Thursday, September 06, 2012

Does Obama's Democratic Platform Create Daylight Between The US And Arab Allies?

America is more secure and popular. Al-Qaida and the Taliban are on the run. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are ending. America is supporting democracy, women’s rights, and gay rights around the world. Isn’t this great leadership? How could anyone not vote for Obama?
Barry Rubin, on the thinking of the writers of the Democratic Platform


In a previous post, The Democratic Party Platform and Israel: What It Really Tells Us, Barry Rubin analyzed the Democratic Platform -- before it was revised. He noted that the section of the platform devoted to allies in the Middle East focused mainly on Israel, and when it came to the Arab world, the platform just mentions the gulf states in passing.

Rubin now returns to examine The Democratic Platform: Not One Word on Islamism or Any Support for Arab Liberals and Allies:

When I read the platform I am shocked and disappointed. I can pick at the issues of popularity, Afghanistan and Iraq. But the failure to deal with revolutionary Islamism is ridiculously glaring (they didn’t use the tiniest fig leaf to cover themselves), making a mockery about the democracy and human rights’ pretensions. The treatment of Middle East allies is shockingly insulting. The issues of Syria and Egypt are simply dodged. There is not a single mention of the opposition in Iran. All terrorists not involved directly in the September 11, 2001, attacks are ignored. There is not the slightest hint that any regional strategy exists at all.

Not a single word implies that the United States is willing to help allies fight revolutionary Islamist threats. In fact, the words “Islam” and “Muslim” do not appear once, even in some discussion of good Muslims versus bad radical heretics. They could have said something like: "Islam is a religion of peace but there are some extremists who wish to distort its teachings, take power, and institute repressive and anti-American dictatorships. We support our allies in defending themselves against these threats and support true democratic reformers in fighting against such oppressive forces that deny equality to women, religious minorities, and gay people." But they didn't even do that.
The platform does not appear to reflect the same Obama that made a point of visiting Cairo,  the same Obama that made Abbas his first phone call to any foreign leader, the same Obama that made multiple trips to the Middle East during his term without ever stopping off in Israel.

While the platform does go through the obligatory bragging how Obama single-handedly:
  • Defeated Al Qaeda
  • Ended the war in Iraq
  • Reverse the Taliban's momentum in Afghanistan
  • Applied toughest sanctions ever on Iran
  • Fully supported the Arab Spring
Barry Rubin critiques these claims -- giving credit where it is due to Obama, and pointing out where it is not.

For example, on Iran, Rubin writes:
Here is Iran, officially declared by the United States as the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism, a country murdering Americans in Iraq and elsewhere, and a place where a massive opposition has been crushed. So what does the platform say about that?
“In Iran, President Obama spoke out in support of the pro- democracy protestors and imposed human rights sanctions on the Iranian government.” [emphasis added]
Yes, that’s it. What human rights sanctions? How about: We support the Iranian people in struggling against and overthrowing a brutal dictatorship. And by the way we’re sorry we didn’t say anything when the regime stole the election and shot down demonstrators in the street but instead congratulated President Ahmadinejad on his reelection.
But throughout, the major omission in the Democratic platform -- Barry Rubin writes -- is the failure to mention, let alone address, the issue of the growing power of radical Islamism in the Middle East. He compares it to the idea of a party platform in the 1950's that would
  • Not address Communism
  • Devote just a few sentences to the USSR
  • Ignore supporting the liberation of the satellite states
  • Fail to put forward any strategy for dealing with the challenge.
Read Barry Rubin's complete post.

This failure does not bode well today, since the Arab world is aware of the problem, as noted by Reuters -- Some Gulf rulers wary of U.S. shifts on Islamists, Iran:
The rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and its ideological affiliates in the Arab Spring uprisings has stoked fears among Gulf Arab governments that the United States may one day abandon its traditional allies as it warms up to Islamists.

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