Wednesday, November 07, 2012

What Should Obama Do Differently In The Middle East -- And Will He Do It?

Barry Rubin writes about What Obama Should Have Done in the Last Four Years and Won’t Do in the Next Four Years:
Over and over again I’ve written about what President Barack Obama should do. Now the voters have given him a whole new chance. He could take it and change his policy. I don’t believe he will do that but let me lay out both what he’s been wrong and what he should do, just in case Obama is seeking a different approach.

What he did in the first and will do in the second term: Foster revolutionary Islamism in Egypt, the Gaza Strip, Syria, Tunisia, and Turkey.

What he should have done and should do now: Do what Franklin Rooosevelt did in 1941 and Harry Truman in 1947 and George Bush in 1990. Lead an international coalition that will systematically fight against a totalitarian enemy. Today, that means revolutionary Islamism. The loose coalition should include Europe, anti-Islamist Arab regimes (Morocco, Algeria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf Arab states) and pro-democratic opposition movements (Turkey, Lebanon, Iran, and Syria).
Rubin goes on to provide specifics about what Obama did as part of his Middle East policy over the past 4 years -- what Obama did and what he should have done.

Here are just 5 examples:
  • What he did….: Pressed Israel to reduce pressure on the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip and helped bring an Egyptian regime that backed Hamas.

    What he should have done….: Supported a reformed—not overthrown—Egyptian regime and Israel in opposing Hamas and subverting its rule.
  • What he did: Nothing.

    What he should have done: Investigate the Benghazi incident seriously and honestly (his choice for chief investigator, former State Department hack Thomas Pickering, is an opportunist who will write whatever the White House wants), get those responsible and make sure that nothing like that has ever happened again. Perhaps an apology to the families of those killed would be in order.
  • What he did….: Said he supported the rights of Christians and women from (Islamist) repression. But he never did anything about it, zero. Cozied up to Syria and Iran at the very moment they were violently suppressing dissidents at home and opponents abroad.

    What he should have done: Genuinely work to protect the rights of Christians and women as well as the lives of moderates by using leverage.

  • What he did….: Said that al-Qaida was defeated.

    What he should have done: Understand that al-Qaida is not finished by any means. And its partner the Taliban is still going strong. But this issue made less difference since U.S. policy did fight al-Qaida any way.
  • What he did….: Forbade an honest discussion of the enemy and threat in the U.S. military; minimized or denied attacks like the one at Fort Hood were terrorist.

    What he should have done: Let the U.S. military educate its people to the actual threat instead of forcing them to pretend otherwise.
Read the whole thing.

Will Obama take this -- or any advice -- that runs counter to the way he has conducted Middle East foreign policy over the last four years?

We can hope, but who really believes that Obama will pursue a different agenda now that he has won a second term.

In any case, it does not appear as if the American people see much of a need for a change, considering that about half of those polled think that the US is actually winning the war on terror.

Yesterday, Rasmussen published a poll indicating that 49% Say U.S. and Allies Are Winning War on Terror:
Voter confidence in U.S. efforts in the War on Terror has inched up slightly since the September 11 attack in Libya that left four Americans dead, including the U.S. ambassador there. However, the number of voters who say the terrorists are winning the conflict also has grown.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Voters shows 49% believe the United States and its allies are winning the War on Terror, but 25% think the terrorists are winning that war. Another 19% say neither side has the advantage. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
Will the wariness of the American people wear off on Obama?

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