web analytics
July 8, 2015 / 21 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


The Powerlessness Excuse: Debunking the Claim that Obama Could Not Influence the ‘Arab Spring’

While the U.S. had only so much influence over the Middle East during Obama’s term, that does not change the fact that it did have considerable influence.
Barack Obama at Cairo University

Barack Obama at Cairo University

Visit Rubin Reports.

One argument we will be increasingly hearing is that President Barack Obama couldn’t have done anything to change events in the Middle East. This is ironic of course because when things were going well he wanted to take credit as the inspiration for the “Arab Spring.”

Let’s remember that the president began with three acts that foreshadowed what was to come. He gave a speech in Cairo in which Muslim Brotherhood leaders were seated at the front, thus making it impossible for Egyptian government officials to attend. Obama thus not only declared himself on the side of the opposition but of the Islamist opposition.

What’s even more important but never noticed was something critical Obama did. In discussing the Middle East and the Arabic-speaking world he exalted Islamic identity. Remember that for six decades national, i.e., Arab, identity had dominated. True, it was used by dictatorships and for demagogic, anti-American purposes.

Now, however, here was an American president declaring that religious identity should dominate. This was an action against both the existing regimes but also against the moderate opposition forces.

After the demonstrations in Egypt began, in January 2011, the U.S. State Department, with the approval of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, advocated a policy in line with traditional U.S. strategy. They would work with the military to institute reforms and more freedom while jettisoning the aged, ineffective President Husni Mubarak. But they opposed the dismantling of the regime.

The White House rejected that approach and publicly declared its desire for Egypt’s fundamental transformation. Anyone who knew Egypt should have and could have predicted this meant Islamist dominance. Yet the administration rejected the idea that this might happen. Indeed, without being asked, Obama publicly stated that he had no problem with a Muslim Brotherhood government taking power. Obama deliberately didn’t consult with the leaders of Israel, Jordan, or Saudi Arabia because he didn’t want to hear their warnings about the risks he was taking and their opposition to what he was doing. He had already decided that a Brotherhood regime would be his preferred outcome.

By such actions, Obama conveyed to the military that it could not expect U.S. support and made it impossible for the generals to try to retain control over events. Indeed, in the following months, U.S. policy under Obama’s direction constantly criticized the military and called for a quick transition.

But that did not mean that the Obama Administration supported the moderate opposition. Reportedly, U.S. programs that helped prepare political forces for elections and taught them lessons about organizing were directed to the Brotherhood, not the liberals. There was certainly no systematic effort to help the moderates. Indeed, in briefings to Congress and the media literally every day in 2011 and throughout 2012, the Obama Administration—under the president’s supervision—whitewashed the Brotherhood as a moderate organization. Anti-American speeches by Brotherhood leaders, calls for Jihad against Israel, extremist actions, and support for violence against U.S. soldiers in Iraq were all ignored. The best known example was intelligence director James Clapper’s declaration that the Brotherhood was a secular, moderate group.

What America says and does has more influence in the region than many Americans think. If local forces fear the United States or think it involved in conspiracies against them (rightly or wrongly) that influences their behavior. They act more cautiously. Moderates and anti-Islamist military officers may be encouraged or demoralized to become more active and tough. In Obama’s case, he persuaded the anti-Islamist forces that he was on the other side and that they had no chance of winning.

Therefore, while of course the main determinant factors took place in Egypt, U.S. influence was considerable but was deployed to help the Brotherhood. If Obama had backed the Egyptian army it probably would have retained control, even while granting a lot more freedom and a role for elected authorities. If Obama had backed the moderates, they probably would have done much better in the elections.

So while, of course, the U.S. government and Obama are only responsible in part for what happened in Egypt, they did have real influence and that was provided to anti-American, radical, and antisemitic forces.

There are those who want to focus on the idea that this was on purpose because of Obama’s own views and nature. Such ideas are not provable and in a real sense aren’t important. What is important is to show that Obama’s actions were objectively against U.S. interests, made peace in the region less likely, and contributed toward creating new dictatorships.

About the Author: Professor Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. See the GLORIA/MERIA site at www.gloria-center.org.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Powerlessness Excuse: Debunking the Claim that Obama Could Not Influence the ‘Arab Spring’”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Yeshiva boys learn Torah together at Beit Midrash Derech Chaim.  Due to their participation in a pre-army intelligence program, the IDF requires their identities to remain secret.
Exclusive: First IDF Cyber-Defense Program Opens at Yeshiva
Latest Indepth Stories
Terms of Surrender

Dear Pres. Obama, A “deal” in which one side makes all the concessions is, of course, a “surrender.”

Michael Oren, Israel's Former Ambassador to the United States

ALLY is a terrific read because Oren has a mission: Defending&protecting the Jewish State of Israel.

George Soros: No friend of Israel

George Soros: “European anti-Semitism is the result of the policies of Israel and the United States”

President Obama

Sources say seemingly irreconcilable differences between the 2 main parties, Washington and Tehran.

Instead of accepting reality, the President is trying to hold on to an illusion.

Those who suggest further capitulation to Iran are wrongly harming the interests of the West.

Few Arab Israelis found anything positive in the decision of its MKS to join any Gaza flotilla.

US Jews prefer to be like their non-Jewish liberal friends complaining about “settlements” and Bibi

New Israel Fund & its supporters must be countered; Israel’s in the midst of an unprecedented storm

PM Netanyahu this week identified ISIS and Iran as Israel’s primary threat. It is a planetary threat that carries the promise of peace.

Haym Solomon, overlooked hero of the Revolutionary War, was America’s “Funding Father.”

Latvia, July 4, 1941 they forced many Jews in the shul putting it on fire; everyone was burned alive

There’s blood on the reporters’ hands AND New Israel Fund for funding groups feeding lies to the UN

Respect & appreciation for our country is not only a civic value but an essential Jewish one as well

When words lose meaning, the world becomes an Orwellian dystopia; a veritable Tower of Babel

Israel, like the non-radical Islamic world. will be happy see the ISIS beheaded for once.

More Articles from Barry Rubin
Youssef Ziedan

The interviewer responds, “There was also Balfour.”

peace_clowns

If the Obama/Kerry peace deal does go through, what would the risks be?

Let me make it plain. There will be mass murder, even genocide in Syria.

A large number of pro-Obama and radical or even anti-Israel cadre are Jews.

Does anyone think the Palestinian Authority will resist daily attacks from Hamas and Fatah radicals?

Secret Service security arrangements were overruled.

The Obama Administration plan is very simple, assuming that everything goes smoothly–which of course it will not.

The less you know about Islam, the better. Ignorance is strength.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/the-powerlessness-excuse-debunking-the-claim-that-obama-could-not-influence-the-arab-spring/2012/10/16/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: