Democratic Terrorists in Egypt?


I’ve been watching coverage of the mess in Egypt and have not commented here until now. I’m stunned by what I’m hearing . . . and not hearing.

TV commentator Rich Lowry spoke tonight as if the Obama administration had only two choices. He could support Hosni Mubarak, the evil dictator, and watch the Egyptian President shoot down the demonstrators in the streets. Or, he could support the “democratic demonstrators” in the streets of Cairo. Obama, he thinks, rightly chose to support the democratic demonstrators.

Where does Lowry get the ridiculous idea that the protesters are “democratic”? Their demonstrations have hardly been peaceful.

And who are the Muslim Brotherhood? They sound like barbarians, and the likely heirs to the evil Mubarak regime.

John McCain said it well yesterday. Mubarak has been a friend to the United States for many years, and he has helped to keep some stability in the Middle East—which is otherwise hell-bent on the extermination of Israel. But Mubarak stayed too long and did not use his position to institute a democratic government in Egypt.

After watching the mess on the streets every night from the comfort of my living room, I’d like to know what democratic measures anyone, Mubarak included, could have introduced. I can’t visualize these people stowing their molotov cocktails the day after tomorrow and going peacefully to the polls to elect a respectable government in a free election.

The Egyptians are making a spectacle of themselves in front of the rest of the world. Their actions have galvanized dispirited citizens in countries elsewhere in the region. What exactly is their message, and why should we care what they want if all they can say is that Mubarak has to go?

Mubarak says he would like to leave, but believes the country would descend into greater chaos if he just walked away right now. Maybe people should consider the possibility that he’s right.

Here’s another possibility. Our president has been telling us, the American people, that he’s been talking tough to Mubarak on the phone. When our president announces this on television, then it doesn’t matter what he said on the phone. The world has heard Obama scold Mubarak and tell him what to do about the mess.

So what’s Mubarak supposed to do in response? Is he supposed to let Obama dictate to him what he should do? What if Mubarak is as vainglorious as Obama?

Does Obama really understand “the democratic process”? He seems to think that the process begins with a free election. This is simply naive. A “free election” isn’t an important step in a democratic process if that election results in a fascist government. And it looks like that’s the result we should expect. Dana Perino told Greta tonight, “Democracies take time.” Obama doesn’t know that?

What’s really going on in Egypt? Everybody is guessing here, including our officials. They’ve made that pretty obvious. Shame on them for being so out of touch with world realities. And shame on us if we stand by and watch without criticism the naive, oddly paranoid and aggressive response of our government to a complex conflagration.

We’ve ostracized a valuable ally. Israel is mystified by our response. Things aren’t getting better on the streets of Cairo. The Muslim Brotherhood lurks in the background. Obama chastens a proud dictator who no doubt has his own ideas about what he should do. Mubarak won’t budge (as of today). Western reporters are crying foul for the mistreatment they’re receiving in their efforts to scoop the story.

I would like a clear and detailed statement from Mr. Obama that explains his view of our relationship with Egypt, and how it will improve if Mubarak walks away and the people participate in the kind of free election he has goaded them to demand.

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Do You Agree with the Charlie Gibson Doctrine?


What is the “Bush Doctrine”? Who can say? But we now know something about the “Charlie Gibson Doctrine”—which might also be called the “Elite Media Doctrine.”

Charlie Gibson was the first member of the mainstream media to interview Sarah Palin, Republican candidate for the Vice Presidency. I’m only guessing here, but I’d say Gibson was worried about how he would appear to his media colleagues during the interview. This was a much-anticipated interview and news people country-wide were overtly jealous of Gibson. So Gibson knew he was being scrutinized, and he knew what was expected of him by the media. They wanted red meat, and they got it in the form of one question in particular. He asked Governor Palin, “Do you agree with the Bush Doctrine?”

This is pandering. Why? Because Gibson wanted to please his media buddies. It’s also dirty pool. Why? Because there is no such thing as “the Bush doctrine.” But Charlie Gibson thinks there is. He stated it as follows:

“The Bush doctrine, as I understand it, is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense, that we have the right to a preemptive strike against any other country that we think is going to attack us. Do you agree with that — the right to preemptive attack of a country that was planning an attack on America?”

