The Hill, noting that the New York Times “editorial board opined that it was ‘past time’ for Obama to reverse decades of unquestioning support for Egypt’s military,” reports:
Some experts think the damage is already done.
“People on different sides – whether it’s Arab governments or opposition groups – don’t take the U.S. seriously,” said Shadi Hamid, the director of research for the Brookings Doha Center who has lived in the region for the past four years and was in Egypt this week. “There is a widespread perception that Obama is a weak, feckless leader. That’s not just Republican talking points – it’s what people here in the region actually think and say on a regular basis.”
Hamid said there’s an “emerging consensus that Obama has gotten the Middle East wrong” because he’s convinced the United States only has limited power to shape events in the region. As a result, Hamid told The Hill, Obama missed a chance to embrace the Arab Spring by strongly opposing Bahrain’s crackdown on protesters, intervening early on in Syria’s uprising against Bashar Assad and labeling Morsi’s ouster a coup.
“It sends a very dangerous message if the U.S. is not even willing to respect its own law on matters of national security,” Hamid said. “The fact that we can’t call things what they are makes us a laughing-stock in the region. That’s why people don’t care about what Obama says and his rhetoric.”
The White House declined to comment. [Continue reading…]
Actually, Obama is quite right: the US does have very little ability to affect outcomes. Just read the previous article by Nafeez Ahmed if you doubt this. US “engagement” in the region has produced little but body-counts. Disengagement, particularly given domestic problems, is only sane.
The long-standing pretension of American presidents and those around them, is that the president is always supposed to make things happen. The worst thing imaginable, supposedly, is an action that has no tangible outcome. What’s strange about this view, however, is that it assigns essentially no value to the symbolic act of doing the right thing.
As soon as the Egyptian military started engaging in massacres and before people were being slaughtered in the hundreds, the United States should have cut off military aid. It might not have saved any lives, but at least the U.S. would not have ended up looking like a totally ineffectual and guilty bystander.
When & whether he should have cut that aid off, in reality, he can’t, because Israeli leader Bibi wants the present situation to be. Surprised that the McCain & Lindsy, the staunch Israeli firsters would call for those cuts. Could this be a sign of cracks in the AIPAC stranglehold upon the U.S. Congress/Administration?
Just to be clear: the idea of Obama doing the right thing is purely an abstract form of speculation unconnected to the real world.