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Obama Loses Egypt

Obama’s Egypt failure is becoming all the more plain, and the cultural and political Islamization of our most important Arab ally may well become a campaign issue before long

The New York Times today reports that not only are Islamists ascendant in Egypt, but their most radical fringe is faring much better in the ongoing elections than expected.

The party formed by the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s mainstream Islamist group, appeared to have taken about 40 percent of the vote, as expected. But a big surprise was the strong showing of ultraconservative Islamists, called Salafis, many of whom see most popular entertainment as sinful and reject women’s participation in voting or public life.

Analysts in the state-run news media said early returns indicated that Salafi groups could take as much as a quarter of the vote, giving the two groups of Islamists combined control of nearly 65 percent of the parliamentary seats.

Below is what I wrote back in February as Obama’s meandering and capricious Egypt policy eventually wound its way toward abandoning Hosni Mubarak, the faithful U.S. ally who had kept the peace with Israel and been a source for stability amid the political ululating that passes for leadership in the rest of the Middle East.

Once Mubarak gets on a plane and heads for the Ritz Carlton Doha, an immense power vacuum is created, the giant sucking sound of which will be animated by every fundamentalist America-hater who can be found in Egypt.

The people of Egypt will never love America. They won’t – it’s shocking for the White House – even love Obama. And once the Muslim Brotherhood is running Egypt, they will suffer, and so will we. And Egyptians will get plenty of violence.

And so it is coming to pass. The Islamists profess faith in democracy, and they will continue to do so as long as democracy shows its faithfulness toward them. Then, once they’ve consolidated their rule and gotten a rein on the military, they will thunder from the minarets about threats to Islam and round up the usual suspects.

Obama, and George W. Bush before him, did little to force the kind of reforms that were needed to slowly unscrew the pressure valve in Egypt and give democratic forces the opportunity to organize. This would have at least provided Egypt a chance to develop its democracy and avoid a sudden Islamist takeover.

Instead, Obama went to Egypt in 2009 and preached revolution:

I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things:  the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose.  These are not just American ideas; they are human rights.  And that is why we will support them everywhere.

Sure, these are wonderful ideas. But when you go to Egypt and say to the people that their leader’s government is illegitimate, it sends them a signal about hat you will do – or won’t do – if they rise up.

What was needed over the past several years was steadfastness in support of Mubarak along with quiet, sustained and severe pressure – using the billions we send to Egypt as leverage – to force reform. Neither Bush nor Obama did this successfully.

And so now there’s a new Pharaoh in town. And he doesn’t like America, or Israel.

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68 Responses to Obama Loses Egypt

  1. …the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose.

    Sounds like the America we used to live in not so long ago…

  2. Keith –

    Excellent, just excellent!! Spot on.

    In the same vein I want to mention John Batchelor whose radio show gives Middle East issues great coverage and also has also been ringing the warning bell regarding the Brotherhood etc.

  3. Every regime takeover planned by Obama has been a disaster, trading friends for enemies. Egypt and Libya both had leaders who were our allies and shared a mutual understanding. Obama and his troublemaker Hillary C have managed to alienate the countries with oil through their own greed, arrogance, and yes stupidity. We supported the rebel opposition (Al Qaeda) and not the government loyalists. We will have no one with any resources on our side, and we have done nothing about increasing our oil reserves in the meantime. Forcing Mubarek to leave was a huge mistake, as was Gaddafi. I fully expect the Gaddafi’s will regain control of the country, but they certainly will not do business with us. The NTC in Libya is a joke and has little control. It will be easily overthrown by the people and tribes loyal to Moammar. Whether you liked Mubarek or Gadaffi’s government, at least it survived over 40 years, so something must have been working. Yet, in less than a year, both countries are now in shambles, and about to become a part of the Muslim Brotherhood (just as both leaders warned it would happen.) Obama listens to no one about anything; his arrogance has led the country on a path to destruction!

    • Well, this is one ‘possible’ narrative among the myriad of conspiracy theories that abound around this site….

