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Posts Tagged ‘Middle East’

A Net Assessment of the Middle East

map-middle-east-jordanMiddle East,

By George Friedman

The term “Middle East” has become enormously elastic. The name originated with the British Foreign Office in the 19th century. The British divided the region into the Near East, the area closest to the United Kingdom and most of North Africa; the Far East, which was east of British India; and the Middle East, which was between British India and the Near East. It was a useful model for organizing the British Foreign Office and important for the region as well, since the British — and to a lesser extent the French — defined not only the names of the region but also the states that emerged in the Near and Far East.

Today, the term Middle East, to the extent that it means anything, refers to the Muslim-dominated countries west of Afghanistan and along the North African shore. With the exception of Turkey and Iran, the region is predominantly Arab and predominantly Muslim. Within this region, the British created political entities that were modeled on European nation-states. The British shaped the Arabian Peninsula, which had been inhabited by tribes forming complex coalitions, into Saudi Arabia, a state based on one of these tribes, the Sauds. The British also created Iraq and crafted Egypt into a united monarchy. Quite independent of the British, Turkey and Iran shaped themselves into secular nation-states.

This defined the two fault lines of the Middle East. The first was between European secularism and Islam. The Cold War, when the Soviets involved themselves deeply in the region, accelerated the formation of this fault line. One part of the region was secular, socialist and built around the military. Another part, particularly focused on the Arabian Peninsula, was Islamist, traditionalist and royalist. The latter was pro-Western in general, and the former — particularly the Arab parts — was pro-Soviet. It was more complex than this, of course, but this distinction gives us a reasonable framework.

The second fault line was between the states that had been created and the underlying reality of the region. The states in Europe generally conformed to the definition of nations in the 20th century. The states created by the Europeans in the Middle East did not. There was something at a lower level and at a higher level. At the lower level were the tribes, clans and ethnic groups that not only made up the invented states but also were divided by the borders. The higher level was broad religious loyalties to Islam and to the major movements of Islam, Shiism and Suniism that laid a transnational claim on loyalty. Add to this the pan-Arab movement initiated by former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who argued that the Arab states should be united into a single Arab nation.

Any understanding of the Middle East must therefore begin with the creation of a new political geography after World War I that was superimposed on very different social and political realities and was an attempt to limit the authority of broader regional and ethnic groups. The solution that many states followed was to embrace secularism or traditionalism and use them as tools to manage both the subnational groupings and the claims of the broader religiosity. One unifying point was Israel, which all opposed. But even here it was more illusion than reality. The secular socialist states, such as Egypt and Syria, actively opposed Israel. The traditional royalist states, which were threatened by the secular socialists, saw an ally in Israel.

Aftershocks From the Soviet Collapse

Following the fall of the Soviet Union and the resulting collapse of support for the secular socialist states, the power of the traditional royalties surged. This was not simply a question of money, although these states did have money. It was also a question of values. The socialist secularist movement lost its backing and its credibility. Movements such as Fatah, based on socialist secularism — and Soviet support — lost power relative to emerging groups that embraced the only ideology left: Islam. There were tremendous cross currents in this process, but one of the things to remember was that many of the socialist secular states that had begun with great promise continued to survive, albeit without the power of a promise of a new world. Rulers like Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, Syria’s Bashar al Assad and Iraq’s Saddam Hussein remained in place. Where the movement had once held promise even if its leaders were corrupt, after the Soviet Union fell, the movement was simply corrupt.

The collapse of the Soviet Union energized Islam, both because the mujahideen defeated the Soviets in Afghanistan and because the alternative to Islam was left in tatters. Moreover, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait took place in parallel with the last days of the Soviet Union. Both countries are remnants of British diplomacy. The United States, having inherited the British role in the region, intervened to protect another British invention — Saudi Arabia — and to liberate Kuwait from Iraq. From the Western standpoint, this was necessary to stabilize the region. If a regional hegemon emerged and went unchallenged, the consequences could pyramid. Desert Storm appeared to be a simple and logical operation combining the anti-Soviet coalition with Arab countries.

The experience of defeating the Soviets in Afghanistan and the secular regimes’ loss of legitimacy opened the door to two processes. In one, the subnational groupings in the region came to see the existing regimes as powerful but illegitimate. In the other, the events in Afghanistan brought the idea of a pan-Islamic resurrection back to the fore. And in the Sunni world, which won the war in Afghanistan, the dynamism of Shiite Iran — which had usurped the position of politico-military spokesman for radical Islam — made the impetus for action clear.

