As events have developed in the Middle East in the past two weeks we have watched a transition in the public pronouncements of nearly every entity on the planet. The only person to hold ground, to some degree has been the Egyptian President Mubarak. Although he announced that he would not seek office again in September, he was quick to temper his statement by saying he never intended to run again. Whether he has been good for Egypt or bad is a question for Egyptians. Whether he has been an asset to the United States and our foreign policy in that region of the world is another issue entirely.
The state of our credibility balances on two issues; one, our apparent resolve and two, the outcome of the upheaval we are witnessing in Egypt. In a part of the world that scrutinizes it's enemies for weaknesses to exploit, how we will be perceived by the winning side will determine whether or not we will be able to influence anyone in the Islamic community, peacefully, in the future.
The White House has been reactive throughout the entire process and, arguably because there isn't a single end game scenario that plays out well for us. On the one hand we have handled Mubarak as a friend for decades and any indication of distancing ourselves from him 'in his hour of need' will not play well with other Islamic nations with whom we have a 'working' relationship. If we back him, it will send a message to the Egyptian population that we are abandoning them in favor of a 'leader' they accuse of abuses and apathy. Considering whether the latter could push the voting population there closer to a Theocratic government is a waste of time; a Theocracy is the likely outcome in any case.
Once the dust has settled, it is likely that Mubarak will be gone and the Egyptian people will have won an opportunity to chart a course for themselves; one that is very likely to be unfriendly to Western civilization, the United States and Israel. Early in the demonstrations, Nic Robertson of CNN, walked amongst the demonstrators and interviewed some of them for a better understanding of their complaints, their resolve and their future hopes. Their answers were daunting. It wasn't so much what they said but the level of calm and the matter-of-fact tone with which they said it.
In the early stages of the demonstrations, the Mubarak government accused the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) of being behind the protests and shortly thereafter, a Muslim Brotherhood spokesman said as much. Although there were those insisting that the Muslim Brotherhood's sole desire was for the 'rights' of the people only, and not political control, as the days have progressed, it has been increasingly clear that they have designs on political control . Of course they have maintained their peaceful intentions from the beginning. They were quick to say, however, if Israel made any provocative moves against Egypt. they would change their stance. In addition, on February 4th, the former Director General of the IAEA, Mohamed Elbaradei said he would not seek the presidency although later in that same day said he would leave the door open 'if the people asked him to'. Since that time, the Muslim Brotherhood has reached out to Elbaradei, seeking a coalition of sorts?! Curious for a group not interested in power.
Are you keeping up so far?
Throughout all of this, there has been a chorus of voices trying to convince the more skeptical of us in the United States, that Elbaradei is not associated with the MB even though there is mounting evidence to the contrary especially in light of how fast the MB has been willing to 'extend a hand' to him. In any case; why do we care, if the MB is the peaceful organization we are being told they are?
That same chorus of voices has been applauding the democratic desires of the protestors even though it is becoming ever increasingly obvious that the choices they make charting their collective destiny is likely to place them on a collision course with the United States, Israel and the rest of the non-Islamic world.
Today, Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton expressed 'cautious optimism' over the prospects of Muslim Brotherhood involvement in the political process there. President Obama's comments were intended to be an encouragement for the entirety of Egyptian society, we are led to believe. But his comments clearly downplayed the possibility of a Muslim Brotherhood victory indicating some elements of the Brotherhood (in Egypt) were anti-American. If the Muslim Brotherhood has not been forthright with their behavior to this point, what is that gives him any optimism and does he have any right to hang our future sovereignty and security on his personal perceptions?
Both the President and Secretary of State have displayed an astounding lack of understanding of MB vision both in Egypt and the US. They have placed our entire war footing in Central Asia in the hands of advisors who are the natural 'children' of a group poised to fill the coming power void in the nation of their birth. The advice they have received from MB has determined our strategy in Afghanistan and our commitment to spend untold billions of dollars to rebuild parts of Afghan society not made entirely clear to US taxpayers.
It should at least astonish the majority of the population to know that an organization whose charter spells out a vision for a world in which the United States is not consistent, is given so much credibility and power - especially when the President openly admits that their numbers include those hostile to the United States.
A New York Times article talks about the ambiguity in the 2004 Afghanistan Constitution concerning religious freedom. Because of inconsistencies in interpretation, Christians and new Christian converts from Islam stand the risk of being hung as apostates. Let's remember that our entire vision of that country, it's civilian population, the Taliban and the government are seen through the prism of the very same organization now vying for power in Egypt; an organization that President Obama clearly indicated had elements not friendly to the United States. The MB in the United States did not originate on Mars, they originated in Egypt. There is a shared philosophy of governance, jurisprudence and a shared recognition of the spiritual state of all peoples; some are Believers and others are Infidels. Infidels, historically, have suffered greatly under Islamic control and that can still be seen today and most remarkably, in Afghanistan.
If the President and the Secretary of State share the same view; 'cautious' optimism for the people of a foreign land, why is it they have not seen fit to show that same level of caution when selecting advisors who would, and are, governing the conduct of our Warriors on the field of battle?
Why is it apparently all right for Afghan Christians to live with uncertainty in Afghanistan, but untenable for Egyptians? And why is it all right to place our Warriors in the middle of all of that uncertainty?