Monday, January 28, 2013

Curb Your Enthusiasm

CBS News probably hoped that last night's interview (transcript, here) on 60 Minutes of Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton would be a joy and pleasure, something to take viewers' minds off Syria, Mali, Afghanistan, and the other, pesky little issues they'd rather ignore.  For the most part, President Obama, for his part, did not disappoint, stating

Well, I was a big admirer of Hillary's before our primary battles and the general election. You know, her discipline, her stamina, her thoughtfulness, her ability to project, I think, and make clear issues that are important to the American people, I thought made her an extraordinary talent...

I think everybody understands that Hillary's been, you know, one of the most important advisors that I've had on a whole range of issues. Hillary's capacity to travel around the world, to lay the groundwork for a new way of doing things, to establish a sense of engagement that, you know...

The President commended "the great work that Hillary did and her team did and the State Department did in conjunction with our national security team" and even referred to the outgoing Secretary of State as "a strong friend"  (though the adjective might better be applied to, say, an Arnold Schwarzenegger). When Kroft was moved to ask "what's the date of expiration of this endorsement?"  Obama replied " You know, Steve, I gotta tell you, the-- you guys in the press are incorrigible. I was literally inaugurated four days ago. And you're talking about elections four years from now," deftly avoiding either denying it was an endorsement or offering any praise for the fellow who has served as Vice-President for 4+ years.

Asked, however, about about criticism of U.S. foreign policy as exhibiting "an unwillingness or what seems/appears to be an unwillingness to gauge big issues. Syria, for example," Obama maintained

Well, Muammar Qaddafi probably does not agree with that assessment, or at least if he was around, he wouldn't agree with that assessment. Obviously, you know, we helped to put together and lay the groundwork for liberating Libya. You know, when it comes to Egypt, I think, had it not been for the leadership we showed, you might have seen a different outcome there. But also understanding that we do nobody a service when we leap before we look.

Doing stand-up, Barack Obama boasted "You know, when it comes to Egypt, I think, had it not been for the leadership we showed, you might have seen a different outcome there."

Think again, Mr. President.  It is an "outcome" you ought not to be proud of.   Zvi Mazel in The Jerusalem Post informs us

There is no longer a parliamentary opposition in Egypt.

With the new, controversial constitution, President Mohamed Morsi has full executive powers; he names the prime minister, the judges of the Supreme Court and the heads of all public institutions.

With the dissolution of the lower house of the parliament, he has entrusted, until the next parliamentary elections, the legislative powers he had taken over to the upper house – where the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists hold 85 percent of the seats.

Only the judiciary retains a measure of independence, and even that is threatened by several dispositions of the new constitution.

Morsi is now making an allout effort to appoint members of the Brotherhood and their supporters to every available position, in spite of the spirited resistance of the judiciary, media and Interior Ministry, where there is a long-standing tradition of opposition to the Brotherhood.

Parliamentary elections that were to be held two months after the constitutional referendum, in February, have been postponed without explanation and are now scheduled for an unspecified date in April. It is generally understood that Morsi wants to ensure that he has everything sewed up tight and can confidently expect victory for his Freedom and Justice party.  

A dictatorial regime mildly friendly to the U.S.A. replaced by a dictatorial regime allied with the Muslim Brotherhood and the President brags about "the leadership we showed."   But while the Administration was late to the game of unseating Hosni Mubarak, it now is showing leadership in empowering an anti-Semitic national leader who opposes a two-state solution in the Middle East and once called for a boycott of American goods.   On January 22, four F-16 fighter jets left the U.S.A. for Egypt, part of an aid package negotiated with Mubarak, and which will include 16 more jets and 200 Abrams tanks before the end of the year.

The unwise  transfer of American weaponry to the extremist regime in Cairo has given Republican Senator Rand Paul, evoking analogy to a stopped clock, an opportunity to be right twice (including his vote on the National Defense Authorization Act) in the space of three months.   Paul would, he says, "condition money and anything we give to them on good behavior. And I don't think we've been getting good behavior from Egypt."

Fortunately, that may change.  Morsi is facing considerable opposition to the moves he has made to solidify his control and put a stranglehold on the Egyptian people. The aforementioned Mazel explains that three anti-Islamic forces are considering collaboration and the National Salvation Front

is asking its supporters to maintain pressure on the regime through sit-ins in Tahrir Square and near the presidential palace, while avoiding violence. The opposition is pinning its hopes on the mass rally it is calling for the second anniversary of the start of the revolution – set to happen this Friday. It is also threatening not to take part in parliamentary elections unless suitable guarantees are given concerning their fairness and transparency. This includes 10 essential conditions such as interdiction of political campaigning inside mosques, as well as the establishment of a new government acceptable to all through a balanced electoral process.

In Egypt, the fat lady has not yet begun to sing.  But from what we have heard thus far, the outcome hardly qualifies as a notch on President Obama's foreign policy belt.

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