President Barack Obama’s foreign policy legacy was supposed to be the “Arab Spring.” But this naive embrace of mob rule hasn’t worked out very well.
The administration openly supported the overthrow of rulers from Tunisia to Egypt to Syria who were, indeed, murderous tyrants. But who has replaced them? Agents of the extremist Muslim Brotherhood.
Women’s rights in these countries? Set back decades, if not centuries. Religious tolerance? Coptic Christians who had lived peacefully in Egypt for millennia now face not merely discrimination, but physical attacks for such “crimes” as repairing decrepit churches.
Why was Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens left exposed in extremist hotbed Benghazi last Sept. 11, where he met with Turkish Consul General Ali Sait Akin? Did it have to do with surreptitious arms shipments to Syrian rebels, as Fox News reported? Why were he and his staff provided no Marine bodyguard? Were air rescue missions scrubbed? Why did U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice go on a disinformation tour, claiming four Americans died in some protest over a movie, when Gregory Hicks, then the second-ranking U.S. official in Libya, says he knew immediately it was an organized terrorist attack?
Transparency? Rep. Jason Chafetz, a Utah Republican, said Sunday potential witnesses with first-hand knowledge of the attack have been “suppressed” by the administration.
Syria’s Bashar Assad, meantime, shows a stubborn reluctance to step down, which the White House seems to find puzzling. Do they think he’s having trouble choosing between the hangman’s noose that greeted Saddam Hussein, or a bullet in the head, which was Moammar Gadhafi’s reward for offering Uncle Sam some late-in-life help in suppressing terrorism?
Deposed kings and shahs drawing down their looted riches as they lived out opulent retirements on the Riviera may have been a bit exasperating in the old days. But the system did at least make it easier to encourage the next one to step down.
Does Mr. Obama now propose to go to war in Syria — on behalf of al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood — or to eat his brave words about a “red line” and scuttle away, saying “Never mind”? (Hint: Say “Never mind.” Please.)
Mr. Obama was excited about Mohammed Morsi’s election in Egypt, a year back. He sent Deputy Secretary of State William Burns to deliver his congratulations in person, followed closely by missions led by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. It appears Mr. Panetta made it known Mr. Morsi would be welcome to visit Washington. Mr. Morsi took a trip, all right — to China and Iran.
Now Mr. Morsi is giving further evidence of how he understands democracy. Prominent Egyptian political activist Ahmed Douma was arrested last week and will be put on trial on charges of insulting President Morsi during a TV interview, when he reputedly referred to his nation’s latest Maximum Leader as a “killer” and a “criminal.”
In today’s Egypt, this “crime” is punishable by up to three years in prison. Another celebrity being investigated under the same statute? Comedian Bassem Youssef, who has been described as Egypt’s Jon Stewart. In the midst of being horrified, it’s hard not to laugh. This is like watching a bunch of thugs in clown shoes jailing Will Ferrell and the cast of “Saturday Night Live.”
Is this the kind of hope and change Mr. Obama meant to offer the people of the Middle East?