiers in the pay of some bearded council of ayatollahs, like Muslim equivalents of the Pope’s Swiss Guard. They want to rule themselves, or even better, have someone rule on their behalf.

That’s what everybody thought Mubarak did for many years, as he may have, until he started working for himself. A long-time dictator can easily develop the delusion that he doesn’t work for the generals, the generals work for him. If so, it was a fatal error. It made Mubarak’s illusion of having the military “behind him” actually mean that he had his enemy at his back.
Every culture wages war its own way. In Egypt military coups are demilitarized. They are ostensibly civilian conflicts, instigated and carried out by civilians, at most involving the police. The soldiers don’t leave their barracks until the civilians are at each others’ throats, then show up with the big guns, do the real coup under the guise of restoring peace, and return to barracks with a renewed lease on power as their trophy. In a coup, Egyptian-style, the contestants box in the ring for the championship, and the referee gets to take home the belt.
The events that led to Gen. el-Sisi & Co. taking over Egypt had no single cause, but the Obama-administration kick-started the process with the President’s 2009 speech at Cairo University. “A New Beginning,” the title chosen for Obama’s address, was a performance worthy of the sorcerer’s apprentice and had roughly the same result.  The convolutions of the region haven’t subsided yet. On the whole, it is a good idea not to push buttons without knowing what they might activate, which in some parts of the world may mean not pushing any buttons, at least for a while.
Two years ago I wrote that toppling strongmen in the Middle East may or may not be good news for Western democracies, and may or may not be a good idea for the countries involved. It depends on who replaces the strongmen. Stronger men? Weaker men? Better men? Democrats?
What I didn’t write then, but will write now, is that if it’s democrats, it may not be good news for democracy. Democrats coming to a region before it’s ready for them, can have a deleterious effect on both the region and democracy.
Democracy is a superior system when it functions, but so far it hasn’t functioned consistently except in a handful of Western countries. Like an exotic car, it’s sensitive, and requires expert drivers and well-paved roads. On unimproved back roads a simpler, sturdier design performs more reliably. A stable, benevolent autocracy may offer more mileage and a safer drive than a volatile, sensitive democracy under some circumstances.
In February, 2011, I wrote that the great Western democracies were never above accepting help from tin-pot dictators, only above helping them when they got into trouble. Strongmen were well advised to remain strong, because they couldn’t count on the West even for refuge, let alone rescue. Now with Egypt’s new rulers, we have the choice of sitting on our democratic high horse and say to Gen. el-Sisi: You can’t be our friend unless you let our enemies rule your country. You won’t see a penny, unless you honour the election results.
Or President Obama can say, well, I won’t make any speeches in Cairo for a while. How is that for a new beginning?

That Failed Grand Strategy in the Middle East. By Walter Russell Mead.

That Failed Grand Strategy in the Middle East. By Walter Russell Mead. Wall Street Journal, August 23, 2013. Also here.

WRM in WSJ: Obama’s Failed Grand Strategy. By Walter Russell Mead. Via Meadia, August 24, 2013.

America’s march of folly in the Middle East continues. By Abraham Ben-Zvi. Israel Hayom, August 23, 2013.


