We seem again to be learning the wrong lessons of the significance of the Middle East upheavals. Last Thursday, the Washington Post had a editorial entitled “Last on Libya,” which wrongly criticized President Obama for what they characterized as “President Obama’s response to a dictator’s atrocities.”
The fact is that any president has to weigh not only long term but also short term impacts of what he says as well as its costs. I personally would have desired a stronger response to the actions of Gaddafi, but as a former diplomat, I also know that he had to balance the safety of American citizens and embassy personnel still in Libya with how best to respond to fast moving events. Continue reading
Recently there has been a considerable debate among pundits, bloggers and wonks about where America should stand on the issue of democracy in Egypt, and for that matter in the Middle East and elsewhere. That debate has been fought often as a struggle between to poles: interests verses values.
On one side those that emphasize our “interests” appear to be saying we should stick with the old order and Mubarak. They seek stability and predictability above democracy and the aspirations of the people in the streets of Egypt. They say that are in the long tradition of the “realist” school of foreign policy. Yet in other contexts the conservatives that espouse this view about Egypt have criticized the Obama administration for not giving enough of a push for democracy especially in places like China, Cuba, Russia, and North Korea. Continue reading
As events unfold on a daily even hourly basis in Egypt and other countries, this may be a good time to look at their wider implications for global security, American interests, and stability and peace in the region and beyond.
Yesterday’s reign of premeditated violence by the Mubarak regime was a turning point – not for, but against Mubarak and perhaps for his legacy and appointed new leaders. The lessons for other governments in the region and beyond must be profound and disheartening.
Authoritarian regimes exist not just in the Middle East, but also in places like Burma, The Ivory Coast, Sudan, Iran, Zimbabwe, and yes ,China, and to a degree in Russia. Within the Middle East and near regions they naturally feel the winds of change most strongly.