Deja Vu All Over Again?

There are reports that President Obama is moving closer to arming the Syrian rebels.  Thus far we have provided only non-lethal aid.  The problem is that there aren’t really any secular rebels who have a shot at replacing Assad.  The most successful and powerful rebel groups are all Islamist, with some now pledging loyalty to Al Qaeda.

We are damned if we do and damned if we don’t in Syria.  Awful as Assad is, the viable alternatives seem as bad or worse.

Remember how we helped the Taliban fight the Russians in Afghanistan?  That didn’t turn out too well for us.

The GOP is setting up the Prez to fail whatever he does.  They are all over him for not taking immediate action in response to reports of use of sarin.  But if Syria falls into the hands of radical Islamists, they’ll curse him for that too, as they regularly do for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.  And some of the potential leaders in Syria would make Mohammed Morsi look like Thomas Jefferson.

Quote of the Day 3

“We all had faith that Morsi would be the one who would fulfill our dreams and take Egypt where we wanted it to go.  The problem is that not only has he abandoned our dream, he has gone against it. … They took our dream and implanted their own.  I am a Muslim, but I think with my own mind. … Half of me is heartbroken, and half of me is happy today.  The part that is heartbroken is because I am aware that we are entering a stage that could be a real blood bath.  And the part that is happy is because people who were completely apathetic before have now woken up and joined us.”

Ahmed Hassan, 26, quoted by Thomas Friedman, “Can God Save Egypt?,” NYT

Mitt’s Foreign Policy Is As Dumb And Dangerous As Bush’s

Thomas Friedman slams Mitt’s shallow and simplistic foreign policy speech.  From “What Romney Didn’t Say,” NYT:

“Mitt Romney gave a foreign policy speech on Monday that could be boiled down to one argument: everything wrong with the Middle East today can be traced to a lack of leadership by President Obama. If this speech is any indication of the quality of Romney’s thinking on foreign policy, then we should worry. It was not sophisticated in describing the complex aspirations of the people of the Middle East. It was not accurate in describing what Obama has done or honest about the prior positions Romney has articulated. And it was not compelling or imaginative in terms of the strategic alternatives it offered. The worst message we can send right now to Middle Easterners is that their future is all bound up in what we do. It is not. The Arab-Muslim world has rarely been more complicated and more in need of radical new approaches by us — and them.

Look at the real trends in the region. In Iraq and Afghanistan, sadly, autocracy has not been replaced with democracy, but with “elective kleptocracy.” Elective kleptocracy is what you get when you replace an autocracy with an elected government before there are accountable institutions and transparency, while huge piles of money beckon — in Iraq thanks to oil exports, and in Afghanistan thanks to foreign aid.

Meanwhile, in Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt, Iraq and Libya, we have also seen the collapse of the “Mukhabarat states” — Mukhabarat is Arabic for internal security services — but not yet the rise of effective democracies, with their own security organs governed by the rule of law. As we saw in Libya, this gap is creating openings for jihadists.

At the same time, the civil war between Sunni Muslims, led by the Saudis, and Shiite Muslims, led by Iran, is blazing as hot as ever and lies at the heart of the civil war in Syria. In addition, we also have a struggle within Sunni Islam between puritanical Salafists and more traditional Muslim Brotherhood activists. And then there is the struggle between all of these Islamist parties — who argue that “Islam is the answer” for development — and the more secular mainstream forces, who may constitute the majority in most Mideast societies but are disorganized and divided.

How does the U.S. impact a region with so many cross-cutting conflicts and agendas? We start by making clear that the new Arab governments are free to choose any path they desire, but we will only support those who agree that the countries that thrive today: 1) educate their people up to the most modern standards; 2) empower their women; 3) embrace religious pluralism; 4) have multiple parties, regular elections and a free press; 5) maintain their treaty commitments; and 6) control their violent extremists with security forces governed by the rule of law.

But when we’re talking to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt or the new government in Libya, we cannot let them come to us and say: “We need money, but right now our politics is not right for us to do certain things. Give us a pass.” We bought that line for 50 years from their dictators. It didn’t end well. We need to stick to our principles.  Emphasis added; italics in original.

Mitt’s foreign policy speech is one more reason why I’m voting for Obama no matter what, even if he spends the next two debates singing the theme song from “Sesame Street.”  Mitt, like Bush 43, lacks not only a background in foreign policy, but also any interest in it.  He’d just be led by the nose by the neo-cons on his team.  He’s got Liz Cheney now!  If she wants to shoot her ignorant mouth off on Fox, that’s fine, but I don’t want her anywhere near actual policy-making authority.