In the beginning, the Hebrew Bible tells us, the universe was all “tohu wabohu,” chaos and tumult. This month the Middle East seems to be reverting to that primeval state: Iraq continues to unravel, the Syrian War grinds on with violence spreading to Lebanon and allegations of chemical attacks this week, and Egypt stands on the brink of civil war with the generals crushing the Muslim Brotherhood and street mobs torching churches. Turkey’s prime minister, once widely hailed as President Obama's best friend in the region, blames Egypt's violence on the Jews; pretty much everyone else blames it on the U.S.
The Obama administration had a grand strategy in the Middle East. It was well intentioned, carefully crafted and consistently pursued.
Unfortunately, it failed.
The plan was simple but elegant: The U.S. would work with moderate Islamist groups like Turkey’s AK Party and Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood to make the Middle East more democratic. This would kill three birds with one stone. First, by aligning itself with these parties, the Obama administration would narrow the gap between the “moderate middle” of the Muslim world and the U.S. Second, by showing Muslims that peaceful, moderate parties could achieve beneficial results, it would isolate the terrorists and radicals, further marginalizing them in the Islamic world. Finally, these groups with American support could bring democracy to more Middle Eastern countries, leading to improved economic and social conditions, gradually eradicating the ills and grievances that drove some people to fanatical and terroristic groups.
President Obama (whom I voted for in 2008) and his team hoped that the success of the new grand strategy would demonstrate once and for all that liberal Democrats were capable stewards of American foreign policy. The bad memories of the Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter presidencies would at last be laid to rest; with the public still unhappy with George W. Bush’s foreign policy troubles, Democrats would enjoy a long-term advantage as the party most trusted by voters to steer the country through stormy times.
It is much too early to anticipate history’s verdict on the Obama administration’s foreign policy; the president has 41 months left in his term, and that is more than enough for the picture in the Middle East to change drastically once again. Nevertheless, to get a better outcome, the president will have to change his approach.
With the advantages of hindsight, it appears that the White House made five big miscalculations about the Middle East. It misread the political maturity and capability of the Islamist groups it supported; it misread the political situation in Egypt; it misread the impact of its strategy on relations with America’s two most important regional allies (Israel and Saudi Arabia); it failed to grasp the new dynamics of terrorist movements in the region; and it underestimated the costs of inaction in Syria.
America’s Middle East policy in the past few years depended on the belief that relatively moderate Islamist political movements in the region had the political maturity and administrative capability to run governments wisely and well. That proved to be half-true in the case of Turkey’s AK Party: Until fairly recently Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whatever mistakes he might make, seemed to be governing Turkey in a reasonably effective and reasonably democratic way. But over time, the bloom is off that rose. Mr. Erdogan’s government has arrested journalists, supported dubious prosecutions against political enemies, threatened hostile media outlets and cracked down crudely on protesters. Prominent members of the party leadership look increasingly unhinged, blaming Jews, telekinesis and other mysterious forces for the growing troubles it faces.
Things have reached such a pass that the man President Obama once listed as one of his five best friends among world leaders and praised as “an outstanding partner and an outstanding friend on a wide range of issues” is now being condemned by the U.S. government for “offensive” anti-Semitic charges that Israel was behind the overthrow of Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi.
Compared with Mr. Morsi, however, Mr. Erdogan is a Bismarck of effective governance and smart policy. Mr. Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood were quite simply not ready for prime time; they failed to understand the limits of their mandate, fumbled incompetently with a crumbling economy and governed so ineptly and erratically that tens of millions of Egyptians cheered on the bloody coup that threw them out.
Tinfoil-hat conspiracy theorists and incompetent bumblers make a poor foundation for American grand strategy. We would have done business with the leaders of Turkey and Egypt under almost any circumstances, but to align ourselves with these movements hasn’t turned out to be wise.
The White House, along with much of the rest of the American foreign policy world, made another key error in the Middle East: It fundamentally misread the nature of the political upheaval in Egypt. Just as Thomas Jefferson mistook the French Revolution for a liberal democratic movement like the American Revolution, so Washington thought that what was happening in Egypt was a “transition to democracy.” That was never in the cards.
What happened in Egypt was that the military came to believe that an aging President Hosni Mubarak was attempting to engineer the succession of his son, turning Egypt from a military republic to a dynastic state. The generals fought back; when unrest surged, the military stood back and let Mr. Mubarak fall. The military, incomparably more powerful than either the twittering liberals or the bumbling Brotherhood, has now acted to restore the form of government Egypt has had since the 1950s. Now most of the liberals seem to understand that only the military can protect them from the Islamists, and the Islamists are learning that the military is still in charge. During these events, the Americans and Europeans kept themselves endlessly busy and entertained trying to promote a nonexistent democratic transition.
The next problem is that the Obama administration misread the impact that its chosen strategies would have on relations with Israel and Saudi Arabia—and underestimated just how miserable those two countries can make America’s life in the Middle East if they are sufficiently annoyed.
The break with Israel came early. In those unforgettable early days when President Obama was being hailed by the press as a new Lincoln and Roosevelt, the White House believed that it could force Israel to declare a total settlement freeze to restart negotiations with the Palestinians. The resulting flop was President Obama’s first big public failure in foreign policy. It would not be the last. (For the past couple of years, the administration has been working to repair relations with the Israelis; as one result, the peace talks that could have started in 2009 with better U.S. management are now under way.)
The breach with Saudis came later and this one also seems to have caught the White House by surprise. By aligning itself with Turkey and Mr. Morsi’s Egypt, the White House was undercutting Saudi policy in the region and siding with Qatar’s attempt to seize the diplomatic initiative from its larger neighbor.
Many Americans don’t understand just how much the Saudis dislike the Brotherhood and the Islamists in Turkey. Not all Islamists are in accord; the Saudis have long considered the Muslim Brotherhood a dangerous rival in the world of Sunni Islam. Prime Minister Erdogan’s obvious hunger to revive Turkey’s glorious Ottoman days when the center of Sunni Islam was in Istanbul is a direct threat to Saudi primacy. That Qatar and its Al Jazeera press poodle enthusiastically backed the Turks and the Egyptians with money, diplomacy and publicity only angered the Saudis more. With America backing this axis—while also failing to heed Saudi warnings about Iran and Syria—Riyadh wanted to undercut rather than support American diplomacy. An alliance with the Egyptian military against Mr. Morsi’s weakening government provided an irresistible opportunity to knock Qatar, the Brotherhood, the Turks and the Americans back on their heels.
The fourth problem is that the administration seems to have underestimated the vitality and adaptability of the loose group of terrorist movements and cells. The death of Osama bin Laden was a significant victory, but the effective suppression of the central al Qaeda organization in Afghanistan and Pakistan was anything but a knockout blow. Today a resurgent terrorist movement can point to significant achievements in the Libya-Mali theater, in northern Nigeria, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere. The closure of 20 American diplomatic facilities this month was a major moral victory for the terrorists, demonstrating that they retain the capacity to affect American behavior in a major way. Recruiting is easier, morale is higher, and funding is easier to get for our enemies than President Obama once hoped.
Finally, the administration, rightfully concerned about the costs of intervention in Syria, failed to grasp early enough just how much it would cost to stay out of this ugly situation. As the war has dragged on, the humanitarian toll has grown to obscene proportions (far worse than anything that would have happened in Libya without intervention), communal and sectarian hatreds have become poisonous almost ensuring more bloodletting and ethnic and religious cleansing, and instability has spread from Syria into Iraq, Lebanon and even Turkey. All of these problems grow worse the longer the war goes on—but it is becoming harder and costlier almost day by day to intervene.
But beyond these problems, the failure to intervene early in Syria (when “leading from behind” might well have worked) has handed important victories to both the terrorists and the Russia-Iran axis, and has seriously eroded the Obama administration’s standing with important allies. Russia and Iran backed Bashar al-Assad; the president called for his overthrow—and failed to achieve it. To hardened realists in Middle Eastern capitals, this is conclusive proof that the American president is irredeemably weak. His failure to seize the opportunity for what the Russians and Iranians fear would have been an easy win in Syria cannot be explained by them in any other way.
This is dangerous. Just as Nikita Khrushchev concluded that President Kennedy was weak and incompetent after the Bay of Pigs failure and the botched Vienna summit, and then proceeded to test the American president from Cuba to Berlin, so President Vladimir Putin and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei now believe they are dealing with a dithering and indecisive American leader, and are calibrating their policies accordingly. Khrushchev was wrong about Kennedy, and President Obama’s enemies are also underestimating him, but those underestimates can create dangerous crises before they are corrected.

