Obama the rhetorical idealist wished Iranians well (just barely) in the summer of 2009, while Obama the operational realist pursued a diplomatic relationship with Tehran. Basij forces soon crushed protestors in the streets. Tunisia was wished well and today the ruling Islamist party, Ennahda, has filed a bill to criminalize blasphemy. Obama saluted Egyptians before the Muslim Brotherhood took control of their country. And the rhetorical idealist praised Syrian rebels for a year and a half while the operational realist tried to outsource matters to the UN and Moscow. The result? A recent New York Times Headline declares, “As Syrian War Drags On, Jihadists Take Bigger Role.”This is not to mention Obama's failures thus far in Iraq and Afghanistan -- though the jury is still out in Libya, where, after our European allies dragged us in and ousted Ghadaffi, the Islamist extremists gave not had an easy time of it.
But there is more to it than the new resurgence of radical Islam UN the Middle East. Greenwald writes that the failure of the Obama administration to follow up on the available options will be costly in the long run:
Our options for countering the Islamist comeback were limited, yes, but not nonexistent. The U.S. could have robustly supported the Iranian democrats who asked for American help; allied with Arab liberals instead of courting Arab dictators; funneled weapons and money to parties that we’d have come to know; and tied foreign aid and trade to regimes’ human rights policies. If you think such things would have made no difference consider that even with the Muslim Brotherhood’s monopoly on organization Morsi won less than 52% of the runoff vote.Read the whole thing.
Where we go from here will depend on the upcoming November elections. It will depend on whether Obama's disastrous Middle East policy continues and, if elected, Romney delivers on his promises and talk.