“I have enormous sympathy for the foreign policy of George H.W. Bush. I don’t have a lot of complaints about their handling of Desert Storm [the 1991 Iraq war]. I don’t have a lot of complaints with their handling of the fall of the Berlin Wall.”
“This is not an argument between Democrats and Republicans,” Mr Obama told David Brooks, a moderate conservative New York Times’ columnist. “It’s an argument between ideology and foreign policy realism.”
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Barack Obama May 16th, 2008 The Guardian
When I asked Obama on the campaign trail in 2008, which President’s foreign policy he admired, he immediately chose George H.W. Bush, a President known as a foreign policy realist, whose watchwords were prudence, cost-effectiveness, diplomacy, and restraint. James Baker, Bush’s Secretary of State, has admitted to approving of Obama’s approach to international relations.
The upcoming debate will likely have a large focus on Libya. Although, the issue is concerning, there is another issue which is far more concerning. Libya’s next door neighbor is by far the largest populated Arab country, known as Egypt. The Administration’s handling of the issue has been an epic failure, as I explain below. I planned on writing an extremely lengthy article detailing numerous foreign policy failures in the Middle East months before the 9/11 attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. On that note, one of the terrorists behind the attack, escaped from Egyptian prison, right after Hosni Mubarak fell. I never got a chance, but felt the need to at least address the most frightening issue in the region. I could write thousands of words on this, as there is so much to mention, but I do not have the time. I have no idea who will win the election, and I doubt voters in swing states like Ohio and Iowa will be deciding their vote based on a country 6,000 miles away, but I feel the need to address this issue and lay out some facts.
Unfortunately, this issue is coming home to roost, as I thought would happen long before the attacks in Libya occurred. I want to mention that I write this as someone who hates conspiracy theorists i.e. Barack Obama is a secret muslim, not born in the US etc. I think these theories are unhealthy and sour any truthful criticism of this administration. I also hate terms like liberal and conservative, as I think they box people into certain ideologies, which fosters an unhealthy ideology driven debate. I use two things when it comes to politics 1. facts and 2. common sense. I was rooting for Jon Huntsman in the primaries, as I thought he was the only true realist running. I do not like terms so let me explain what I mean.
What is a realist, and what is a realist in respect to foreign policy?
A realist is someone who understands that the world is complex, and we cannot live in a kumbaya world. George W. Bush’s attempt to bring democracy to Iraq was an epic failure of awful proportions. George H.W. Bush had a different foreign policy. He understood that the world is not a fair place. We cannot magically make countries become Democracies, and decisions like war must be carefully considered, one reason he did not invade Iraq. Additionally, we have to work sometimes with people who are evil. North Korea would fall apart without China’s support. I dare anyone to read about the concentration camps in North Korea and not get sick to their stomach, a sickening story originally posted on the Guardian can be found here. Yet China is our largest trading partner. A pure idealist would oppose having anything to do with China. In Fact, that was American Foreign Policy before Richard Nixon.
Barack Obama promised to have a realistic foreign policy approach, but unfortunately, he has out-bushed George W. Bush. The case cannot be more clear than it is in Egypt, where Barack Obama has championed ‘democracy.’ Barack Obama seems to be under some spell, which forces him to believe that the Muslim Brotherhood and Mohamed Mursi are interested in democracy.
I must note that the George W. Bush idealists were also supporters of Barack Obama’s policies on Egypt. The Wall Street Journal op-ed pages supported him, John McCain did, as did Mitt Romney. Even, President W. Bush stated his support for the Arab Spring, which I will refer to as the Wahabi Spring (more on that term below). For those who do like labels, one can say that Barack Obama has joined the ‘neo-cons.’
Hosni Mubarak fell from power in early 2011. President Barack Obama placed heavy pressure on Hosni Mubarak to resign. Saudi Arabia, hardly a moderate country, was furious with Barack Obama’s decision. The Saudis knew that the Muslim Brotherhood would be the biggest winner, and even Saudi Arabia considers the group extreme. There are so many examples to show that the Muslim Brotherhood is an extremist organization. I cannot spend pages on the issue, but the fact that Yusuf Qaradawi is (basically) their spiritual leader speaks for itself. People can read more about Yusuf Qaradawi’s views. I consider anyone who believes the Muslim Brotherhood a moderate organization is either misinformed, a Wahabi, or someone who is such a believer in Obama, they will never admit any wrong-doing.