If American policy in Syria has been a boon to the Russians and Iranians, it has been a godsend to the terrorists. The prolongation of the war has allowed terrorist and radical groups to establish themselves as leaders in the Sunni fight against the Shiite enemy. A reputation badly tarnished by both their atrocities and their defeat in Iraq has been polished and enhanced by what is seen as their courage and idealism in Syria. The financial links between wealthy sources in the Gulf and jihadi fighter groups, largely sundered in the last 10 years, have been rebuilt and strengthened. Thousands of radicals are being trained and indoctrinated, to return later to their home countries with new skills, new ideas and new contacts. This development in Syria looks much more dangerous than the development of the original mujahedeen in Afghanistan; Afghanistan is a remote and (most Middle Easterners believe) a barbarous place. Syria is in the heart of the region and the jihadi spillover threatens to be catastrophic.
One of the interesting elements of the current situation is that while American foreign policy has encountered one setback after another in the region, America’s three most important historical partners—Egypt’s military, Saudi Arabia and Israel—have all done pretty well and each has bested the U.S. when policies diverged.
Alliances play a large role in America’s foreign policy success; tending the Middle Eastern alliances now in disarray may be the Obama administration’s best hope now to regain its footing.
As the Obama administration struggles to regain its footing in this volatile region, it needs to absorb the lessons of the past 4½ years. First, allies matter. Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Egyptian military have been America's most important regional allies both because they share strategic interests and because they are effective actors in a way that groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and smaller states aren’t. If these three forces are working with you, then things often go reasonably well. If one or more of them is trying to undercut you, pain comes. The Obama administration undertook the hard work necessary to rebuild its relationship with Israel; it needs to devote more attention to the concerns of the Egyptian generals and the House of Saud. Such relationships don’t mean abandoning core American values; rather they recognize the limits on American power and seek to add allies where our own unaided efforts cannot succeed.
Second, the struggle against terror is going to be harder than we hoped. Our enemies have scattered and multiplied, and the violent jihadi current has renewed its appeal. In the Arab world, in parts of Africa, in Europe and in the U.S., a constellation of revitalized and inventive movements now seeks to wreak havoc. It is delusional to believe that we can eliminate this problem by eliminating poverty, underdevelopment, dictatorship or any other “root causes” of the problem; we cannot eliminate them in a policy-relevant time frame. An ugly fight lies ahead. Instead of minimizing the terror threat in hopes of calming the public, the president must prepare public opinion for a long-term struggle.
Third, the focus must now return to Iran. Concern with Iran’s growing power is the thread that unites Israel and Saudi Arabia. Developing and moving on an Iran strategy that both Saudis and Israelis can support will help President Obama rebuild America’s position in the shifting sands. That is likely to mean a much tougher policy on Syria. Drawing red lines in the sand and stepping back when they are crossed won't rebuild confidence.
President Obama now faces a moment similar to the one President Carter faced when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. The assumptions that shaped key elements of his foreign policy have not held up; times have changed radically and policy must shift. The president is a talented leader; the world will be watching what he does.


