Not matter what was said in private, or how forcefully, the public message sent by the Obama administration over the past two years was that democracy and human rights in Egypt was not a top priority. When given the opportunity to use the biggest megaphone in the world--the voice of the president of the United States--the words were whispered, if said at all.
Glenn Kessler, Obama and Mubarak and democracy--an accounting, January 29, 2011
What's past is prologue
William Shakespeare, The Tempest
While the economy will naturally be the priority of Obama's second term as president, the Middle East will still require his attention.
With that in mind, one should keep in mind Obama's documented failure to support democratic reform in the Middle East. More than his support of the radical Muslim Brotherhood, Obama's refusal to actually foster democracy is a harbinger of the continued mismanagement of US foreign policy that we can expect to see during Obama's second term.
His neglect in this regard goes further than ignoring the Iranian protests after Ahmadinejad's faux election victory.
Instead, look at the silence of the Obama administration towards Egypt during its most critical time.
Back in February 2011, Jake Tapper suggested Taking A Clear-Eyed Look at the Obama Administration’s Full Two-Year Record on Reform in Egypt. He noted that the Bush administration attempted to directly fund pro-democracy groups in Egypt.
However, upon taking office Obama reversed that policy and significantly undercut that aid --
As Kessler writes [Follow The Egyptian Money]: Bush’s final budget “proposed spending $45 million on democracy and good-governance programs in Egypt, including more than $20 million on promoting civil society…But that nascent effort was largely shelved when the Obama administration took office. For fiscal year 2009, the administration immediately halved the money for democracy promotion in Egypt; the civil society funds were slashed 70 percent, to $7 million. Meanwhile, money that was to be given directly to civil society groups was eliminated and the administration agreed to once again fund only those institutions that had Mubarak's seal of approval.”Tapper goes on to point out that the Obama administration was criticized for its failure to back the efforts of human rights activists in Egypt:
Freedom House in 2009 wrote that the Obama Administration “should reassess this reduction in support and strengthen its diplomatic efforts on behalf of independent democracy and human rights activists in this important country."The fact of the matter is that Obama let the Egyptian people down with his silence -- just as he did with the Iranians -- failing to publicly call for reform in Egypt until January 28, 2011 after Mubarak had already announced he was going to dissolve the Cabinet in response to the mass demonstrations in Cairo.
In 2010, Freedom House wrote: "We have serious concerns about the US Government decision to stop funding civil society groups not registered with the Egyptian Ministry of Social Solidarity, essentially giving the Egyptian Government veto power over who receives funding from USAID. Not only is this decision harmful to civil society groups in Egypt, it sets a dangerous precedent in terms of U.S. foreign assistance."
More leading from behind?
Obama's inability to proactively support democracy sends a green light to radical Islamists that they can proceed, unhindered, as they continue to hijack what was once optimistically called the "Arab Spring." It is not surprising then that Obama plans to visit the man he considers to be a close friend -- Erdogan of Turkey -- who besides supporting the terrorist group Hamas, has orchestrated a mock trial of Israeli leaders who prevented the terrorist-supported Mavi Marmara from breaking the Gaza blockade.
There is every reason to believe that Obama's negligent Middle East policy will continue to allow anti-American Islamism to flourish in the Middle East, with disastrous consequences.
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