Hillary was very busy today, doing media commentary on the extraordinary events in Egypt—a country where she was a student and served two tours as a U.S. diplomat. We provide here a link that pulls together two of her appearances on Al Jazeera today. She makes, very clearly, a number of important points that are otherwise almost totally absent from mainstream commentary in the United States about what has transpired in Egypt.
–The United States does not really support democratization in Egypt or anywhere else in the Middle East, because regional governments that were genuinely reflective of their people’s preferences would not support many aspects of current U.S. policy in the region—whether with regard to the siege of Gaza, prolonged occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, renditions (whereby the Egyptian government and other regional governments agree to torture their own citizens for the CIA’s presumptive benefit), or (prospectively) bombing Iran.
–Mubarak’s departure from office occurred 32 years to the day after the Islamic Republic was established in Iran, setting in motion a series of events that set the stage for President Jimmy Carter’s electoral defeat in 1980. If President Obama continues to pursue policies that are antagonistic to most of the people who live in the Middle East, his difficulties may only be beginning.
–The challenge for the United States is to come to terms to with the values, interests, ideas, and grievances of people who actually live in the region. The key to meeting that challenge is a willingness to distinguish between a commitment to protecting the safety and security of the Jewish people in a portion of their Biblical homeland from an aggressive Israeli national security strategy—a strategy which holds that Israel must be able to use military force unilaterally, whenever and wherever it wants, to whatever extent it chooses, and for whatever purpose it deems desirable.
Hillary also appeared on MSNBC, where she tried to focus attention on yet another colossally bad idea from the Obama Administration in its response to developments in Egypt—a plan to provide U.S. government funds to “secular political parties”. This is a clear attempt to prevent the Muslim Brotherhood from being heard in a post-Mubarak political order. The Obama Administration is trying to marginalize the Brotherhood because it believes that is essential to protecting the real “prize”—the peace with Israel. As the Administration worked on its plan to promote secular democracy in Egypt today, it also proclaimed that the next Egyptian government “must” honor the peace treaty with Israel. And it sent Vice President Biden (the Middle East expert who said less than two weeks ago that Mubarak was not a dictator because he was a friend of Israel) out to exhort Iranians to go into the streets and protest against their government.
The Obama Administration has not done itself any favors with its promiscuous use of the verb “must” since January 25. It is unfortunate that there is no apparent learning curve on this point at the White House.
–Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett