David Ignatius At Foreign Policy: ‘What Happens When the Arab Spring Turns to Summer?’

Full post here.

Ignatius (adapted from a lecture at Harvard) writes:

‘The United States has an interest in the secure supply of oil from the Persian Gulf, and Saudi Arabia in particular, to itself and to its allies. It has an interest in combating terrorist actions by al Qaeda and other groups that seek to target Americans. It has an interest in the security and well-being of Israel, America’s closest ally in the Middle East, and a concurrent interest in a just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. The United States also has an interest in the growth of stable, democratic regimes and the expansion of human rights.  The intersection of these interests is the zone of ambiguity in which foreign-policy choices must always be made.”

And Europe has even more of an interest in Libyan oil especially, and security and immigration in North Africa, than we do.  I can see the argument that Obama’s overall policy direction toward international support for AfPak all the way to Libya (Britain and France defending their own interests) is consistent with what he laid out (and one that may lessen the tension which increases our presence in the region with our military and security agencies).  Politically though, I’m probably more skeptical of the humanitarian and Western universalist ideals that seem to be guiding this administration as well as the administration’s ability to lead.  The softer ideals can have harder edges, and many unintended consequences. While the injustice of the Israel/Palestine situation is grave (and a rallying cry for most Muslims as well as a guilty pleasure and target of a most serious, righteous anger and dehumanization against the Israelis), seeking for a ‘just’ solution comes with many problems, especially if you expect to actually find justice.   Perhaps it’s as much a shift in American public sentiment as it a shift in conditions on the ground in Israel/Palestine.

‘But there is a time for low-key, and there is a time for clarity. On the final two strategic imperatives I cited — America’s obligation to assist the democratic revolution in Egypt and its need to be clear and forthright about its own national interests — I think Obama needs to speak as clearly and forcefully as Marshall did at Harvard’s commencement 64 years ago: “I need not tell you, ladies and gentlemen, the future security of the United States depends on the success of the Arab Spring.”‘

Well, both Obama being more forthright and an Arab Spring would be nice.  Perhaps globalization is changing the game, perhaps there some other forces at play in the increase of access to information, education, and opportunity.  Perhaps with Obama we can harness something in the Arab world that wouldn’t have been as likely under a McCain administration.  Perhaps there’s a deeper yearning in the Arab world to not merely associate freedom with a religious idealism and purity quest that can banish all else from the public square and civic life.  Perhaps the oppressed religious group or sect won’t merely be silenced under the thumb of the semi-corrupt tribal autocrat as he makes another deal with the West…but I suppose we’ll have to wait and see.

Here’s a quote from Edmund Burke (correction: Albert Jay Nock)  again:

‘According to my observations (for which I claim nothing by that they are all I have to go by) inaction is better than wrong action or premature right action, and effective right action can only follow right thinking. “If a great change is to take place,” said Edmund Burke, in his last words on the French Revolution, “the minds of men will be fitted to it.”‘

Addition:  In foreign policy as well as domestic, Obama seems pretty far the the Left.

Meanwhile, the Libya stalemate continues, as does the fighting.

Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest Online: ‘Obama’s War’From The WSJ: “Allies Rally To Stop Gadhafi”From March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And PakistanA Few Thoughts On Watching Operations In Libya

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