      To opine that the dictatorial regimes of Gadhafi and Mubarak and the brutality that was being employed to maintain their grips on power was somehow better than the outcomes now emerging is just laughable. You couldn’t say such stuff in a public realm without everyone attempting to distance themselves from you and these extreme positions. Just crazy.

      Libya is showing great promise to be a far better place than it ever has been since any time in its long history. Egypt will go through growing pains via the democracy movement, but Egypt will survive and thrive and we are truly better off with a democratic Egypt than the previous dictator-military government.

      It just pains me that a US citizen could actually side with Gadhafi over our own nation and our closest allies. This is the same man that perpetrated so many acts of regional terrorism and civil war conflicts throughout Africa, meddled in the Irish-UK conflict, and then participated in the downing of PanAM 103. I just can not comprehend your mindset. I comprehend that you don’t like Obama. So be it. But the rest of the stuff is just unacceptable.

      • “To opine that the dictatorial regimes of Gadhafi and Mubarak and the brutality that was being employed to maintain their grips on power was somehow better than the outcomes now emerging is just laughable.”

        I have a feeling that people like you thought the same way when Mao took over China, Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia and Mullahs took over Iran. Now, in each case, the libs also laughed when learned people told them how things would be worse. Sounds like you never learn.

        “You couldn’t say such stuff in a public realm without everyone attempting to distance themselves from you and these extreme positions. Just crazy.”

        I know. And if 1,000 years ago I were to say that Earth rotates around the Sun, people would also think it was crazy and attempt to distance themselves from me. Now, this position was extreme, maybe even crazy, but it was correct. In short , your appeal to authority (or rather to a mob rule) is laughable.

        “Libya is showing great promise to be a far better place than it ever has been since any time in its long history.”

        Hm. Libyan people are already running around with Al Qaeda flags. If you like it, well, I think you need to move somewhere else.

        ” Egypt will go through growing pains via the democracy movement, but Egypt will survive and thrive and we are truly better off with a democratic Egypt than the previous dictator-military government.”

        I remember same thing was said about China (after Mao took over), Vietnam, Cambodia, Iran, and many other places. Yap, Moslem Brotherhood – that’s like, really, a nice democratic movement.

  4. The Arabs will either implode upon and among themselves or … don’t even want to write it here. We pull out of Iraq by the end of the month. Pay close attention to what happens without American money, oversight and guidance and we’ll have our answer.

    -snip-
    Once upon a time a mad Caliph demanded of an old servant of his that he teach a donkey to talk for his amusement. If he refused, he would be put to death. If he failed he would be put to death as well. The old servant shrugged and asked for a year’s time in which to complete the task. When other servants asked him why he had accepted, he answered. “A year is a long time. Either the Caliph will die, the donkey will die, or the donkey will learn to speak.”

    http://sultanknish.blogspot.com/2011/11/donkey-is-dead.html

      • I just sort of wish sometimes we would let them fight each other and stay out of it.

        I saw some reasonable, western leaning folks in Egypt talking about leaving the country as it looks likely it will be fundamentalist. (Especially some sharp women.) They better hurry and grab their assets and flee.

  5. I know that this will sound cold hearted, but we can always hope that the various factions within the Muslim world will decide to go after each other, and hold off on any further attacks on the West until Obama is gone.

    If you want a good read on the history of the “religion of peace” Trifkovic’s “The Sword of the Prophet” and Spencer’s “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)” and “The Truth about Muhammad” are all excellent books. Rev. JL Menezes’ “The Life and Religion of Mohammed” while dated in writing style (it was published in 1912) is also good, but very Catholic in its view.

  6. I always thought “Arab Spring” was short for “Arab Spring for My Throat.”

    As The One and the MSM lauded the democracy-loving people of Egypt and declared the Muslim Brotherhood was out, I wondered if they had never heard of the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks. The Bolshies let the Menshies do all the work of stabilizing, then swung in and took everything for themselves. Ditto the Muz Brotherhood, wait and see.

