web analytics
April 24, 2014 / 24 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



A Reality-Driven Foreign Policy?

Share Button

In the beginning, President Obama really thought he could change the world. And he had specific plans to do so, both here and abroad.

In the Middle East he resolved to bring the Arab countries into the 21st century by promoting democratic elections to rid the region of its despots. He ignored what he knew from his own experience as a community organizer and presidential candidate – namely, that elections go to the better organized – and ignored the lesson learned by his predecessor, George W. Bush, whose own vision of a Democratic Middle East was dealt a severe blow when the organized and motivated Hamas swamped the feckless Fatah in the U.S.-supported parliamentary election in Gaza in 2006.

In his Cairo speech a few months after taking office, Mr. Obama called for free and democratic elections and promised, as incentive, to retool U.S. relations with the Muslim world. The president’s words gained immediate traction, and within a year what became known as the Arab Spring was in full bloom. But it quickly became obvious that old dictators were being replaced by new autocrats obsessed with exercising power for its own sake and waging war on political rivals with scant attention paid to the wishes and needs of the people.

In Egypt, to cite the most pertinent example, Egyptian voters, after forcing Hosni Mubarak out of office through massive demonstrations and the assistance of the military, proceeded to elect one of the leaders of the radical fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Morsi, as president. Mr. Morsi thereupon proceeded to pack the government with members of the Brotherhood and sought to rule by decree. He also tried to ensure that the new constitution would be written by Islamists and he removed judges who opposed him.

The Obama administration’s careful and nuanced reaction to Mr. Morsi’s eviction from office last week at the hands of the Egyptian military suggests that President Obama has abandoned the simplistic notion that elections themselves necessarily result in governmental legitimacy. This is being played out in terms of whether the U.S. will cut off financial aid to Egypt until new elections are held.

U.S. law could not be plainer. Thus, Section 508 of the Foreign Assistance Act provides that

None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available to this Act shall be obligated or expended to finance directly any assistance to any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree: Provided, That assistance may be resumed to such country if the President determines and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that subsequent to the termination of assistance a democratically elected government has taken office.

We note that there is no provision for a waiver of this provision.

Yet despite the very public role of the Egyptian military in the ouster of Mr. Morsi, President Obama has referred to U.S. support for “a set of core principles, including opposition to violence” and “a democratic political order with participation from all sides and all political parties.“

He also said the U.S. is “committed to the democratic process and respect for the rule of law.” But he studiously avoided characterizing the military’s role as a “coup,” saying only that “The United States is monitoring the very fluid situation in Egypt” and that given the recent developments, he had “directed the relevant departments and agencies to review the implications under U.S. law for our assistance to the government of Egypt.” He also called on the Egyptian military “to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible….”

When asked directly whether President Obama viewed the Egyptian army’s actions as a coup, White House press secretary Jay Carney said, “We are going to take the time necessary to review what has taken place. This is an incredibly complex and difficult situation.”

Clearly, Mr. Obama could have called the ouster of Morsi a “coup” and cut off aid. But he didn’t, choosing a more deliberate and measured response. Significantly, he called for a return to “a democratically elected civilian government” without mentioning Mr. Morsi in that context. Indeed, we are encouraged that Mr. Obama seems to have abandoned his earlier notions about the sanctity of elections regardless of context and seems instead to be trying to pursue U.S. interests regardless of labels.

At the same time, however, we cannot simply ignore U.S. law because it is inconvenient. We have seen that sort of thing in the Obama administration before with regard to immigration and national security issues, among others. There is, of course, precedent for presidential requests to Congress for enactment of special waiver power, as in the case of the military coup in Pakistan after 9/11. Given the lack of support for Mr. Morsi in Congress, such legislation may not be too difficult to achieve.

To be sure, Mr. Obama may have some wiggle room even under current law. While Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the budget committee that oversees foreign aid, has declared that “[the] law is clear: U.S. aid is cut off when a democratically elected government is deposed by military coup or decree,” there is an alternative view now emerging.

