Obama and Egypt: Nobody’s Happy


egipt The Left will excoriate Obama for not rushing in to support the protesters, always assumed to be democratic reformers in the mold of Thomas Jefferson, and the Right, for turning his back on a time-tested ally.

Journalist Sam Stein’s article last Tuesday bemoans how Obama’s not making anyone happy with his reaction to the


What President Obama did was to wait, watch and gather information, information updated by the hour. NSC spokesman Tom Viettor says, „We have people in the State Department in particular that have long-established contacts in the region that watch what their friends are tweeting or putting up on Facebook, literally,” he said. „We talk to press in the region and get assessments from them. We talk to U.S.-based reporters who have gone over there. Our embassy has reached out to as broad a cross-section of government officials, NGO activists, anyone who they can talk to, people even in the business community … There is a vast web of interactions that are feeding a 24-hour cycle of updating information.”


What a novel idea. Get informed, then act. Stein complains that Obama is “forever one step behind” events in Egypt. Well, of course he is. Egypt is not a chess game, in which you move a piece according to strategy. Unlike game pieces, humans will push back. The most universal critique of US foreign policy is that, at moments like this, the US reacts according to ideology, not fact. We either embrace reformers who turn out to be dictators, or embrace dictators, our old “friends” who are enemies of their own people. What President Obama seeks to do is get a feel for what is truly happening in Egypt before rushing forward with a plan, a plan which could create disaster if we back the wrong horse.


Today is Obama’s first Press Conference since the Egypt crisis began, but the slings and arrows won’t start for another day or two, when the Palin-folk will accuse him of being soft on Jihadists, and the Left will tell him he ignored pleas from Egypt’s enlightened reformers. Well, here’s what White House Senior Advisor David Axelrod has to say about that: „You want to respond in a way that’s thoughtful and constructive, and sometimes with foreign policy, the most constructive answer isn’t necessarily the most visceral or satisfying.” I think President Obama got it right.


 Al Bundy