I will address Mohamed Mursi specificity and more below. Americans think the Muslim Brotherhood is some political party. Americans know you go to the DMV and fill out a card and can register as a Democrat or Republican, it is a simple 1,2,3 process. That is NOT at all how the Muslim Brotherhood works. It takes many years to become a member of the Brotherhood , this article from Foreign Affairs, states that it takes 4.5 years. It depends on the level achieved, but it could take up to ten years to reach the highest echelon in the Muslim Brotherhood. Mohamed Mursi was one of the top leaders of the Brotherhood, before running for President. If you think a 61 year old man who ran the Brotherhood decided all of the sudden to disavow his entire life’s ideology overnight, I have a bridge to sell you.
After Hosni Mubarak fell, Egypt entered a period of chaos, from which it has not emerged. The economy is plummeting, and there is talk of devaluing the pound. What has been consistent, is President Obama’s continued support of the Muslim Brotherhood. This support started before the Wahabi Spring, when Barack Obama allowed the leaders of the group to attend the President’s famous speech in Cairo.
Before the Presidential elections in Egypt, the Army held power. The army has been a reliable ally of America since the Sinai accords. However, the Barack Obama Administration put repeated and strong pressure on the army to give up control. This was despite the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood was now clearly the most powerful civilian force.. After President Mohamed Mursi defeated Ahmad Shafiq in the elections, Barack Obama again insisted that the military give over power to the Muslim Brotherhood. I must note that we are now certain that Ahmad Shafiq did in fact win the elections. Why the media did not report this, I do not know. However, we have been a step ahead of most outlets on Egypt for the past few years. Maybe the story will come out in a few years.
I assume most readers will not believe this, since the story is so shocking. I will say one thing, everyone knew the Egyptian elections were fixed (one example here). That is why it took so long to announce the results. The only reason people now accept them, is because Ahmad Shafiq is trying to resist arrest abroad, and the issue has died down.
I must also note, we do not cover politics much, only occasionally. Why do we cover certain countries like Egypt and Pakistan? Because we have excellent sources there, i.e. when we announced who the next PM of Pakistan was before any media outlet in the world did. However, let’s assume I am lying or wrong, and Mohamed Mursi did win.
Since Barack Obama’s first moves in Egypt, the idealists have been shifting their arguments, as they have been proven totally wrong repeatedly. Many of these so called experts deserve no credibility, yet they are given it, so we have to address their folly.
I would say the timeline of their arguments went as follows:
First, people actually believed that Egypt would become a thriving Democracy. One example is the self-proclaimed expert on Egypt, and Pulitzer Prize winner, Thomas Friedman, who said in February 2011, “The message coming out of Cairo will be: We tried Nasserism; we tried Islamism; and now we’re trying democracy.”
Then people woke up to reality. They said it will take time for Egypt to become a democracy, people were semi-jubilant.
Then people realized the military was not stepping aside, and the Muslim Brotherhood was the only organized unit. They said the Turkish model would be the best for Egypt. That model is now turning into a disaster, but that is a topic for another time.
Then, as I predicted, (although it happened much earlier than I expected) Mohamed Mursi pulled a coup in a matter of hours. What took Erdogan of Turkey 10 years, and Adolf Hitler (after already being in power for five years) one month, took Mohamed Mursi far less time, as he neutered the army in just days.
Some people were now actually frightened , besides Barack Obama and ‘neo-cons’, who commended the move.
The new argument was, things are not quick. It takes a while for a country to become a democracy. It might take decades. Basically,” we are clueless, so we’ll give some timeline way out in the future”.
Even this argument is false.
It is true that transitioning from a Dictatorship to Democracy is not a quick process, however, there is a big BUT. Egypt has never been a democracy. Maybe Egypt will become a Democracy in 70 years or whenever.