  7. O had to see this coming. If he didn’t he’s more disengaged than I thought.
    It’s such a shame becouse Egypt is a cultural and historical icon. Now it’s lost and we’ll never see (at least in my lifetime) it blossom the way most of their people deserve. Can you imagine what this is doing to it’s tourist industry.

    • Oh get out of here. I’m planning a vacation to Israel, Turkey and Egypt for either summer of 2012 or 2013. If you want to go to the region to see the archeology, geography, beaches, etc… then just go. It’s not hard or even that difficult. Buy plane ticket, make basic itinerary, pack bag and do it. Just make the decision to go, and stop paying attention to so much nonsensical fear-mongering that originates from fringe sources (that coincidentally offer only anecdotes and no empirical evidence).

  8. he didn’t ‘lose’ Egypt, he has intentionally taken down Egypt and Libya and handed them to the radical muslim world. He’s ignored the rebellion in Iran and now is provoking a war in Syria which means Israel is about to be hit from all sides, the south is no longer friendly. This is not the results of a befuddled Elmer Fudd, this is designed.

    Everyone reads about the economic troubles in Europe and the USA, but are you reading about the economic problems in China and Russia? All four are about to collapse. And they are bringing out the old playbook for a world war to solve the problem and decided the middle east will be the battle ground; from India across North Africa. Our new military toys will be tested, new manufacturing of ships and planes, debts will just be wiped out in the process of the war and everyone will end up with a carved out piece of the oil world and their assets.

    barkleypontree.blogspot.com

  9. This should not be a surprise. I only hope that there is a mechanism whereby the Christian Copts would be given preferential treatment for immigration when the bloodshed becomes serious.

  10. His Arab spring has worked out nicely..I suspect it was of little surprise to him..surely, he isn’t that ignorant. I wonder how long we will continue sending billions to Egypt..as they continue to harrass and kill Christians and anyone who doesn’t agree with the radicals..

    I guess McCain feigned surprise as well..Hell, I’m just an ordinary redneck and I could see this coming..I continue to be overwhelmed by the ignorance and ineptitude of our so called leaders..when will we call them to account?

  11. don’t worry about Israel, Keith. Obama’s got the situation covered. he doesn’t like to pat himself on the back about it, but he’s done more for the Israelis than anyone since Moses.

  12. Personally, I’m kind of hoping for the return of Rameses II. But I take your point: It’s much more likely that we’re going to get some new Imhotep.

    The only real issue here is the potential threat to Israel’s security — and that could be easily overcome by a quick seizure of the Sinai peninsula, which would block western access to Gaza and provide a buffer against an Egyptian attack on Israel proper.

    (And if the worst ever came to pass, a really big bomb on the Aswan Dam would do wonders to clean up the place.)

    The notion that Egyptians have it in them to cast any sort of moderating, modernizing influence on the rest of the Islamic world is a complete pipe dream. They need to be kept in a box where they can do as little harm to others as possible. Perhaps things will be different in several more centuries, but not today, tomorrow or the day after.

  13. Please. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say the president (Bush or Obama) should have provided “steadfast support” of Mubarak while at the same demanding that he used “quiet, sustained and severe pressure…to force reform.” Should he have steadfastly supported Mubarak OR severely pressured him to reform, which is it? You want to have your cake and eat it too. You want to be able to say that supporting a dictator isn’t good enough for you while at the same time wash your hands of the possible result (Islamization) of the fall of the dictator.

    The truth is that Mubarak had to go, not so much because of the Facebooking, Tweating crowd in Tahir Square, but because the military had had enough of him. The military did not like that Mubarak was grooming his son to take his place. The generals and colonels and such proably want the wealth and graft and power to be spread around (at least among themselves and the rest of the small elite class), not kept within one family. Without the military, Mubarak was toast, and there was nothing Obama could do about it. All he could do was try and manage the transition, which is what he and the Administration have been trying to do.

