|Obama in Cairo, June 2009|
Obama's 'Cairo Doctrine' In Shambles -Charles Krauthammer
In the week following 9/11/12 something big happened: the collapse of the Cairo Doctrine, the centerpiece of President Obama's foreign policy. It was to reset the very course of post-9/11 America, creating a profound rapprochement with the Islamic world.
In June 2009, in Cairo, Obama promised "a new beginning" offering Muslims "mutual respect," unsubtly implying previous disrespect. Curious, as over the previous 20 years, America had six times committed its military forces on behalf of oppressed Muslims, three times for reasons of pure humanitarianism (Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo), where no U.S. interests were at stake.
But no matter. Obama had come to remonstrate and restrain the hyperpower that, by his telling, had lost its way after 9/11, creating Guantanamo, practicing torture, imposing its will with arrogance and presumption.
First, he would cleanse by confession. Then he would heal. Why, given the unique sensitivities of his background — "my sister is half-Indonesian," he proudly told an interviewer in 2007, amplifying on his exquisite appreciation of Islam — his very election would revolutionize relations. And his policies of accommodation and concession would consolidate the gains:
• An outstretched hand to Iran's mullahs, a first-time presidential admission of the U.S. role in a 1953 coup, a studied and stunning turning away from the Green Revolution.
• Withdrawal from Iraq with no residual presence or influence.
• A fixed timetable for leaving Afghanistan.
• Returning our ambassador to Damascus (with kind words for Bashar al-Assad — "a reformer," suggested the secretary of state); deliberately creating distance between the U.S. and Israel.
These measures would raise our standing in the region, restore affection and respect for the U.S. and elicit new cooperation from Muslim lands. It's now three years since the Cairo speech. Look around.
The Islamic world is convulsed with an explosion of anti-Americanism. From Tunisia to Lebanon, American schools, businesses and diplomatic facilities set ablaze. A U.S. ambassador and three others murdered in Benghazi. The black flag of Salafism, of which al-Qaida is a prominent element, raised over our embassies in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Sudan.
The administration, staggered and confused, blames it all on a 14-minute trailer for a film no one's seen and may not even exist. What else can it say? Admit that its doctrinal premises were supremely naive and its policies deeply corrosive to U.S. influence?
Religious provocations are endless. Resentment about the five-century decline of the Islamic world is a constant. What's new — the crucial variable — is the unmistakable sound of a superpower in retreat. Ever since Henry Kissinger flipped Egypt from the Soviet to the American camp in the early 1970s, the U.S. had dominated the region. No longer.
"It's time," declared Obama to wild applause of his convention, "to do some nation-building right here at home." He'd already announced a strategic pivot from the Middle East to the Pacific. Made possible because "the tide of war is receding."
Nonsense. From the massacres in Nigeria to the charnel house that is Syria, violence has, if anything, increased. What is receding is Obama's America.
It's as axiomatic in statecraft as in physics: Nature abhors a vacuum. Islamists rush in to fill the space and declare their ascendancy. America's friends are bereft, confused, paralyzed.
Islamists rise across North Africa. Iran repeatedly defies U.S. demands on nuclear enrichment, then, as a measure of its contempt for what America thinks, openly admits that its Revolutionary Guards are deployed in Syria.
Russia, after arming Assad, warns America to stay out, while the secretary of state delivers vapid lectures about Assad "meeting" his international "obligations." The Gulf States beg the U.S. to act on Iran; Obama strains mightily to restrain ... Israel. Sovereign U.S. territory is breached and U.S. interests burned.
And what is the administration's official response? It denounces — a movie trailer! It asks Google to "review" the trailer's presence on YouTube. Deputies have a midnight "voluntary interview" with the suspected filmmaker. This in the land of free speech.
What else can Obama do? At the convention, Democrats endlessly lauded themselves on their one foreign policy success: killing Osama bin Laden. A week later, the Salafist flag flies over our embassies as mobs chant, "Obama, Obama, there are still a billion Osamas." A foreign policy in epic collapse. And, by the way, Vladimir Putin just expelled USAID from Russia. Another thank you from another recipient of another grand Obama "reset."
[Jewish World Review]
U.S. Buys Pakistani TV Time to Denounce Film -John Eggerton
The State Department confirmed that the U.S. government spent about $70,000 for ad time on TV in Pakistan to air a public service announcement from President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton disassociating the government from the movie trailer on YouTube that prompted Middle East demonstrations.
(Broadcasting and Cable)
A Raw Salafist Power Play -Michael J. Totten
Something offensive to Muslims (along with something offensive to just about everyone else in the world) is posted on the Internet several times every second, yet massive international uprisings break out only periodically.
What we saw last week was a raw play for political power by radical Salafists. By ginning up an anti-American mob and forcing President Mohamed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood member, to send riot police after the demonstrators to protect the American Embassy, the Salafists were able to make him look like a tool of the West. Salafist preachers ginned up a similar mob in Tunisia.
Members of Congress are publicly questioning whether the Egyptian government deserves any more aid. This question is an excellent start. We certainly should make it clear to Morsi that we can make his job and his life a lot more difficult than the Salafists can.
It's Not About the Video -Ross Douthat
The greatest mistake is to believe that what's happening in the Middle East is a completely genuine popular backlash against a blasphemous anti-Islamic video made in the USA. The mobs don't exist because of an offensive movie. Both the Egyptian and Libyan assaults look like premeditated challenges to those countries' ruling parties by more extreme Islamist factions.
Anti-Americanism remains a potent rallying point for popular discontent in the Islamic world. It's pointless to behave as if a more restrictive YouTube policy might have saved us from an autumn of unrest.
(New York Times)