Let us look at Russia, I am not an expert on Russian history but to my knowledge, Russia has never been a democracy, except for a brief period in 1918, and in the 1990s, when a drunkard was the President. Maybe Russia will become a Democracy, but tell that to the people who lived (and 10s of millions who died) during Stalin’s rule from the early 1930s to 1953 in the Ukraine or Poland. Or, I can tell you about my grandfather, who was sent to the Gulag for no reason, and the death rate was 90% in less than a year. Even if it did become a democracy, would it have been worth the millions of lives lost, and those who suffered?
I am not criticizing Russian people, I have roots to the country, and I am extremely proud that my Grandfather fought with the Russian army against the Nazis. I am only using Russia as an example.
And, if the Russian people did now revolt against the Government and the army sided with Putin, do not expect foreign military intervention. That would be global suicide.
Two points, which supporters of Barack Obama (many of whom have already been discredited for being so wrong already) sometimes bring up now: 1. Hosni Mubarak is old, and the people were revolting, what could Obama do? 2. Perhaps Mohamed Mursi is a moderate?
In regards to point #1, there is some validity. Hosni Mubarak may have been forced to give up power. However, the US turning its back on Hosni Mubarak was a large part of his downfall, and that is really when the military defected. Hosni Mubarak faced extremely large challenges during his reign since 1979, but never came close to falling. The whole response was chaotic, and even the Obama Administration admitted it was a ‘learning curve.’ Maybe if more time was spent on basic intel available to the public about Egypt, the Barack Obama Administration could have responded better. Additionally, the Barack Obama Administration could have encouraged a more organized transition. Instead, it insisted immediate power be given to the Muslim Brotherhood, which brings us to point #2.
Mohamed Mursi is no moderate, and is an outright liar. Also, contrary to claims he has left the Brotherhood, official tweets from the Muslim Brotherhood quote Mohamed Mursi on a regular basis and post his announcements. We addressed the Muslim Brotherhood being extremist above. A bit more below on Mursi’s moves to create a dictatorship.
Since Mohamed Mursi has become President, he has embarked on a road to dictatorship. Mohamed Mursi now has more power than Hosni Mubarak, according to many analysts. He has ordered the arrest of Ahmad Shafiq, journalists, and is trying US citizens living in California for insulting him. He also has already broken the Sinai Accords, and therefore, should lose American aid. People can Google articles about him arresting journalists, opponents, trying to take over the Judiciary, and installing radical Wahabis as Governors in Egypt. I cannot cover every point. If I wanted to become a dictator I would be taking the exact steps Mohamed Mursi is taking.
Despite a one million man army and a large police force, Mohamed Mursi did nothing to prevent the American embassy being besieged. The seige lasted for several hours, how about a question on this issue? After being criticized for not condemning the attack, Mohamed Mursi issued a statement which mostly blamed a video for inciting the violence, and barely condemning the attack. Barack Obama then sent a letter to Mohamed Mursi, thanking him for ‘protecting the U.S. Embassy.’ Additionally, President Barack Obama has decided to give Egypt a one billion dollar bailout. This goes beyond realist or idealist, this is just plain stupid.
What will Egypt look like? Now it is hard to tell. On the current projectory you can imagine a more radical version of Saudi Arabia. I also have contacts who have known the leaders of the military for decades, but Mohamed Mursi is arresting many of them, so more of my sources are gone. The army has large control over the economy and has some leverage, but we have basically lost all leverage.
And, if anyone thinks our $1.3 billion in aid is leverage, they are not thinking ahead. Qatar and other countries can and will outmatch us. They are already investing $18 billion in Egypt to help the economy. But Mohamed Mursi will play along to get American aid, since it seems to be that every time he over steps his boundaries we let it slide ‘in the interests of national security.’ Despite promises for billions from other countries, an unconditional $1.3 billion a year, plus the chance we will increase it are too good to pass up.
