Submitted to the Post-Crescent:
“It will be the policy of the United States to promote reform across the region, and to support transitions to democracy,” said President Obama to the Middle East on May 19. He said America would now favor “the street vendor in Tunisia more than the raw power of the dictator.” This is little more than opportunistic hogwash.
Why has the president reached out to to the leaders of the insurgencies? Because he has to. Egypt is a case in point. Obama openly supported Mubarak up until it was obvious to everyone that the regime would fall, and then his support shifted to democracy. There was no principle behind it, only necessity.
The headlines announce we will be providing aid to Egypt. What does that prove? Under Mubarak, Egypt was the number two recipient of American foreign aid, behind Israel. Whether democracy or dictatorship, your country is eligible for foreign aid.
Yes, harsh words were spoken about Yemen, Libya and Syria. But what of Saudi Arabia? Does hypocrisy speak any louder than when Obama pushes sanctions on Syria but quietly ignores the Saudi kingdom, a repressive dictatorship that was the breeding ground for most of the 9/11 hijackers?
While support for fledgeling democracies is good and should be applauded even when the motivation is dubious, the acceptance of Saudi influence is unforgivable. They reach out to us with one hand offering business deals while the other hand shoves a dagger into our backs.
And their influence should not be underestimated. If Yemen were to fall, the most likely inheritors would be pro-Saudi politicians with a penchant for radical Islam. We swat the flies of the Middle East while ignoring the elephant in the room. One cannot morally praise democracy while supporting the people who repress it.