Friday, February 11, 2011
What Obama ought say to Egypt
Obama should say — right away, and bluntly — “Lest there be a miscalculation from uncertainty about America’s position, Egypt should know that the day the Muslim Brotherhood becomes part of Egypt’s government is the day American foreign aid ends.”
But he won’t.
When Obama fails to do this, should then Boehner, as Speaker, say "I predict that the House won't appropriate money for foreign aid to Egypt if the Muslim Brotherhood is part of the government"?
I think so. I think it would be a truthful prediction that would likely prove accurate. And it's within Boehner's institutional province so long as it's carefully phrased. But Boehner should privately twist Obama's arm first, to give him the opportunity to speak for America as its chief of state.
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I sort of think the idea that Congress can't engage in diplomacy is unconstitutional, anyway.
(2) Norman Rogers made the following comment | Feb 13, 2011 6:58:09 AM | Permalink
Best to say nothing. I'm sure we'd have other things we'd like to condition continuing aid thereon. If we now announce that our sole condition is as you suggest, we lose bargaining power.
This sort of thing is best said in private.
Mr. Rogers, thanks for your comment. But I didn't suggest that it be our "sole condition" or only statement or action.
Moreover, my whole point is that this not be something said in private, but something said very publicly, and of which word would reach all Egyptians. It may affect, and should affect (if they're being rational self-interested decision-makers), whoever in Egypt is involved in forming a new government. Saying nothing, or saying it only in private to those we think are going to choose a new government (e.g., only to the military), both make it more likely that we'd be misunderstood. This is all about telling the truth, even though it may not be a truth that is obvious to the Egyptians (or others similarly situated).
The risk I'm trying to avoid is that instead, Egypt will think we're all still living in the days of Jimmy Carter and muddled American signals -- and yes, Obama has already damn well muddled things again by supporting, and then actively undercutting, Mubarak. The target audience that I particularly have in mind are those Egyptians who might have the misimpression that we would continue our aid to a government that includes elements of the Muslim Brotherhood. By curing that misimpression, we would lower the odds of that situation coming about; or if it did come about, then the punishment of the aid cut-off would be more just and expected, and Egyptians as a whole could properly be held more responsible for that bad result.
I have long thought that we take the wrong approach with respect to foreign policy. How many times in the last 60 years has our support of a dictator made things worse for us (and the country) in the long run. Consider Bautista in Cuba, the Shah of Iran, and Saddam Hussein. Pinochet in Chile worked out OK, sort of. I know of no successes.
There are really three core values that America needs to be exporting: Individual Freedom, Representative Government, and Religious Liberty. We should support those who will improve those things, and not support those who don't. If no one in a region supports our values, we should be silent and stay out of it.
(5) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Feb 14, 2011 2:10:53 AM | Permalink
Dear Mr. Dyer: Great as always to have you back again.
1. I think silence may be better. The One has bawled in all directions these past few weeks. A "no aid" statement could be taken as the equivalent of Jimmy Bumpkin sending in the choppers to rescue the Iranian embassy hostages in April 1980. Look how that turned out. Too, do you really think that The One would cut off aid? Since when has constancy been his strong point? Finally, if he does, his base will yell like hell about that mean country, America, throwing its weight around again. That would concern The One far more than American interestss.
2. I could also see China stepping up to Egyptsaying, no worries gang, we'll take over, have a couple billion dollars we got from America. God knows China has been big on foreign aid for other African countries.
3. I don't see any good choices in front of us, given the gang of ninnies who are in charge. I can see The One roaring and blasting Israel for being "nervous" just because the Brotherhood is poised to start burning copies of the Camp David accords on CNN. Blaming someone else for his imbecility is characteristic, and given his dislike of Israel, that would seem to be a natural move.
4. Some things just have to be endured. The One is such a kidney stone. We, and the world, are paying one hell of a high tuition to educate this dummox.
Beldar is asking too much of the Obama Administration. As I recall, a key national security figure of this Administration actually believes that the Muslim Brotherhood is actually the Secular Brotherhood.
(7) DRJ made the following comment | Feb 19, 2011 4:42:07 PM | Permalink
Like most bright students in modern education, President Obama is skilled at open-ended statements that don't really say anything. He's repeatedly shown he's not comfortable being decisive about foreign policy, and instead prefers to craft policies that shift with changing events. This approach works in the vague world of American education, where sounding like you know what you're saying is enough. It doesn't work as well in the real world of foreign relations, especially when you're the American President.
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