The worst part about this might be not Egypt, but that no one will trust America ever again. If there is a revolt in Saudi Arabia, a real possibility, especially with the situation in Jordan, what will America do? No one pays attention to the fact that Saudi Arabia and Jordan share borders. The situation in Jordan is getting worse by the day. If the Saudi people rise up, will we support the aging Saudi King? Who will we support? We work with dictatorships across the globe. A clear REALIST policy/strategy is needed, Barack Obama does not have one. Additionally, each country must be treated on a case by case basis. Saying we will not speak to countries, or saying we will speak to all countries (as Barack Obama stated) is a naive idealist approach. Furthermore, as mentioned above, who will trust us anymore?
Barack Obama has left the middle east in confusion and chaos, and the result is that if there is an uprising, leaders will fight to the death. The picture of Mubarak on trial in a cage was a lesson for Assad, Qaddafi, King Abdullah in Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. That picture will forever be on the minds of dictators when a rebellion does start, immediately move to suppress it. It will result in either a more brutal dictatorship, or a large scale conflict, costing thousands of lives. Saudi Arabia has a large Shia population in some of the oil rich regions, where Iran would love to form a revolt. Although, Saudi Arabia is not a sectarian mess like Syria, it could lead to sectarian violence, Sunni versus Shia. So, Abdullah would either become more brutal, or thousands of people will die. America and Europe would not be able to wipe their hands clean.
And for those who say you do not know a country without visiting it, I guarantee you I know more about all the major European players in WWII i.e. Germany, Russia, Poland etc, than 99% of Europeans. Besides, who says I have not been there?
And who are the biggest losers? Muslims. My friends are furious at what Barack Obama is doing. This is confirmed by polls in every Muslim country. They see us starting wars and helping extremists (Wahabis Al-Hadithis-the exact meaning is complicated, but basically its what Saudi Arabia’s clerics believe in), the moderate Muslims are being decimated by these policies. Since the brotherhood is the only organized movement in these countries, when we topple Governments, who takes over? It is a matter of putting two plus two together. I can state from personal experience, that moderate Muslims are enraged with our policies in countries like Egypt, Libya, Morocco, etc.
Will Mitt Romney be better? I do not know, but the current path we are on will only make things worse, and with Mitt Romney there is a at least a chance of a different policy. He should discuss more foreign policy specifics. I disagree with Mitt Romney’s ‘America leading from behind argument.’ If the role America will play in the world is like the role Barack Obama played in Egypt, it would be much better to stay out completely. However, Barack Obama’s policies have been an epic failure and he has shown no indication that he will change his policy on Egypt or other countries in the region. This is one of the reasons why I am endorsing Mitt Romney for President. It is more a protest vote against Obama’s policies than a pro-Mitt Romney vote, but this path is unsustainable. Obama’s foreign policy has been one of George Bush. Except it has been #43 not #41.
Barack Obama, with some good justification, says that the economy cannot recover as quickly as people expect. However, the damage done in Egypt, which will last far longer and could be permanent, was entirely the doing of his administration. Congress has close to zero control over foreign policy these days. I now have no idea how the mess we helped create in Egypt could be fixed.
I hope to cover Pakistan and the Osama Bin Laden raid; Barack Obama’s supposed best foreign policy success, in-depth, with a realist point of view. That outcome produced an enormous amount of negative consequences, which the media has barely covered. I actually think that Myanmar was likely Barack Obama’s biggest foreign policy success, and I commend him for the realist approach being taken.
In summary, the past four years of Barack Obama has gone from realist to idealist to close to lunacy on Egypt. Here is what the situation is now, as opposed to four years ago.
1. We have toppled many allies who were staunchly secular and anti-wahabi. They kept the terrorists under control.
2. We have now installed extremist Wahabi Governments in many countries, but most importantly Egypt.
3. The first four American lives of the Wahabi Spring have occurred in Libya, this unfortunately is only the tip of the iceberg.
4. Our allies in other countries fighting terrorists no longer trust us.
5. We are far more despised among the Arab (and the general Muslim) world than we were four years ago.
With that, I will end off and state that Mitt Romney should go for the jugular and hit Barack Obama hard on his Achilles heel, which is Egypt.
P.S. I will try (time permitting) to answer anyone who challenges my argument, because to date, I have argued with some extremely bright people who are die hard Barack Obama fans, and none have been able to refute my arguments on Egypt.