Some of Mr. Morsi’s opponents and members of Congress are arguing that what occurred in Cairo was not a coup as defined by the statute. They note that the military took action only after demonstrations by millions of Egyptians against Mr. Morsi’s policies indicated the extent of public discontent. “It’s not a coup because the military did not take power,” said Mohamed Tawfik, Egypt’s ambassador to the U.S. “The military did not initiate it. It was a popular uprising. The military stepped in order to avoid violence.”

In any event, we continue to be encouraged by the ongoing indications that President Obama seems to have abandoned his earlier, dangerously sophomoric, approach to the Middle East. This holds the promise of a more realistic U.S. policy for the remainder of Mr. Obama’s second term.

Share Button

About the Author:


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.

No Responses to “A Reality-Driven Foreign Policy?”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki.
America Joins Israel in Canceling Talks with PA
Latest Indepth Stories
Palestinian boys stand behind mock jail bars during a rally calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails (but not from Palestinian Arab jails), in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on April 20, 2014.

The Palestinian Authority has jailed more than 350 Arabs for “security” reasons in just 2014.

Rabbi Auerbach seen at a ceremony for the students who have finished the reading of the Babylonian talmud, at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem on July 31, 2012.

Since Torah is the great equalizer, the great reconciler of divergent but valid opinions, this is also the place where common ground is reached.

Dueling Shofarim

Some American Jews feel their community has been hijacked from within by groups waging war against Israel seemingly in the name of the Jewish people.

Al-Aksa Mosque was claimed to be the site from which Mohammed ascended to Heaven, but it was built nearly 50 years after Mohammed died.

Jerusalem only seems important in the Islamic world when non-Muslims control or capture the city.

Jordan’s king is adding fuel to the fire on the Temple Mount, blaming Israel for violence by Muslim Arab rioters.

At Brandeis, much of what counts as Western civilization got cold feet and won’t stand with Hirsi Ali.

But the lesson from this meditation is that hidden behind the anti-semitic act is the greatest light.

As support of their messianic dream, Halevi and Antepli approve dishonoring Hirsi Ali as a ‘renegade.’

If itis a mitzva to eat matza all Pesach, then why is there no berakha attached to it?

When we are united with unconditional love, no stone will be raised against us by our enemies.

The reporter simply reports the news, but it is greater to be inspired to better the situation.

The Big Bang theory marked the scientific community’s first sense of the universe having a beginning.

Freeing convicted murderers returns the status of Jewish existence to something less than sanctified.

“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

More Articles from Editorial Board

It’s finally happened. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan reported on her blog that “many readers…wrote to object to an [April 2] article…on the breakdown in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians,” claiming “[they] found the headline misleading and the article itself lacking in context.” Ms. Sullivan provided one such letter, quoted the […]

Nor did it seem relevant that according to widely circulated media reports, Rev. Sharpton was caught on an FBI surveillance video discussing possible drug sales with an FBI agent.

To be sure, American policy had long opposed the growth of Israeli settlements, but at the same time U.S. policymakers acknowledged that in any negotiated agreement there would be land swaps between Israel and the Palestinians to accommodate the large numbers of Israelis living in the settlements.

The issue of affordable infertility treatment has long been one of particular importance to the Orthodox Jewish community and we support the leadership of New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who again successfully championed this significant cause.

So it always struck us as hypocritical that Israel was expected to release cold-blooded killers almost as a matter of habit while the U.S. balked at letting Pollard go.

The Department of Justice acknowledges that individuals can claim an exemption if they can demonstrate an adverse impact on their religious beliefs.

In the larger sense, Mrs. Lubling came to epitomize an Orthodox community dedicated to taking care of its own.

There may not have been much else President Obama could have realistically done, but the headline writers at the Times obviously felt the need to massage a front-page story that took a less than giddy approach to Mr. Obama’s policymaking; how else to explain the story’s headline – “As Sanctions Start, Russia Feels a Sting”?

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/a-reality-driven-foreign-policy/2013/07/10/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: