Posted on 12-09-2012
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

On September 12, 2012 the alliance between Egypt and the United States appears to have officially faded away.  Its end was not surprising. Under Sadat and then Mubarak, Egypt became an American ally and one of the biggest recipients of American aid after Israel.  Then the Pharaoh was swept away by the Arab spring and Egypt began its messy transition to democracy.  The much ballyhooed freedom agenda of George W. Bush withered away when it became clear that the popular franchise would not magically bring friends of the United States to power.

The transition in Egypt has been interesting to say the least.  Pharaoh Mubarak was forced out of power after popular protests, but the departure (like Tunisia) was stage managed by the army.  The Egyptian generals were showing signs that what they would live with was a “managed” democracy like Turkey until the 1990s and Pakistan today.  The civilians could rule within the margins set by the men in khaki.  If so, that belief was misplaced.  In August, the newly elected Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi – a former leader of the Muslim brotherhood – fired his military chiefs and nullified their constitutional declaration that gutted his office.

So far Morsi has not ended the Egyptian peace treaty with Israel, but it is clear that relations with Egypt had changed.  The embassy attacks highlight just how much.  The Libyan attacks were met by apologies of the Libyan government and were condemned by the government and people.  Indeed, the Libyan attacks appear to be more of a planned attack than triggered by the anti-Islam film.

In contrast the response from Morsi for a failure of his government to honor its diplomatic obligations has been….crickets.  For domestic consumption Morsi has ordered his embassy in Washington to try to make the pointless effort to prosecute the twits who made the movie that was used as an excuse for the riots.  David Frum speculates that Morsi is using this to solidify his power base.  Notably, President Obama’s statement today pointedly did not mention the Egypt attacks but evidently has sent the message to Egypt that it has the obligation to protect American diplomatic establishments.  This evening the Egyptian police dispersed the crowds without violence.

This evening Obama also gave an interview that made a now obvious point.  Egypt is not an ally, but is not an enemy either.  Clips of the interview from the Rachel Maddow show below:

 

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This is a huge strategic change in the Middle East.  Left unsaid (unless it is in the full interview to be aired tomorrow) is what happens to the huge aid package that went to the former ally.  The conduct of Morsi in the last couple of days is not likely to endear his government to Congress – where many on the right are already fulminating at the abandonment of the dictator to allow the election of Islamists to office.  Will the drying up of American military aid encourage Morsi and the khaki clad men who remain in line for now to temper their actions?  It is unlikely that the Obama administration would use this to encourage a Latin American style coup and it should not.  It complicates the strategic situation for Israel, which is already facing the possible replacement of the devil it knows in Syria with chaos.  It makes Netanyahu’s obsession of a war with Iran even crazier.

Ultimately, I am not upset about the end of an alliance forged with an unpopular dictator rather than with a government backed by public support.  The former is inherently unstable and makes the United States look away from abuses that tarnish our reputation by association.  The latter are generally more enduring.  Far too many foreign policy hawks pine for the client state relationships that existed in the Cold War.  They gave a type of negative stability but cost America in the long run.  Other countries have interests too and they will not always align with ours.  That is the basic principle that in coming years will guide American relations with India, Brazil, South Africa and other countries with whom we will have warm relations without a NATO style alliance. In the long run it is a healthier and more mature approach.

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Posted on 12-09-2012
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

Today was a brutal day for Mitt Romney.  His irresponsible and incoherent political cheap shot while the American embassy was under attack blew up in his face today.  Even as Romney doubled down in his mendacious irresponsibility in a smirk filled press conference, most Republicans did not follow his position.  When America is under attack there is one President, and John Boehner, John McCain, Lyndsey Graham etc. followed that basic principle.  The Republicans supporting Romney tended to be of the caliber of the quitter turned reality show star, the bloviating windbag and Torquemada.

This evening President Obama observed Romney’s tendency to shoot first and aim later.  Video below:

 

 

This is not the first time Romney has made a fool out of himself by this tendency.  This summer Romney took to the airwaves to accuse the Obama administration of abandoning Chinese defector Chen Guangcheng, while negotiations with the Chinese were still ongoing.  After Chen was allowed to depart for the United States even Bill Kristol called the attacks foolish.

