Sunday, July 01, 2012

Jack Kelly Foreign Policy, and other fantasies ...

The first thing to say about today's Jack Kelly column “Dangerous naivete: Obama's policies allow radicals to rise in the Middle East” is that he wants you to change your view of Barack Obama depending what type of politics we are talking about. The Barack Obama who is masterminding the voter fraud to steal is an evil genius, while today's Barack Obama is a naive moron stupidly encouraging our enemies. Kelly starts with this "Since 2009, the percentages of Middle Easterners who have a favorable opinion of America, and of President Obama, have declined by 40 percent and 37 percent, respectively, according to Pew's annual poll." (Pew has an annual poll of Middle Easterners?). Kelly goes on to say that the "Arab Spring" has produced new breeding grounds for terrorists.

Personally I think that Middle Easterners see an America that in many ways is the same as America was under George Bush. We are killing civilians and we are still supporting the puppet governments of Iraq and Afghanistan that we cobbled together after we allowed better alternatives to be literally killed off. They don't like us because they see what we doing. Obama has turned out not only to not reach out to the Middle East, he is making thing worse. Of course they’re ticked off.

But Jack Kelly sees Barack Obama as a wide eyed innocent, blundering through the world thinking everyone who says they are our friend are actually our friends. Kelly sort of conveniently forgets the assassination program he mentioned Friday in an online column.

The thing is, Kelly’s world view apparently includes the idea that we can control the governments of other countries. Kelly talks about Carter’s naiveté concerning Khomeini and Obama’s naiveté concerning Eqypt’s President-elect Mohammad Morsi. It’s true that we were essentially able to install the Shah of Iran and various governments of South Vietnam in the past, but look how well that turned out for us in the long run. Kelly apparently thinks (or wants us to think) we still should be able to do this, or at least wants to blame Barack Obama for not doing it.

Mind you, Jack Kelly is not talking about installing democracy in the Middle East. In fact, our goals have never been about installing democracy in the Middle East, unless you were taken in by George W Bush’s claims about Iraq, made some time after we had actually invaded and hadn’t found anything (much) in the way of WMD’s and found that rather than Iraq already being involved with al Qaeda, our invasion had brought them in. Dubya decided that the real (third) reason we had invaded Iraq was to bring democracy to Iraq, which would then be an example to the rest of the Middle East. By the way, how well did that work out.

I mention all that because of Kelly’s line in his column – “The utter failure to date of his outreach efforts hasn't shaken Mr. Obama's confidence that the force of his personality will convert Islamists into democrats.”. Mr Kelly shows that selective memory, What he accuses Obama of is pretty close to what Dubya was supposed to be trying.

As I mentioned, Kelly’s world view apparently includes the notion that we can control who runs countries, at least in Middle East. Kelly suggests that Syria’s Assad and Libya’s Qaddafi (when he was alive), while brutal and supporters of terrorism, are/were “secular dictators who accepted limits ignored by ardent jihadists.” Is Jack Kelly really suggesting that we control Assad?

I remember the Star Trek episode where a history professor from earth established a form of Nazism on some underdeveloped planet. I suppose in some debating society venue there are arguments to be made for fascism as an efficient form of government, or Bashar al-Assad as a lesser evil. But surely we have learned from Saddam Hussein and Hosni Mubarak that our dictators do no better and in the end probably worse for countries, plus often end up creating lots of ill will towards us in a country we think is important to us (see Iranian government)(you don’t think Saddam was one of ours? See the Reagan and first Bush adminitrations).

By the way< Jack Kelly trots out the line about the Nazi’s “mentoring” the Muslim Brotherhood. I have read in other places that it occurred, but I don’t believe there is any current influence. But it is a powerful image for Jack Kelly, especially with Israel being right there (a little gratuitous, n’est pas?).

So isn’t Jack Kelly showing us his own naiveté about the Middle East? Take a country like Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan or most others (including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait). Over the years that they have been ruled by kings or dictators, what has been their experience with democracy? How many democratic traditions have they built up? Well, OK, you say, what political traditions do they have … none, except being told what to do. At best the dictator was unable to totally suppress Islam. Which means that when democracy is thrust on an Eqypt or (to some extent) an Iraq, Islam is their only cultural tradition which can be linked to politics. Politicians able to show some links to Islam have a built in advantage.

But does all this mean we should advocate (or subvert, or whatever), as Kelly says, for “secular dictators”? That strikes me as unsustainable in the long run, and since we never know when the dictatorships will unravel, there is no way to help prepare for transition to some other government. Democracy (as we are finding ourselves – Citizens United) is not necessarily stable or sustainable, but still surely it is worth the effort.

Will the Muslim Brotherhood cause Egypt to run amok, causing problems in the region? Honestly I don’t know, all I can say is that in the last twenty five years, the region has had some problems from both Iran (theocracy) and Iraq (secular dictatorship). The region doesn’t have enough experience with democracy, but Kelly’s preferred secular dictatorships really haven’t done any better than the religious dictatorships. Jack Kelly’s assessment of Barack Obama as naïve suffers from its own form of naiveté.

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