Despite the fact that these history lessons are in plain view for another liberal president to see – a “poor man’s Kennedy” who goes by the name Obama – the American march of folly continued onward, this time to Cairo.
Upon assuming the presidency in January 2009, Obama was determined to open a new, more conciliatory chapter with the Muslim world. He sought to offer an array of confidence-building gestures that would eventually lead the world to a utopia of moderation and pragmatic deal-making. Yet even before it was possible to gauge the practicality of this dramatic initiative (which was introduced to the world in the form of the Cairo speech delivered by the president on June 4, 2009), the Arab Spring burst onto the scene with a violent bang and completely reshuffled the deck.
Since the emergence of the Arab Spring, one would be hard-pressed to pinpoint one realistic, sober-minded move by the Obama administration in the region, particularly over Egypt. In light of the endless stream of mistakes and mishaps, one can only be sorry that famed historian Barbra Tuchman, who penned such classics as the unforgettable The March of Folly, is no longer with us. Otherwise, she would have been able to add an entire chapter about one of many follies that have been committed in Washington's dealings with Cairo.
The explosion of the Arab Spring in the town squares of the Egyptian capital in the winter of 2011 and the slogans of democracy that were bandied about at the time fell on attentive ears in Washington. Like Kennedy, Obama quickly became convinced that a window of opportunity had presented itself, one which would allow him to advance the process of Western-style democratization in Egypt. He believed this despite the fact that Egyptian society and its institutions had not undergone the requisite moral metamorphosis necessary for a democracy to take root.
The administration was completely blinded by its own lofty rhetoric, which supporters of the revolution used in their struggle to bring down Hosni Mubarak's regime. That was when the U.S. decided to abandon its longtime, reliable ally. As it did with Iran during the waning days of the Shah's government, the U.S. repeated its stance 30 years later in the Egyptian context. There is no doubt that Mubarak acted with aggression against his political rivals, and that his regime bore none of the hallmarks of democratic governance.
From a geostrategic standpoint, on the other hand, the tremendous, years-long contribution that Mubarak, as a pivotal member of the moderate Sunni camp, made to Western security cannot be disputed. Nonetheless, despite his status as a valued asset, the Egyptian president was left to his own devices.
This American tragedy continued after the Egyptian elections, when Obama gave his stamp of approval to the man who ascended to the top office, Mohammed Morsi.
The fact that the new president did not even bother to internalize the essence and the spirit of democratic governance and instead worked tirelessly to tighten his grip on power while at the same time cutting the opposition down to size did not prompt the White House to reassess its support of the Muslim Brotherhood-led government.
Since Morsi’s government was removed from power six weeks ago by the military (which espouses an avowedly pro-Western orientation), it appears the White House has yet to recover from the shock of what is perceived as Egypt's regression to the pre-democratic era. The administration’s attitude to the new strongman in Cairo, General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, is chilly, even bordering on hostile.
Not a day goes by without Washington complaining to the new regime about its behavior. The most recent dustup came as a result of the decision to arrest Muslim Brotherhood chief Mohammed Badie.