Guest post by Barry Rubin
A statement by two National Security Council senior staff members has revealed the inner thinking of President Barack Obama. It is of incredible importance and I plead with you to read it. If you do you will comprehend fully what's going on with U.S. foreign policy.
Egypt, Egypt, Egypt... There are more words written about this event than demonstrators in Tahrir Square. But, to quote a recent Secretary of State on Benghazi, what difference does it make? A great deal indeed.
First, let’s remember that in the face of advancing totalitarianism in the Middle East, U.S. policy completely failed. Imagine what could have opposed the Nazis without Winston Churchill and Great Britain in the 1940s. The Obama government was not only ready to leave Middle Easterners to their fate; it even sided with their actual or potential oppressors.
So who has been waging the battle meanwhile? The people of Iran and Turkey, who have not won because in part the United States failed to encourage the former and did not encourage the Turkish army to do what the Egyptian army did do; the embattled Tunisian and Lebanese anti-Islamists; the Saudis (at times) and the Persian Gulf Arabs (except for Qatar) and Jordan. Oh yes, and also Israel -- the most slandered and falsely reviled country on earth.
Second, the Benghazi affair was the model of the Obama Administration worldview: If you allow a video insulting Muslims, four American officials will be killed. If you support the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, thousands of Americans might die.
And this leads us to Barack Obama’s Big Decision
Is President Obama going to come down on the side of the Islamist ex-regime -- which includes the Salafists in objective terms -- or the new regime? What a remarkable irony that Obama endlessly apologized for past U.S. support for dictators and ended up adding a new chapter to that history and heightened anti-Americanism! Remember that, during one of his last conversations with ex-President Muhammad al-Mursi, Obama told him that he still regarded him as the democratically elected president of Egypt.
Of course, Obama will have to end up recognizing the new government. The question is how much and how long he will resist that? It is pitiful to know that the best possible result is that he will accept the rulers in Cairo and continue the economic aid. In fact, he should increase it. We should not be talking punishment for the coup but in fact a rich reward, to show others which way the wind blows.
Specifically, U.S. diplomats were urging a deal: a coalition government in Egypt in which the Brotherhood has part of the power. You can imagine how well that would work and how grateful the Brotherhood (much less the Salafists) and their opponents will be to Obama for proposing they surrender. So in other words, the army, the former opposition, and the Islamists--in short, all of the Egyptian people no matter which side they are on, will see America as their enemy.
And will Obama learn more lessons from this situation? Will he stop seeking to install a regime in Syria that is worse than Mursi’s? Will he increase support for the real Iranian, Turkish, and Lebanese oppositions? Will he recognize the true strategic realities of Israel and stop seeking to install a regime like Mursi’s in the territories captured by Israel in 1967 (I refer here to Hamas, not the Palestinian Authority which might well give way to Hamas after a state would be established?)
So far though, it looks like Obama is determined to be the protector of oppressive dictatorship in Egypt. Isn't that what Obama complained about what previous presidents had done? The Obama Administration has called on Egyptian leaders to pursue, “A transparent political process that is inclusive of all parties and groups,” including “avoiding any arbitrary arrests of Mursi and his supporters,” Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said July 4 in a statement.
I don’t recall such a statement being made in criticism of the Mursi regime. According to Bloomberg News, “Two U.S. officials who asked not to be identified commenting on [Obama's] private communications—I assume it was really because they were too ashamed-- said the administration is concerned that some in the military may want to provoke the violence and provide a rationale for crushing the movement once and for all.”
Then comes a critical statement that explains Obama Middle East policy. Pay close attention to this:
“Such a move would fail and probably prompt a shift to al-Qaeda type terrorist tactics by extremists in the Islamist movement in Egypt and elsewhere, the U.S. officials said.”
What is this saying?
Remember: this is a White House policy statement for all practical purposes. That is, if the Muslim Brotherhood or the Salafists are denied power in Muslim-majority countries then they cannot be defeated. They will instead be radicalized and prone to launch September 11th-style attacks on America.
In other words, the United States must surrender and betray its allies or else it faces disaster. This is called surrender and appeasement. And, besides, "such a move would fail." There is a coherent Obama policy. Inquire no more, that is it.
And that’s why, for example, it wants the Turkish and Egyptian armies to accept an Islamist regime; and Syria as well; with Israel making whatever concessions are required to end the conflict right away no matter what the consequences. American officials say that the actually illusory demographic issue--which is simply nonsense--means that Israel better make the best deal possible now.
Just Making Them Angry
The president believes that American allies cannot win and if they try they’ll just make the Islamists angrier. The White House, if you'll recall, even wanted to overthrow the pro-American regime in Bahrain and might have helped them replace it if the Saudis hadn't stopped them.
I am not joking. I wish I were.
Remember what the two NSC staffers said, in representing Obama policy because they deserve and may well go down in history:
“Such a move [fighting the Islamists in Egypt] would fail and probably prompt a shift to al-Qaeda type terrorist tactics by extremists in the Islamist movement in Egypt and elsewhere.”
The Obama administration, on the basis of the current CIA director John Brennan's doctrine, has given up the battle. The Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists are holding the United States for ransom. The demand for releasing (which means not attacking) the United States is the Middle East.
This is also connected to domestic politics since the Obama Administration will be largely judged by voters—including in the 2014 midterm elections—on whether they can prevent such (imaginary) attacks. The theme is consistent, just another way of protecting the American people while accumulating more votes.
It should be emphasized that, aside from everything else, this is a ridiculous U.S. strategy because the Brotherhood and Salafists haven’t even thought of this tactic. This isn't just a surrender; it's a preemptive surrender.
Related: Crazy Obama-Middle East conspiracy theory? Or is it so sane that you just blew your mind?.