There were three problems. First, the radicals needed to cast pan-Islamism in a historical context. The context was the transnational caliphate, a single political entity that would abolish existing states and align political reality with Islam. The radicals reached back to the Christian Crusades for historical context, and the United States — seen as the major Christian power after its crusade in Kuwait — became the target. Second, the pan-Islamists needed to demonstrate that the United States was both vulnerable and the enemy of Islam. Third, they had to use the subnational groups in various countries to build coalitions to overthrow what were seen as corrupt Muslim regimes, in both the secular and the traditionalist worlds.

The result was al Qaeda and its campaign to force the United States to launch a crusade in the Islamic world. Al Qaeda wanted to do this by carrying out actions that demonstrated American vulnerability and compelled U.S. action. If the United States did not act, it would enhance the image of American weakness; if it did act, it would demonstrate it was a crusader hostile to Islam. U.S. action would, in turn, spark uprisings against corrupt and hypocritical Muslim states, sweep aside European-imposed borders and set the stage for uprisings. The key was to demonstrate the weakness of the regimes and their complicity with the Americans.

This led to 9/11. In the short run, it appeared that the operation had failed. The United States reacted massively to the attacks, but no uprising occurred in the region, no regimes were toppled, and many Muslim regimes collaborated with the Americans. During this time, the Americans were able to wage an aggressive war against al Qaeda and its Taliban allies. In this first phase, the United States succeeded. But in the second phase, the United States, in its desire to reshape Iraq and Afghanistan — and other countries — internally, became caught up in the subnational conflicts. The Americans got involved in creating tactical solutions rather than confronting the strategic problem, which was that waging the war was causing national institutions in the region to collapse.

In destroying al Qaeda, the Americans created a bigger problem in three parts: First, they unleashed the subnational groups. Second, where they fought they created a vacuum that they couldn’t fill. Finally, in weakening the governments and empowering the subnational groups, they made a compelling argument for the caliphate as the only institution that could govern the Muslim world effectively and the only basis for resisting the United States and its allies. In other words, where al Qaeda failed to trigger a rising against corrupt governments, the United States managed to destroy or compromise a range of the same governments, opening the door to transnational Islam.

The Arab Spring was mistaken for a liberal democratic rising like 1989 in Eastern Europe. More than anything else, it was a rising by a pan-Islamic movement that largely failed to topple regimes and embroiled one, Syria, in a prolonged civil war. That conflict has a subnational component — various factions divided against each other that give the al Qaeda-derived Islamic State room to maneuver. It also provided a second impetus to the ideal of a caliphate. Not only were the pan-Islamists struggling against the American crusader, but they were fighting Shiite heretics — in service of the Sunni caliphate — as well. The Islamic State put into place the outcome that al Qaeda wanted in 2001, nearly 15 years later and, in addition to Syria and Iraq, with movements capable of sustained combat in other Islamic countries.

A New U.S. Strategy and Its Repercussions

Around this time, the United States was forced to change strategy. The Americans were capable of disrupting al Qaeda and destroying the Iraqi army. But the U.S. ability to occupy and pacify Iraq or Afghanistan was limited. The very factionalism that made it possible to achieve the first two goals made pacification impossible. Working with one group alienated another in an ongoing balancing act that left U.S. forces vulnerable to some faction motivated to wage war because of U.S. support for another. In Syria, where the secular government was confronting a range of secular and religious but not extremist forces, along with an emerging Islamic State, the Americans were unable to meld the factionalized non-Islamic State forces into a strategically effective force. Moreover, the United States could not make its peace with the al Assad government because of its repressive policies, and it was unable to confront the Islamic State with the forces available.

In a way, the center of the Middle East had been hollowed out and turned into a whirlpool of competing forces. Between the Lebanese and Iranian borders, the region had uncovered two things: First, it showed that the subnational forces were the actual reality of the region. Second, in obliterating the Syria-Iraq border, these forces and particularly the Islamic State had created a core element of the caliphate — a transnational power or, more precisely, one that transcended borders.

