Among the many incoherencies of Obama’s foreign policy, none is more glaring and appalling than his stance toward one of the worst mass murderers of our time, Omar Al Bashir, the dictator of Sudan. Al Bashir and his totalitarian political Islamic regime have conducted two eliminationist campaigns—of mass murder, mass expulsion, and mass rapes—over 20 years, first in Southern Sudan and then in Darfur.
Last Saturday in Cairo, Coptic Christians protesting the latest in a series of church burnings were attacked. According to reports, a mob of thugs swarmed the downtown protest area, lobbing gasoline bombs and rushing the demonstrators. Riot police stood by, then left to call the military. An hour later, when soldiers finally arrived, over 80 people had already been injured.
The joint Fatah-Hamas statement in Cairo this week announcing an impending agreement between the two leading Palestinian factions has caught nearly everybody off their guard.
In 2001, Amr Moussa, the current Egyptian Secretary-General of the Arab League, briefly achieved pop-icon status. Serving at the time as Hosni Mubarak’s foreign minister, Moussa’s frequent anti-Israel pronouncements caught the attention of Egyptian pop singer Shaaban Abdel Rahim, who released a song with the line, “I hate Israel and I love Amr Moussa.” The song became a tremendous hit. Shortly thereafter, Mubarak, who had come to regard Moussa as a serious political rival, exiled him to the Arab League. Ten years later, however, Moussa is back in the public eye.
When it came to foreign policy and national security, George W. Bush was a "big idea" president. Whether one agreed or disagreed with them, overarching concepts and a defined perspective on history drove his decisions. So far, Barack Obama has not been a big idea president, at least in foreign and national security policy. His instincts have been more those of a lawyer, charting a careful course through specific challenges and gravitating to a middle path which minimized risk.
Here is one lesson we can draw from the mostly negative media commentary about the Obama administration’s actions in Libya: Presidents get more credit for stopping atrocities after they begin than for preventing them before they get out of hand. The U.S.-led NATO intervention that stopped mass killing in Bosnia in 1995, for example, came only after 200,000 people had already been killed.
The world hoped that Libya would repeat the experience of Tunisia and Egypt: a popular uprising that toppled the dictatorship fairly quickly and at modest cost, followed by an effort to begin consolidating popular governance. That now seems unlikely.
Cairo, Egypt—On Fridays, Tahrir Square has become a patriotic carnival. It is packed with thousands of Egyptians, who stroll around decked out in nationalistic paraphernalia, picking at popcorn. They are mostly focused on their own country’s situation, where the toppling of Hosni Mubarak has given way to an uncertain political future, but they are also deeply concerned about the events unfolding in neighboring Libya. This past Friday, a man impersonating embattled Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi—fully robed, with an umbrella in tow—set up a mocking sideshow.
Most economists believe that while the recovery remains fragile, it is likely to accelerate over the next year. As recently as a month ago, the American people agreed. But they don’t anymore. And there is a threat that these suddenly gloomy expectations could turn out to be perversely self-fulfilling—causing Americans to stop spending and investing, and thus hobbling the pace of economic growth to slow the already subpar job rebound. Two recent surveys highlight the shift in popular sentiment.
It was not easy for me to watch the drama of Tahrir Square; and I cannot imagine that it was easy for any of my fellow Venezuelan exiles to watch, either. To the millions of us who marched our hearts out in the anti-Chávez protests of 2002 and 2003, the sight of those huge, hopeful crowds in Egypt set off an instant shock of recognition. In late 2002, a steady build-up of massive marches—usually numbering in the hundreds of thousands—brought Caracas to a standstill for days on end.