How quickly things have changed
Barack Obama will be remembered as the president who “lost” Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt, and during whose tenure America’s alliances in the Middle East crumbled. –Aluf Benn, Haaretz
President Barack Obama has been working behind the scenes to encourage advances in human rights for the people of Egypt while maintaining alliances with President Hosni Mubarak. When it came time to take a strong position and speak into the crisis in Egypt with conviction, his stance was tepid at best. As events have unfolded in Egypt, Obama initially backed Mubarak until it was looking as though protesters were gaining the upper hand, then he quickly moved to the middle ground. Obama chose not to take a clear and decisive approach and in the end, this will have very devastating consequences not only for the people of Egypt, but for the region as a whole. Strategic influence that the United States once held in the Arab world through our Egyptian alliance is likely forever lost, and well as Israel losing the only Arab “friend” it had in Mubarak.
Obama had this to say on Friday in a phone conversation with President Mubarak: “Surely, there will be difficult days to come, but the United States will continue to stand up for the rights of the Egyptian people and work with their government in pursuit of a future that is more just, more free and more hopeful.” source: CBS
It is this type of wishy-washy statement that keeps people guessing as to what outcome the President of the United States would really like to see. Obama did not make a clear public effort to rally behind either the Egyptian people or the government, and there are revelations that he was secretly supporting the uprisings to overthrow Mubarak.
Mubarak was considered to be the United States’ strongest ally in the Muslim world, and it was certainly so for the nation of Israel. Now that Mubarak has all but left the scene, the world is watching to see how the landscape will change in Egypt. It is very likely that radicals in the Muslim Brotherhood are about to gain control of the nation, leaving the U.S. and Israel without future diplomatic influence. Also of major concern is the fate of the Suez Canal as great wealth is dependent upon transport through the vital waterway used to get goods from Europe to Asia. Markets are already beginning to show signs of the economic effects that the overthrow of Egypt’s leadership could bring as oil prices begin to rise.
Obama’s position as leader of the free world is one of great complexity and one that no one would envy in times of crisis. However, it is what he signed up for when he chose to become the leader of the free world, and the position demands that he step up and make some tough calls. He could have done something to direct a more positive outcome in Egypt so that the rights of the Egyptian people would have been addressed, without the total chaos that has opened the door to Islamic radicals establishing a regime that will inevitably afford much less freedom to its citizens than under Mubarak.
Perhaps this is what those “haters” were so concerned about when they claimed that Obama was not experienced enough to step into the office and make the tough decisions. The only tough words that come out of Obama’s mouth seem to be aimed at American citizens, particularly those on the right who oppose his radical agenda to transform the nation. Not only is he making great strides in bringing his vowed change to America, continually decreasing America’s prosperity and power, but his weakness in matters of foreign policy will have long-lasting effects on the Middle East and the world at large. There is no simple answer as to what Obama should have done regarding events in Egypt, but standing back and watching events play out on their own and not publically using his influence to direct a more positive path, all but guaranteed an even tougher road ahead for all involved.