Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Bush and the Middle East
UC Ervine Professor Mark LeVine tears into President Obama's cautious response to the Egyptian protests and then holds up President Bush in contrast:
"It's incredible, really. The president of the United States can't bring himself to talk about democracy in the Middle East. He can dance around it, use euphemisms, throw out words like "freedom" and "tolerance" and "non-violent" and especially "reform," but he can't say the one word that really matters: democracy....
...the fact that in the midst of intensifying protests senior officials feel they can spin the events away from openly calling for a real democratic transition now reveals either incredible ignorance, arrogance, or both.
Yet this is precisely an either/or moment. Much as former US president Bush declared in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, we can either be "with or against" the Egyptian people. Refusing to take sides is in fact taking sides -the wrong side."
Elliot Abrams sees the Bush Middle East agenda as suddenly prescient, chiding President Obama for his disbelief and quoting President Bush at length:
"All these developments [in Lebanon, Tunisia, and Egypt] seem to come as a surprise to the Obama administration, which dismissed Bush's "freedom agenda" as overly ideological and meant essentially to defend the invasion of Iraq. But as Bush's support for the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon and for a democratic Palestinian state showed, he was defending self-government, not the use of force. Consider what Bush said in that 2003 speech, which marked the 20th anniversary of the National Endowment for Democracy, an institution established by President Ronald Reagan precisely to support the expansion of freedom."
"Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe - because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty," Bush said. "As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment and violence ready for export."
When did President Bush become an Arabist and President Obama beholden to the cronyism of corrupt but pro-western despots ? Some sort of shift is afoot.