Friday, July 1, 2011

UPDATED How exactly is this supposed to benefit the US? -- A New Series

I'm going to start a new blog series, titled "How exactly is this supposed to benefit the US?"  Barack Obama's job as POTUS is to enact and promote policies that benefit the US, yet so many of his decisions, especially in the realm of defense and foreign policy (F-22, Honduras, Poland, Iran, Venezuela, etc.) seem ... less than beneficial to the US. 

Now, if I said these policies seem intended to hurt the US, I would be called "uncivil."  Oh, dear ... So, I will just ask the question and see if there is in fact a way that these policies can indeed protect and advance the interests of the US.
Let's start with Egypt.

Of all the popular revolts in the Middle East this year, the one in Egypt was the most dangerous for the United States, because the government was a (relatively) pro-American and anti-Islamist dictatorship, while the primary opposition was the anti-American, Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. 

So, naturally, Egypt is where Barack Obama took the most decisive action to remove the government and has encouraged the Muslim Brotherhood to hold out for some (possibly total) power over the new government.

Barry Rubin notes a major policy change, and the efforts of the Reuters news agency and, apparently, the Obama administration to disguise that change:
Here’s the headline: “U.S. to resume formal Muslim Brotherhood contacts.” But that’s not true. In fact, as the Reuters article itself admits, there have never been “formal” contacts before but only informal ones. Let’s examine the language, which stems from a “senior U.S. official,” to see what the Obama administration thinks about the Muslim Brotherhood:


Every day for decades the Brotherhood has supported violence against Israel. It has supported violence against Americans in Iraq, and on various other fronts. Why is this so hard to see?
The result has been a dilemma for the Obama administration. Former officials and analysts said it has little choice but to engage the Brotherhood directly, given its political prominence after the February 11 downfall of former President Hosni Mubarak.
That is arguably true, but by recognizing the Brotherhood and having contacts with it, the Obama administration also makes a unilateral concession encouraging the Brotherhood. People who know the Middle East understand how this works: Soon many Egyptians will say (as they said in Iran and as they now say in Turkey) that the United States wants the Islamists to win.
It sure seems that way.  How exactly is this policy supposed to benefit the US?
So we just can’t tell if the Muslim Brotherhood wants a radical Islamist state before it takes power. Just like it was presumably a mystery about what Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini wanted to do in Iran, the Taliban in Afghanistan, Hizballah in Lebanon, and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
And finally the article doesn’t even mention the most important development in U.S.-Muslim Brotherhood relations during that group’s eighty-year history: President Barack Obama’s explicit (and uninvited) statement accepting the Brotherhood being in government. U.S. policy is paving the way for a radical, possibly Islamist, Egypt. It is a catastrophic strategy.
Once again, how exactly is this policy supposed to benefit the US?

UPDATE: Almost on cue, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confirms it:
“We believe, given the changing political landscape in Egypt, that it is in the interests of the United States to engage with all parties that are peaceful and committed to nonviolence, that intend to compete for the parliament and the presidency,” she told reporters in Budapest, Hungary. “And we welcome, therefore, dialogue with those Muslim Brotherhood members who wish to talk with us.”
But, she added, any such contacts “will continue to emphasize the importance of and support for democratic principles, and especially a commitment to nonviolence, respect for minority rights, and the full inclusion of women in any democracy. You cannot leave out half the population and claim that you are committed to democracy.”…
“The U.S. administration has supported dictators for decades and authorized torture, repression and colonization,” [a Muslim Brotherhood spokesman] said. “The U.S. is hated in the Middle East region more than any other country according to polls published in the U.S. If the U.S. is serious in opening a dialogue, they must first respect the people’s choices for a true democracy, independence and respect their choice of leaders. We would welcome the open dialogue, if they are serious and transparent.”
AllahPundit's take:
Re-read that last paragraph. That’s the sound of a man who knows he’s in the driver’s seat. Realistically, the Brotherhood’s going to take a chunk of seats in the next Egyptian parliament, and when they do, there’s no earthly way we’re going to punish Egyptians by walking away from the country. We need to maintain this “alliance” for two key reasons: First, to preserve our leverage with the army in case they get any nutty ideas about a new war with Israel or a new proxy war with Israel via arming Hamas. And second, to hold together some sort of rough Sunni front against Iran, which will be looking to reach out to the Brotherhood in the name of fundie solidarity against the Great Satan, etc. Just one krazy kwestion: Since we know we’ll have to bite the bullet eventually in making nice-ish with the Brotherhood, why bite it now — before the election — and legitimize them in the process? Our biggest weapon against them was the threat that we’d yank the $2 billion in military aid that we give to Egypt each year if they take over parliament. Granted, that’s an empty threat for the reasons I’ve described, but it might have given some voters (and the army, of course) pause.
Apparently, GOP Rep. Trent Franks is asking the same question I am:
Arizona Republican Rep. Trent Franks, a member of the House Committee on Armed Services, had strong words Friday following the admission from Secretary of State Hilary Clinton that the Obama administration is engaging with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood with a policy of “limited contact.”
“It is unfathomable that this Administration is reaching out to an extremely violent Islamic fundamentalist group, the Muslim Brotherhood: a group whose “Supreme Leader,” Mohammed Badei, declared holy war or “jihad” on the U.S. and Israel just last October,” Trent blasted the administration.
“The Muslim Brotherhood has decades of violent history covertly operating in the United States, and is recognized by experts as having 100 times more active members than Al-Qaeda,” he said. “The Muslim Brotherhood membership includes designated terrorist organizations, like Hamas.”
It is imperative to the United States and Isreal’s security that the Muslim Brotherhood not gain any ground in the conflict in Egypt or around the world, regardless of whether they say they are for peace, Franks said.
How exactly is this policy supposed to benefit the US?

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