The American strategy became an infinitely more complex variation of President Ronald Reagan’s policy in the 1980s: Allow the warring forces to war. The Islamic State turned the fight into a war on Shiite heresy and on established nation states. The region is surrounded by four major powers: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Turkey. Each has approached the situation differently. Each of these nations has internal factions, but each state has been able to act in spite of that. Put differently, three of them are non-Arab powers, and the one Arab power, Saudi Arabia, is perhaps the most concerned about internal threats.

For Iran, the danger of the Islamic State is that it would recreate an effective government in Baghdad that could threaten Iran again. Thus, Tehran has maintained support for the Iraqi Shiites and for the al Assad government, while trying to limit al Assad’s power.

For Saudi Arabia, which has aligned with Sunni radical forces in the past, the Islamic State represents an existential threat. Its call for a transnational Islamic movement has the potential to resonate with Saudis from the Wahhabi tradition. The Saudis, along with some other Gulf Cooperation Council members and Jordan, are afraid of Islamic State transnationalism but also of Shiite power in Iraq and Syria. Riyadh needs to contain the Islamic State without conceding the ground to the Shiites.

For the Israelis, the situation has been simultaneously outstanding and terrifying. It has been outstanding because it has pitted Israel’s enemies against each other. Al Assad’s government has in the past supported Hezbollah against Israel. The Islamic State represents a long-term threat to Israel. So long as they fought, Israel’s security would be enhanced. The problem is that in the end someone will win in Syria, and that force might be more dangerous than anything before it, particularly if the Islamic State ideology spreads to Palestine. Ultimately, al Assad is less dangerous than the Islamic State, which shows how bad the Israeli choice is in the long run.

It is the Turks — or at least the Turkish government that suffered a setback in the recently concluded parliamentary elections — who are the most difficult to understand. They are hostile to the al Assad government — so much so that they see the Islamic State as less of a threat. There are two ways to explain their view: One is that they expect the Islamic State to be defeated by the United States in the end and that involvement in Syria would stress the Turkish political system. The other is that they might be less averse than others in the region to the Islamic State’s winning. While the Turkish government has vigorously denied such charges, rumors of support to at least some factions of the Islamic State have persisted, suspicions in Western capitals linger, and alleged shipments of weaponry to unknown parties in Syria by the Turkish intelligence organization were a dominant theme in Turkey’s elections. This is incomprehensible, unless the Turks see the Islamic State as a movement that they can control in the end and that is paving the way for Turkish power in the region — or unless the Turks believe that a direct confrontation would lead to a backlash from the Islamic State in Turkey itself.

The Islamic State’s Role in the Region

The Islamic State represents a logical continuation of al Qaeda, which triggered both a sense of Islamic power and shaped the United States into a threat to Islam. The Islamic State created a military and political framework to exploit the situation al Qaeda created. Its military operations have been impressive, ranging from the seizure of Mosul to the taking of Ramadi and Palmyra. Islamic State fighters’ flexibility on the battlefield and ability to supply large numbers of forces in combat raises the question of where they got the resources and the training.

However, the bulk of Islamic State fighters are still trapped within their cauldron, surrounded by three hostile powers and an enigma. The hostile powers collaborate, but they also compete. The Israelis and the Saudis are talking. This is not new, but for both sides there is an urgency that wasn’t there in the past. The Iranian nuclear program is less important to the Americans than collaboration with Iran against the Islamic State. And the Saudis and other Gulf countries have forged an air capability used in Yemen that might be used elsewhere if needed.

It is likely that the cauldron will hold, so long as the Saudis are able to sustain their internal political stability. But the Islamic State has already spread beyond the cauldron — operating in Libya, for example. Many assume that these forces are Islamic State in name only — franchises, if you will. But the Islamic State does not behave like al Qaeda. It explicitly wants to create a caliphate, and that wish should not be dismissed. At the very least, it is operating with the kind of centralized command and control, on the strategic level, that makes it far more effective than other non-state forces we have seen.

Secularism in the Muslim world appears to be in terminal retreat. The two levels of struggle within that world are, at the top, Sunni versus Shiite, and at the base, complex and interacting factions. The Western world accepted domination of the region from the Ottomans and exercised it for almost a century. Now, the leading Western power lacks the force to pacify the Islamic world. Pacifying a billion people is beyond anyone’s capability. The Islamic State has taken al Qaeda’s ideology and is attempting to institutionalize it. The surrounding nations have limited options and a limited desire to collaborate. The global power lacks the resources to both defeat the Islamic State and control the insurgency that would follow. Other nations, such as Russia, are alarmed by the Islamic State’s spread among their own Muslim populations.

