Sunday, July 29, 2012

Obama's Naivete

David D. Kirkpatrick cuts the president too much slack:
[Barack Obama] could not have guessed that the demand for Arab democracy would instead become one of his presidency’s greatest foreign policy challenges, forcing whoever wins the November election to confront tough trade offs between American values and interests.

The popular uprisings that have swept the region since Mr. Obama’s speech in Cairo have upended an authoritarian order that was largely congenial to the United States. While they may have brought Arab nations closer than ever to fulfilling of the promise of self-determination that has echoed through the speeches of American presidents since Woodrow Wilson at the end of the First World War, they have also imperiled crucial American allies, empowered antagonistic Islamists, and unleashed sectarian animosities that threaten to drag the whole region toward chaos.
Of course he could have guessed, and he would have if he hadn't been naive and inexperienced. His democracy- and freedom-loving predecessors stuck with Arab (and global) authoritarians whenever their policies served U.S. interests. One of the realities of leading the world's greatest democracy is that the American people elect leaders for their sake and not the sake of the people of Egypt, Libya, or Russia. It's not a mistake Richard Nixon would have made.

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