Tsar Vladimir stuck the knife into Romney today by using Romney’s nutty classification of Russia as our primary geopolitical foe.  He noted that the danger of someone like Romney assuming the presidency made him firm up his opposition to a missile defense system based in Europe purportedly aimed at Iran.

The problem is that Romney has not given foreign policy much deep thought.  His foreign policy team is largely composed of the geniuses who gave us the foreign policy debacles of the Bush years.  His conduct in the last 24 hours raises serious questions about his temperament and fitness for the Presidency.

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Posted on 12-09-2012
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

This blog excoriated the politicization of the death of an American diplomat in a violent attack on the embassy in Benghazi yesterday.  Turns out the attack was even worse.  The death toll currently sits at 4, including the American ambassador Christopher Stevens.  Video below:

 

 

This blog is about as militant a supporter of free speech there is, but has no sympathy for deliberate provocation to stir up trouble.  Most countries do not have our free speech protections or do not share our heritage of protecting them.  So acts/statements by private individuals who then walk free are easy tools to gin up anti-American violence in the region.  Personally I find riots based on an obscure statement by an unimportant asshole on the other side of the world profoundly stupid.  But since the Satanic Verses we have known that insults or presumed insults against the Prophet Muhammad or the Quran trigger a reaction that most Americans find puzzling and overheated.

The movie blamed for the riots was a deliberate attempt to goad the bull.  Congrats Sam Bacile, Terry Jones and the other assholes who made or are promoting this film.  It worked.  You proved how easy it is to trigger riots in the Muslim world.  You have exercised your right to free speech.  Now others will pay the price.  That will range from American diplomats and citizens in the Arab world to Coptic and other Christian minorities.  I hope you are happy with the results as you head into hiding.

 

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Posted on 12-09-2012
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

Every time Mitt Romney opens his mouth on foreign policy he makes me very nervous.  He typically makes me very angry too because some muscle in his tongue makes him spew a diet of misleading statements or outright lies.  A film produced in California mocking the Prophet Muhammad triggered attacks on American diplomatic establishments in Egypt and Libya.  An American diplomat in Benghazi was killed.  This is the latest incident where an insult (or in some cases an alleged insult) to the Prophet Muhammad or the Quran draws out anti-American mobs into the streets across the far reaches of the middle east.  America’s freedom of speech gives bigots the ability to goad Muslims and without fail the bait is taken.  Even though this was not an act by an American governmental actor, it is American institutions abroad that take the heat.

One cannot reason with irrational fanatics and the smart thing to do is to distance yourself from the triggering cause and do your job of protecting American interests.  So before the embassy attacks, the American embassy criticized the attempt to incite Muslims.  Yet the riots happened anyway, triggering condemnation from the administration.

But a flailing Romney campaign has a narrative to sell.  Even though it has been widely debunked, Mitt Romney’s standard line is to accuse the Obama administration of apologies.  After all Mitt Romney, who curls into a fetal position when confronted by windbags like Rush Limbaugh, is a macho macho man when it comes to foreign policy.  Video below:

 

 

 

So Romney did, what Romney does.  He politicized the tragic death of the diplomat and twisted the chronology of events to fit his mendacious Obama apology tour meme.

Even more despicable is RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, whose contribution to the politicization of the tragedy was this:

Obama sympathizes with attackers in Egypt. Sad and pathetic.
@Reince
Reince Priebus

The few sane Republicans left on foreign policy keep assuring us that Romney is only playing to the galleries.  But so far his foreign policy pronouncements have needlessly antagonized Russia, promised a trade war with China, seem to back Netanyahu’s attempts for a shooting war with Iran, and presumably pour oil on fires when Americans in the middle east are at risk.  When it comes to Afghanistan, he has every position (video below):

 

 

It is scary that Republicans evidently believe that parking yourself in a French chateau as a missionary to gain an exemption from the Vietnam War draft (after marching is support of the war in college) and a business career overcome a serious deficiency of foreign policy gravitas.

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