Charlie Gibson should be embarrassed, not because he put the candidate on the spot, but because he didn’t know what he was talking about.

Everybody knows that the media would disapprove if Palin answered “yes” to Gibson’s question. You can tell from Gibson’s demeanor that he believed two things: (1) Palin would have to say yes, and (2) if Palin said yes this would cause trouble for the McCain campaign. Remember, Barack Obama’s singular objection to John McCain has been that a vote for McCain would be a vote for a four-year extension of the unpopular presidency of George Bush.

There’s only one other possibility, and that is that Palin wouldn’t know what to say because she didn’t know what the Bush doctrine is. That’s pretty cynical, though, and an upright media professional would simply have stated the so-called doctrine, without attributing it uniquely to President Bush, and asked if the candidate agreed with it. Imagine how things would have seemed if Charlie Gibson had asked his question that way, without trying to bait Sarah Palin into an uneasy association with a currently unpopular president. Palin could have said yes. No harm, no foul. Next question.

I know some astute observers believe that Sarah Palin faltered, ever so slightly, in response to Gibson. But there’s another way to interpret her response. Perhaps Gibson should be grateful that Sarah Palin answered graciously. The presupposition of his question was false, and yet Charlie Gibson believed it. Palin was forbearing. She did not confront him about his naivete.

We should hope that every candidate would answer an undisguised formulation of Gibson’s question in the affirmative, without equivocation or nuance. It would be shameful if a President did not adopt this view.

Teddy Roosevelt accepted it, that’s for sure. So did Abraham Lincoln, and I believe his conduct of the Civil War is evidence of it. Every President during the Cold War held firmly to this view, which is one reason why there was a Cold War.

It’s plausible to suppose that the Monroe Doctrine, stated in James Monroe’s annual message to Congress December 2, 1823, presupposes a similar commitment. Here is a passage from Monroe’s presentation nearly two hundred years ago:

Our policy in regard to Europe, which was adopted at an early stage of the wars which have so long agitated that quarter of the globe, nevertheless remains the same, which is, not to interfere in the internal concerns of any of its powers; to consider the government de facto as the legitimate government for us; to cultivate friendly relations with it, and to preserve those relations by a frank, firm, and manly policy, meeting in all instances the just claims of every power, submitting to injuries from none. But in regard to those continents circumstances are eminently and conspicuously different. It is impossible that the allied powers should extend their political system to any portion of either continent without endangering our peace and happiness; nor can anyone believe that our southern brethren, if left to themselves, would adopt it of their own accord. It is equally impossible, therefore, that we should behold such interposition in any form with indifference.

There has been some controversy about whether Franklin Delano Roosevelt knew beforehand of an imminent attack by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor and deliberately waited for the attack in order to strengthen the grounds for entering the war, which he wanted to do anyway. If the bare suggestion of that possibility is heresy, and beneath the dignity of the President, it is because the so-called “Bush doctrine” is assumed by the American people to be an axiom of American foreign policy.

George Bush, whatever his faults, was right to remind his people that he was duty-bound to protect them from imminent threat with preemptive action. It’s a shame that this required special boldness, especially in the aftermath of 9/11.

Gibson’s question, without its supercilious association with President Bush, ought to be one of the first questions that both Obama and McCain have to answer early in their upcoming debate. Their respective answers could set the tone for the rest of the debate. I wonder what Obama would say. I think we all know what McCain would say.

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Note:

This post was inspired by today’s post by Dennis Prager, who writes:

“All the interview did was reconfirm that Republicans running for office run against both their Democratic opponent and the mainstream news media.

“This year it is more obvious than ever. The press’s beatification of Obama is so obvious, so constant (how many covers of Newsweek and Time has Obama been on?) that media credibility even among many non-conservatives has been hurt.

“Let me put this another way. Charlie Gibson showed far greater hostility toward the Republican vice-presidential candidate than Dan Rather did in his interview with Saddam Hussein or Mike Wallace did in his interview with Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”

Who can disagree?

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