Exploiting Religion from Cairo, Egypt to Cairo, Illinois

Salman Rushdie is running around on his book tour for Joseph Anton, making the point that all the outrage about offenses to Islam, whether it’s because of a novel like his Satanic Verses or Danish or French cartoons or the Innocence of Muslims video, is not about religion, it is about politics.  It is about political leaders getting their folks wee wee’d up to make them ignore their real problems.

The GOP and Fox News are especially outraged about this use of religion to control people politically.  Hey, it takes one to know one.

In Cairo, Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood wants to distract its people from the fact that they lived in slums under Mubarak  and are living in slums under the Muslim Brotherhood.

Here at home, the party of multi-millionaires knows that there aren’t enough of them to win elections by themselves, and they also know that their interests don’t line up with those of average working people.  So they have to get the people in Cairo, Illinois (and Georgia, Nebraska, West Virginia, Ohio, and Oregon) to focus on something else and get really angry about it, so they’ll vote GOP against their own interests.

Getting Christians stirred up about Obamacare and contraception is just like getting Muslims stirred up about a video.  Before Obamacare, 29 states had these rules about insurance covering contraception, and no one cared.  Some of these states were among our most populous, like New York and California, and some were among our most conservative, like Arkansas.

I live in one of those 29 states.  I never heard a word about the state requiring insurance companies to cover contraception from my church until suddenly President Obama did it.  Suddenly they couldn’t bear to do what they were already doing because it was a violation of their religious freedom.

Yes, the outrage abroad is phony, but before we point out the splinter in the Muslims’ eyes, we should get rid of this huge beam in the eyes of our own Evangelical Christians and Catholics.

 

 

Busted!

From “Egypt, Hearing From Obama, Moves to Heal Rift From Protests,” David Kirkpatrick, Helene Cooper and Mark Landler, NYT:

“But the war of words was continuing in Cairo on Thursday.

“The United States Embassy publicly mocked the [Muslim] Brotherhood for sending out conflicting messages in its English and Arabic Twitter accounts. ‘Egyptians rise up to support Mohamed in front of the American Embassy.  Sept.  11,’ read an Arabic language post the Brotherhood sent out on the day of the attacks — one of several over the last few days emphasizing outrage at the video or calls for its censorship.

“So on Thursday, when the group sent out a message of sympathy and support from its top strategist, Khairat el-Shater, from its English-language Twitter account, the Embassy responded tartly via Twitter.

“‘Thanks,’ its message read, ‘By the way, have you checked out you own Arabic feeds?  I hope you know we read those too.'”

Unleash the Newt!

Newtie’s back — the GOP has tapped him to lead the charge against President Obama on welfare reform.  So it will be Newt v. Clinton.  I think we’ve seen this movie before, and it ended with Newtie resigning his Speakership and leaving Congress.

The thing about Newtie is that once you’ve let the Newt out of his terrarium, it can be hard to catch him and put him back in.  He’s a quick and crafty little lizard.  He’ll say what the GOP wants him to say, but he’ll embellish those talking points with his own brand of outlandishness.  Remember, Newtie’s been out there defending Michele Bachmann for going after poor Huma Abedin as a Muslim Brotherhood mole in our State Department.

I think Mitt’s lost control of his campaign.

Cantor Coddles Crazies

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) desperately wants John Boehner’s job as Speaker of the House.  He is pure ambition, with no concern for truth, fairness, or decency.  To further his ambition, he’s all too happy to coddle the many crazy members of his caucus, like Michele Bachmann.

Boehner criticized Bachmann’s absurd accusations that Hillary Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin is secretly working for the Muslim Brotherhood, calling those accusations “pretty dangerous” and saying that Abedin “has a sterling character.”

But Cantor?  Asked by Charlie Rose what he thought about the Bachmann/Abedin shamefulness, Cantor took the coward’s way out, choosing popularity over patriotism, saying, “I think that her concern was about the security of the country.”

Cantor is unfit ever to be Speaker of the House, he shouldn’t be Majority Leader, and he shouldn’t even be a congressman.

 

Bachmann’s Opponent Talks Camels

Michele Bachmann’s bizarre claims that Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s top aide, is an agent for the Muslim Brotherhood are hurting her in her home district.

Jim Graves, who is running against Bachmann for Congress, said that even Republicans in the district are turning against her:  “A lot of Republicans say, ‘This is the straw that broke the camel’s back.  We just can’t afford to have this uncertainty and fear mongering and McCarthyism.'”

Uh-oh, he’s talking about camels?  I’m sure Bachmann will take that as a sign that he must be working for the Muslim Brotherhood too.