    As for what should have been done before, there is simply no way that Bush or Obama could have prodded Mubarak into meaningful reform. Sure, we gave him billions, but he did our bidding on the things that really matter to the US. He made nice with Israel and was tough with Islamic extremists. Reform was a dead end, and the results of the first really free election show you why. If reform meant democracy, well, the people weren’t not going to choose leaders who put making nice with Israel and being tough with Islamic extremists on the top of their lists. Far from it. The US had a choice: stick with Mubarak and get the Egypt it want geo politically, or dump him and take its chances on a democratically elected regime, which was likely to be Islamist. The US chose Option One until it was no longer available. Now it has to deal with the possibility of Islamists in power.

    But, perhaps, all is not yet lost, from the US perspective. The pro US military is still in power, and plans to be for at least several more months. Who knows if it will ever give up real power? There might end up being a “Turkish” situation, in which a pro West military reins in an Islamist civilian governent. And the elections themselves have several more rounds to go. This was only a preliminary vote for a parliament that was to write a constitution, not actually govern. Perhaps the liberals will do better in the later rounds. Moreover, there is always a chance that the Muslim Brotherhood would rather form a coaltion and govern with the liberals, rather than the extreme Islamists. Islamists are not all the same. The MB can perhaps be dealt with. Egypt might change…women might have to wear headgear, alcohol might go underground, etc, etc, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that full scale sharia a la Iran or Saudi Arabia has to be implemented. Moderate Islamists in power in North Africa need not be the begining of the end. Each country is different, and each region too. Full scale, Wahhabi Islam is not prevalent in North Africa. Neither is Shite extremism.

    Neither Bush nor Obama prompted the Arab Spring. Rather, it came forth because the people were tired of the dictators (pro Western and otherwise). The question is what will replace those dictators. As most Arabs, apparently, support some form of moderate Islamic party, that is who will govern, if things are run democratically. The US can try to adapt to that, or it can stick its head in the sand and try to keep the military in power indefinitely, or, I suppose, it can do what you are doing and indlulge in pointless and inconsistent recriminations as it cries over spilt milk.

    • Thank you. Great post. Up until then this discussion, was built on the faulty premise that the U.S. has essentially unlimited power to dictate its political will in places like Egypt, not to mention unlimited money, manpower and domestic political capital to support a never-ending occupation/dominant presence in Iraq. And to suggest that Obama’s Egypt speech is responsible for the popular uprising there….ha, ha, ha.

    • Your posting while well written, reminds me of the same type of logic the “old China Hands” had about the agarian reformers under Mao back in 1948-49 just before China was lost to Communism.

      With the exceptions of getting rid of Ben Laden and Al Awaki, the Obama foreign policy has been a total disaster…especially with regard to Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Israel. It will take the next President (Republican) in 2013 years to clean up the mess.

  14. I appreciate your use of the blue inset quotes — they always give firm context to your pieces, plus they help those of us who are visual processors! (I can always easily find the quote I want to read to my husband while we’re having coffee – ha.)

    P.S. Nice link from RCP

  15. Egypt is just the most prominent victim of the Obama Doctrine which espouses that America treat it’s allies treacherously and be as harmless as possible, or even supportive, of America’s enemies.

    • We’ll agree to disagree.

      America’s allies are firmly in our sphere, as evidenced by the recent successful NATO (and coalition) action in Libya, combination of UK, EU and USA sanctions against Iran and continued support from NATO member nations for the on-going military action in Afghanistan.

      Our allies stand firm with the USA. Furthermore, the populations of these allied nations stand firmer now with the USA under Obama’s leadership than these populations stood with the USA under Bush. To be clear, I very much like and respect former President Bush, but just illustrating the point that you don’t or won’t witness hundreds of thousands of citizens protesting a visit by Obama as you did in Europe prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. This is just fact that is beyond contestation.

  16. The parallels for Obama and Carter continue. Obama has accomplished in Egypt with the abandonment of Mubarrak the same disaster that Carter fostered with the abandonment of the Shah in Iran. Let’s hope the consequences are not similarly disasterous. Next move in Egypt is for the Islamist to takeover the US Embassy.

