President Obama's knee jerk reaction to the original Tahrir Sq uprising forced the military to oust long time US ally Hosni Mubarak - the reason? "Well democracy must be better right?"! No real thought appears to have been given to who or what might have filled that power vacuum, even though it seemed obvious to those of us who follow Middle East politics, that only the Muslim Brotherhood - with values inimical to democracy - had the organization in place to fight elections. The Brotherhood, recognizing this, pushed for early elections. Obama saw this as an embracing of the democratic values that america loves and so the Brotherhood won the first ever free elections in Egypt, because nobody else stood a chance! I have written here repeatedly that democracy is not "one person, one vote, one time" and in fact elections do not equal democracy, they are the result of democracy - something that has to be understood by the state & citizenship and ingrained into the national psyche, as it in Israel. What happened in Egypt was that a non democratic group of Islamic extremists manipulated democratic ideas to gain power. Obama had no choice, but to to back "democratically elected" Morsi, even after he granted himself semi-dictatorial powers after only 5 months into his year in office. This was a year marked by government censorship, and anti Christian racism as well as one of having no answers to Egypt's rapidly declining economy which led to 22,000,000 Egyptians signing a petition calling for his resignation! Obama's not so calculated risk could have even ended the Egyptian / Israeli peace agreement, and may well would have, without the non democratic influence of Egypt's military!
When the massive anti-Morsi protests hit the streets a couple of weeks ago, Obama and his new (light weight) secretary of state John Kerry, had little to say, and only when the Egyptian army stepped in did Obama make a halfhearted statement in support of Egypt's now cancelled democracy that had never really existed in the first place, thanks to US supporting Morsi! What a mess. Its interesting to note (as several Israeli newspaper editorials did this past week) that two years ago the Egyptian army interceded to oust Mubarak only after the Obama administration turned against him. Now that same military have totally ignored Obama and ousted Morsi (and this despite the fact that congress may be forced by its own rules to block further aid to Egypt's ailing economy until democracy is 'restored'!) - how the mighty US has fallen in a year.
Looking across the Middle East, Obama has failed to tackle or understand the growing threat represented by Iran, or even place them under enough pressure to slow them down, which has allowed Iran the room to continue its drive to dominate the Arab world and fill the vacuum left by Egypt's demise, interfere in Lebanon, Syria and Turkey not to mention provide the support Hamas needs to maintain its Fortress Gaza policy & prosecute its terrorist war against Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
In Syria Obama has been shown to be weak and ineffectual when faced by an emasculated UN andintransigent Russia - where is the decisive foreign policy of a superpower protecting its foreign interests and human rights? You would think it was the USA that had collapsed 20 years ago & not the USSR / Russia! The Obama administration's failure not only to act but to even formulate a coherent policy toward Syria has in part led to the death of 100,000 people, the further arming of Hezbollah, the involvement of Al Qaeda in Syria, the gradual destabilization of Lebanon and even a possibility of Turkey, Israel & Jordan being dragged reluctantly into the conflict. It has also created a huge refugee crisis.
Meanwhile what has Hilary Clinton's replacement as Secretary of State been focused on over the past few months? Well yes...The Middle East issue - but unfortunately the wrong one - Kerry has spent a huge amount of time racking up air miles in an unprecedented shuttle diplomacy attempt to reignite the long stalled Israel / Palestinian peace process!! He declares that he has made "real progress" - This despite the clear and obvious signs that now is not a time when the Palestinian side is in a position or mind set to enter talks - it is deeply split between Fatah and Hamas, the Palestinian Authority is unable to hold internal elections, its President's mandate having ended years ago and its current leadership vacuum in its Prime Minister's office. it is telling that literally as Kerry flew back to the US, talking about his successful talks with the Palestinians and their willingness to enter negotiations, Palestinian president Abbas was busy on Palestinian TV, honoring a terrorist leader, with the blood of multiple Israelis, including many children, on his hands - this incitement is a direct snub to Obama & Congress, which has long criticized the Palestinians over incitement and the glorification of terrorists. Meanwhile on the Israeli side, the new Netanyahu government has other more pressing & divisive internal issues to focus on, before it will want to enter the politically difficult and contentious [and quite probably fruitless talks] with the Palestinians.
So while the Arab Spring turns into another Arab Disaster; Iran heads towards nuclear arms and consequential conflict with Israel & other Mid East states; and in Syria (where Iran where not coincidentally, is interfering) the mass slaughter continues, threatening the entire region, John Kerry is wasting his time on an issue that should not (at this time) be even close to the top of his agenda and its not as if he is making headway! A few years ago, former President Bush was criticized for taking a heavy hand in the Mid East, but at least we can say that he had influence and that right or wrongly, his administration was listened to - Obama has turned US's role into that of a minor player on the word stage and because of that, people are dying - that will be his legacy here and that is unforgivable.