Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Obama's Silence

Mike L.

{Cross-Posted at Israel Thrives and Geoffff's Joint, Bar and Grill.}

 Thousands of Egyptians gather at Cairo’s Tahrir square for anti-Morsi rally

CAIRO — Thousands flocked to Cairo’s central Tahrir square on Tuesday for a protest against Egypt’s president in a significant test of whether the opposition can rally the street behind it in a confrontation aimed at forcing the Islamist leader to rescind decrees that granted him near absolute powers. 
Waving Egypt’s red, white and black flags and chanting slogans against President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood, the protesters joined several hundreds who have been camping out at the square since Friday demanding the decrees be revoked...

The president’s declaration last week of new powers for himself has energized and — to a degree unified — the mostly liberal and secular opposition after months of divisions and uncertainty while Islamists from the Muslim Brotherhood and other groups rose to dominate the political landscape.
When Barack Obama made the foolish decision to support the "Arab Spring" he claimed to do so out of support for democracy and support for the people's wishes throughout the Middle East.  I have never understood how supporting theocratic dictatorships in the movement for political Islam could possibly be considered support for democracy when those dictatorships are anything but democratic.  Yet this is what we were told and Obama supporters lapped it up like cream.

And now that the Obama administration has helped install the Muslim Brotherhood into power in Egypt, and now that Morsi and the Brotherhood are beginning the process of stripping the Egyptian government of its democratic institutions, will Obama speak up?

So far nothing.  Silence.

Just as Obama was silent when the Iranian people took to the streets in opposition to their theocratic regime, so Obama is silent now as the Egyptian people take to the streets in opposition to their theocratic regime.

I do not know why Obama does what he does.  Some claim that he's a Jihadi, which is to say, some think that he wants to see the spread of political Islam throughout the Middle East and, although that is not my interpretation, it is not particularly difficult to see why many people would draw such a conclusion.  The so-called "Arab Spring" was / is the rise of political Islam and if you support the "Arab Spring," whatever your best intentions... however naive they may be... then you are supporting political Islam, which is the most viciously reactionary conservative political movement in the world today.

My own sense is that Obama supported the "Arab Spring" for the same reason that so many well-meaning progressives did so, because he honestly thought that it was the great up-welling of Arab democracy.  Those of us with a little more basic common sense were willing to wait and see before jumping to any such conclusions, which is why I have concluded that Obama is not particularly bright.  He has intelligence in the way that George W. Bush had intelligence, which is the intelligence of the crafty politician, but he didn't have enough intelligence to see either the Muslim Brotherhood or the "Arab Spring" for what they are.

He can have no such delusions now, however, because Muhammed Morsi just did what people like Barry Rubin told us he was going to do all along.  He is stripping back the thin veneer of Egyptian democracy because the goal of the movement was never democratic to begin with.  Dictators may very well use the ballot to come to power, but just as Hamas has not had an election since coming to office, do not expect to see another national Egyptian election in 4 years or 6 years or 8.

If I were a betting man, which I am, I would put down good money on the bet that there is no way that the Muslim Brotherhood is going to risk losing power through the ballot box now that it has finally, after almost 90 years struggling in the opposition, come into its own.

And for that we can, at least in part, thank Barack Obama.

Perhaps now we can finally put away the silly notion that Obama is playing three dimensional chess in an effort to outfox political Islam.  That was never the case.  Obama is not some sort of grand thinker, above the scene, moving the pieces of a vast and complex geopolitical chess board.  He is rather, like most presidents, I suppose, a guy of average intelligence in a job that is way over his head.  I am certain that he means well, but I also do not care what his intentions are as I look out at the results.

So many of us were so hopeful for this presidency, and remember that I voted for him as well the first time around, that we were (and are) willing to overlook almost anything that he does in order to maintain the delusion that Barack Obama represents the greatness of progressive political craftsmanship.  The truth of the matter is that he represents nothing so much as the failed aspirations of one struggling to maintain some measure of control in world that is significantly different from what Rashid Khalidi and Edward Said said it was.

His supporters will never admit this to themselves, however, because that would require looking at the last four years with fresh eyes and open minds.

I wouldn't gamble on it.

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