  17. IMHO We did not “lose” a valuable ally in the Middle East, we actively threw them to the wolves. There was enough information in the mainstream media to see that the Arab Spring was a very dangerous uprising of Islamists and their supporters. It cannot be possible that our State Department and our professional diplomats did not know that the Muslim Brotherhood was going to be the big winner in Egypt. It was the subject of dozens of MSM news stories…so the abandonment of Mubarek and the country of Egypt could only be a deliberate act on Obama’s part.

    • Yes, it was a deliberate act to abandon Mubarak. And it was the correct decision.

      A US government can not stand by a dictator that has murdered its citizenry in the streets and still view this government as a friend and ally. You know this to be the case. A Republican or Democratic administration will always function in much the same manner and diplomatic mechanisms for these types of scenarios.

      If you are openly advocating the support of the Mubarak regime, then you are already among a significant minority of the US population with this mindset – even among Republican voters. You can never hold the high ground to defend the morality of the national character while simultaneously supporting the brutality of the Mubarak regime.

  18. This entire piece is pure speculation. I’ve seen much of the same on the conservative blogosphere and the AM radio types, but bottom line point in Egypt is that the current US administration or any administration could not have supported Mubarak after the aggressive actions that his regime took against the protest movement. The former ruler of Egypt had lost the people. The entire planet witnessed this moment. There was no way to salvage that. If Obama or any hypothetical Republican president were to support the dictator’s regime in Egypt it would have been a pure betrayal of American values. It’s just that simple.
    Give it more thought if you need to. Think about it. Obama gets hit by folks on the Right like this author for not supporting Mubarak (assumedly due to boogeyman fears of Islam and security issues for Israel), but not one credible GOP candidate for presidency will verbally acknowledge in an interview that the USA did the incorrect thing by supporting the pro-democracy movement. It would be political suicide for the GOP candidates to openly express support for a dictator that murdered over 1,000+ pro-democracy supporters in the streets of Cairo. Any GOP candidate that does acknowledge support for Mubarak’s hardline approach to maintaining power is finished for the race to the WH. Such a policy position is just that severe of a betrayal of our American value system and the press would never cease to pound on this issue. Therefore it won’t happen.
    So the rhetorical question then emerges; if the GOP candidates can not openly support the Mubarak regime, why are those on the fringe-Right so adamant in their support for this brutal dictator?

  19. Middle East: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
    01 Dec 2011
    Folks,
    Islamists claimed a decisive victory in Egypt Wednesday when The Muslim Brotherhood won 40% of the vote and the more conservative Salafists won 25% of the vote, giving an Islamic coalition majority of 65% of the vote in Egypt[1].
    Barak Obama spent 4 years, from age 6 to age 10, growing up in Indonesia, the most populous Islamic country in the world[2].
    After being elected President of the United States, Obama made a speech in Cairo, Egypt, where he blamed all the world’s ills on the USA and called on Arabs to seek democracy. During this period of Arab political transition, Obama denigrated our mid-east allies, and provided little guidance to the fledgling Arab democratic movements.
    There are now Islamist governments in Tunisia, Morocco, and, potentially, Egypt, in addition to the more extreme Islamist governments of Iran, Pakistan, and, potentially, Afghanistan. Turkey is moving in the fundamentalist Islamic direction also.
    With a little stretch of the geopolitical imagination, it is very easy to envision a new Islamic Califate, stretching from the west in Morocco, to the east in Pakistan, controlling the half of the world’s oil that is in the Persian Gulf area and, just as importantly, controlling the Suez Canal. This new Califate may be overtly hostile to the USA, but the USA will survive.
    The country in real danger is Israel. Take this teaching moment to recall that, according to exit polling, 77% of American Jews voted for the Marxist/Islamist Obama[3].
    Respectfully,
    Tom Johnson
    http://opinionscribe.blogspot.com
    [1]http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/01/world/middleeast/voting-in-egypt-shows-mandate-for-islamists.html?_r=2&hp
    [2]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barack_Obama
    [3]http://www.haaretz.com/news/barack-obama-wins-77-percent-of-jewish-vote-exit-polls-show-1.256651

    • Do you seriously believe this stuff about the Caliphate?

