No system of government can or should be imposed by one nation by any other. That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, . . .
President Barack Obama, Cairo Address, June 4, 2009
Would it be possible for Obama to have made any clearer his repudiation of the democracy agenda - and by extension, his return to "real politik" whereby we will accept the tyrannical governments of the Middle East as we find them. Does Obama realize that doing precisely that is one of the central causes for anti-American sentiment in the Middle East. Perhaps he should listen to Michael Sheuer, who explains it in no undertain terms here. Or perhaps Condi Rice, who would tell him that:
For 60 years, . . . the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in the [Middle East]. And we achieved neither. Now we are taking a different course. We are supporting the democratic aspirations of the people.
Indeed, to go one further, does Obama realize that it is the repressive regimes in the Middle East that provide the incubators for Islamic terrorists.
There are only two basic forms of government possible in this world, yet Obama disingenuously hides his retreat from promotion of democracy behind the canard that "each nation" gives expression to the will of the people in some unique way. That is utterly vacuous. Either you have an actual democracy with broad rights of sufferage or you have some form of tyranny. There are no other options. And history has taught us, if nothing else, that democracies, even rough and imperfect ones, have far greater long term stability and are far less aggressive than any form of tyranny.
What in fact we are seeing from Obama in his quotes above are multiculturalism and moral equivalence instead of discriminatory value judgments based on facts and history. According to Obama, all forms of government are apparently of equal value and, in "their own way," reflect the "will of the people." He is in dire need of a civics lesson it would seem. The history of the Middle East is not a history of "the will of the people" being manifest by their governments. To the contrary, its the history of tyrants and dictators, of brutal coups and blood in the streets. It is the history of a city in Syria leveled and its population erased. Its the history of chemical attacks on villages. It is the history of entire populations terrorized. It is anything but the "will of the people."
Indeed, there is only one country in the middle of the Middle East that truly reflects, today, the "will of the people." It is the nascent democracy in Iraq. And instead of talking that up and stoking the fires of freedom, Obama quite literally ignored Iraq during his speech, but to announce that, in accordance with his high moral standards, he would abandon Iraq by 2012. Iraq is a beacon of hope to many oppressed people, not the least of whom is numbered the people of Iran. Yet to Obama, for purely partisan reasons, it is an experiment better forgotten, and the sooner the better.
And unfortunately, Obama has decided to cease promoting democracy just when it seems to be taking hold over the repressive ideologies of the Islamic parties throughout the Middle East. That was the subject of a recent WSJ article, discussing not merely the gains of secular parties at the polls, but the gains of women in free and fair elections.
Only one nation in the Middle East must be truly happy with Obama's walkback of democracy and walk away from Iraq. That country is Iran. As I've point out many times before, Iraq, because of its democracy, because of its secular Shia government, and because of its adherence to the traditional Shia concept of quietism, poses a mortal threat to Iran. Yet now Obama has virtually declared open season on Iraq in a time certain. And indeed, given his stated unwillingness to "impose" a government on any country, that logic also dictates that Obama would not intervene to stop the morphing of any government from one form to another. Thus if Iran succeeds short of open warfare in changing Iraq's government to align with its own, they can have a reasonable expectation that it will elicit no response from President Obama.
And a final world must be said about one other country today in the Middle East that must have been incredibly sorry to hear Obama's speech. Lebanon - a country with an imperfect democracy, but a country on the verge of losing even that. Lebanon's Cedar Revolution brought a fragile democratic government to power. And Iran yet again stands by, looking to break that government and ensconce their proxy, Hezbollah, into power. They are spending masses of money in the upcoming election. And what hope has Obama given to the people of Lebanon? He ignored them. With Iran practically occupying the country and Obama ignoring it, they can have no hope.
Obama's faux moralizing, his reliance on multicultural ethos, and his failure to see the importance of promoting democracy in the Middle East virtually assures dark days ahead. Those days are dark both for the people living under tyrannical rule and for us.
Summary - Obama's Cairo Address: What We Needed, What We Got
Part 1 - Obama's Cairo Address: Hiding From The Existential Problems Of The Muslim World
Part 2 - Obama's Cairo Address: A Walk Back From Democracy & Iraq
Part 3 - Obama's Cairo Address: Obama Calls For Women's Rights While Glossing Over Discrimination & Violence
Part 4 - Obama's Cairo Address: Nukes, Iran & Weakness Writ Large
Part 5 - Obama's Cairo Address: Israel & Palestine – A Little Good, A Lot Of Outrageousness
Part 6 - Obama's Cairo Address: Islam's Tradition Of Religious Tolerance?
Part 7 - Obama's Cairo Address: The Dangerous Whitewashing Of History