Saturday, March 5, 2011

Been hearing this a lot lately

The most unexpected people, such as Oxford academics are beginning to mutter that, perhaps, there is something to be said for George W. Bush in matters foreign, particularly as one looks at his successor's ineptitude. Indeed, people are saying that maybe, just maybe, it is President Bush's freedom for the Middle East agenda that is being played out now, however awkwardly, through much of the Arab world.

Charles Krauthammer's article in The Washington Post may not come into the category of the unexpected ones but is, as one would expect, cogently argued.
Voices around the world, from Europe to America to Libya, are calling for U.S. intervention to help bring down Moammar Gaddafi. Yet for bringing down Saddam Hussein, the United States has been denounced variously for aggression, deception, arrogance and imperialism.

A strange moral inversion, considering that Hussein's evil was an order of magnitude beyond Gaddafi's. Gaddafi is a capricious killer; Hussein was systematic. Gaddafi was too unstable and crazy to begin to match the Baathist apparatus: a comprehensive national system of terror, torture and mass murder, gassing entire villages to create what author Kanan Makiya called a "Republic of Fear."


No matter the hypocritical double standard. Now that revolutions are sweeping the Middle East and everyone is a convert to George W. Bush's freedom agenda, it's not just Iraq that has slid into the memory hole. Also forgotten is the once proudly proclaimed "realism" of Years One and Two of President Obama's foreign policy - the "smart power" antidote to Bush's alleged misty-eyed idealism.

It began on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's first Asia trip, when she publicly played down human rights concerns in China. The administration also cut aid for democracy promotion in Egypt by 50 percent. And cut civil society funds - money for precisely the organizations we now need to help Egyptian democracy - by 70 percent.

This new realism reached its apogee with Obama's reticence and tardiness in saying anything in support of the 2009 Green Revolution in Iran. On the contrary, Obama made clear that nuclear negotiations with the discredited and murderous regime (talks that a child could see would go nowhere) took precedence over the democratic revolutionaries in the street - to the point where demonstrators in Tehran chanted, "Obama, Obama, you are either with us or with them."
Read the whole thing as it also provides the necessary links to the other articles.

I would, however, like to add one thing. Under President Obama the United States appears to have abandoned its role and there have been rather silly comments about power seeping away from it to .... well, nobody quite knows where. Europe is no longer the preferred successor, China and India have rather a lot of internal problems and the rest is nowhere. Yet, even with this inept politician at the helm (when he bothers to show up) there is no question in anybody's mind which is the only country that could, conceivably, make a difference in a tricky situation like the one in Libya.

1 comment:

  1. Mr Bob Geldof is not my idea of an oracle but I've never forgotten this:

    Bob Geldof astonished the aid community yesterday by using a return visit to Ethiopia to praise the Bush administration as one of Africa's best friends in its fight against hunger and Aids.

    The musician-turned activist said Washington was providing major assistance, in contrast to the European Union's "pathetic and appalling" response to the continent's humanitarian crises.

    "You'll think I'm off my trolley when I say this, but the Bush administration is the most radical - in a positive sense - in its approach to Africa since Kennedy," Geldof told the Guardian.

    The neo-conservatives and religious rightwingers who surrounded President George Bush were proving unexpectedly receptive to appeals for help, he said. "You can get the weirdest politicians on your side."

    Former president Bill Clinton had not helped Africa much, despite his high-profile visits and apparent empathy with the downtrodden, the organiser of Live Aid, claimed. "Clinton was a good guy, but he did fuck all."