      Perhaps you do. This is the Glenn Beck school of thought.

      The entire region is Islamic. Islam is a powerful force in all governments and their institutions.

      I suspect that you think you have it all figured out with these brilliant insights. But to blame Obama for pushing Egypt to the ‘new Caliphate’ is equally absurd to blame former Prez Bush for pushing Iraq (and their Shia majority) into the sphere of Iran (per Invasion of 2003).

      This is just partisan insanity that has no academic, educational or strategic value. Just talk-talk fodder for old men at the local pub.

  20. the population of egypt doubled, while her resources did not. This is a reflection of worldwide crisis that will deepen, not Obamas (or anyone elses) policy. This article indulges in a dangerous delusion that the world can be controlled from washington dc by anyone.

  21. Obama didn’t “lose Egypt”
    He TOOK Egypt, and GAVE it to radical Muslims, knowing that they will attack Israel.
    Obama should be drawn and quartered.
    He is pure evil

  22. Back during the good old days of the Cold War, a nation changer would be addressed on multiple levels and whatever would have to be done would be in place not to lose said nation to the dark side. Clearly the president does not see radical Islam as a threat and his pick of people in high government places either agrees or does not have the skills to stop the wave of radical Islam spreading across the Middle East.

    The only thing Carter could have claimed as a positive is now ancient history.

  23. Dumbo said “I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose.”

    But funny how he acts the exact opposite of this.

  24. You have a selective memory. The Wall St. Journal and assorted “conservatives” were jumping up and down rejoicing in the Arab “spring” (soon to be the West’s nightmare), dying for “boots on the ground in Libya (soon to become another Islamist dictatorship), and calling for Assad’s downfall. The Arab world is largely too naive, too clannish, and too religious for democracy. Recall that democracy in the West rose along with the splintering of religious power — not that religion is bad, but that religion mixed with power is no longer religion, just power with a religious agenda.
    The mistakes are not Obama’s. They are the mistakes of the West refusing to look at history and reality, led by an economic cabal that always looks for a fast military buck instead of the slow prosperity of peace.

  25. “What was needed over the past several years was steadfastness in support of Mubarak…”
    Yeah because that worked out so well with Batista, Shah Pahlavi, Pinochet and all the other bastards we supported because they were our bastards.

    • “Yeah because that worked out so well with Batista, Shah Pahlavi, Pinochet and all the other bastards we supported because they were our bastards.”

      Batista was far better than Castro – both for American people and for the Cubans.
      Shar of Iran was better for America and the people of Iran.
      And there is no doubt that Pinochet saved Chile from becoming a crap hole like Cuba.

      Now, it would be more interesting to know why Obama gives money to PLO and Hamas – those two are most certainly bastards, but they are not “our bastards”. I would be interested to see 1 (one) liberal who would agree that US should stop funding the palestinian arabs – directly (through US aid) and indirectly (through UN). Anyone?

  26. It will literally take decades to undo the damage Obama has done to the United States and the world, both economically and in foriegn policy.

  27. I keep reading the left, who appear to be horrified of the possiblity that America would support a tyrant like Mubarak. This reminds me how differently they sang when FDR was felationing comrade Stalin – or how many leftists in US today openly adore Castro and Chavez. For all those folks wearing Che Gevara teeeshirts – what’s wrong with Mubarak?

    Last but not least – can someone reminded me the name of Obama’s administrator who told the people that Mao was one of her more beloved philosophers? Mind you, Mao killed tens of millions of people – far more than Mubarak – and yet, he is on the A+ list.

    In short, libs, spare me the fake outrage about Mubarak. We all know that the only reason why Obama supported his ouster is because he was the enemy of Israel. Good old Obie is far more deferential to the crazy Iranian mullahs and the Syrian fuehrer even though people were fighting against them. Who said it – “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”? Obama is following this maxim to the tee.