It is interesting to note that the fall of the Soviet Union set in motion the events we are seeing here. It is also interesting to note that the apparent defeat of al Qaeda opened the door for its logical successor, the Islamic State. The question at hand, then, is whether the four regional powers can and want to control the Islamic State. And at the heart of that question is the mystery of what Turkey has in mind, particularly as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s power appears to be declining.

Mitt Romney: A New Course for the Middle East

Restore the three sinews of American influence: our economic strength, our military strength and the strength of our values.

By MITT ROMNEY

Disturbing developments are sweeping across the greater Middle East. In Syria, tens of thousands of innocent people have been slaughtered. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood has come to power, and the country’s peace treaty with Israel hangs in the balance. In Libya, our ambassador was murdered in a terrorist attack. U.S. embassies throughout the region have been stormed in violent protests. And in Iran, the ayatollahs continue to move full tilt toward nuclear-weapons capability, all the while promising to annihilate Israel.

These developments are not, as President Obama says, mere “bumps in the road.” They are major issues that put our security at risk.

Yet amid this upheaval, our country seems to be at the mercy of events rather than shaping them. We’re not moving them in a direction that protects our people or our allies.

And that’s dangerous. If the Middle East descends into chaos, if Iran moves toward nuclear breakout, or if Israel’s security is compromised, America could be pulled into the maelstrom.

We still have time to address these threats, but it will require a new strategy toward the Middle East.

The first step is to understand how we got here. Since World War II, America has been the leader of the Free World. We’re unique in having earned that role not through conquest but through promoting human rights, free markets and the rule of law. We ally ourselves with like-minded countries, expand prosperity through trade and keep the peace by maintaining a military second to none.

But in recent years, President Obama has allowed our leadership to atrophy. Our economy is stuck in a “recovery” that barely deserves the name. Our national debt has risen to record levels. Our military, tested by a decade of war, is facing devastating cuts thanks to the budgetary games played by the White House. Finally, our values have been misapplied—and misunderstood—by a president who thinks that weakness will win favor with our adversaries.
By failing to maintain the elements of our influence and by stepping away from our allies, President Obama has heightened the prospect of conflict and instability. He does not understand that an American policy that lacks resolve can provoke aggression and encourage disorder.

The Middle East is a case in point. The Arab Spring presented an opportunity to help move millions of people from oppression to freedom. But it also presented grave risks. We needed a strategy for success, but the president offered none. And now he seeks to downplay the significance of the calamities of the past few weeks.

The same incomprehension afflicts the president’s policy toward Israel. The president began his term with the explicit policy of creating “daylight” between our two countries. He recently downgraded Israel from being our “closest ally” in the Middle East to being only “one of our closest allies.” It’s a diplomatic message that will be received clearly by Israel and its adversaries alike. He dismissed Israel’s concerns about Iran as mere “noise” that he prefers to “block out.” And at a time when Israel needs America to stand with it, he declined to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In this period of uncertainty, we need to apply a coherent strategy of supporting our partners in the Middle East—that is, both governments and individuals who share our values.

This means restoring our credibility with Iran. When we say an Iranian nuclear-weapons capability—and the regional instability that comes with it—is unacceptable, the ayatollahs must be made to believe us.

It means placing no daylight between the United States and Israel. And it means using the full spectrum of our soft power to encourage liberty and opportunity for those who have for too long known only corruption and oppression. The dignity of work and the ability to steer the course of their lives are the best alternatives to extremism.

But this Middle East policy will be undermined unless we restore the three sinews of our influence: our economic strength, our military strength and the strength of our values. That will require a very different set of policies from those President Obama is pursuing.

The 20th century became an American Century because we were steadfast in defense of freedom. We made the painful sacrifices necessary to defeat totalitarianism in all of its guises. To defend ourselves and our allies, we paid the price in treasure and in soldiers who never came home.

Our challenges are different now, but if the 21st century is to be another American Century, we need leaders who understand that keeping the peace requires American strength in all of its dimensions.

Mr. Romney is the Republican Party candidate for president.

Bilderberg conference 2011: agenda overview

by NEWWORLDORDER on JUNE 12, 2011

 

According several inside sources, the Bilderberg 2011 agenda included a number of critical issues at the top of the elite’s to-do list.

These breakdown as follows:

Arab Spring:

The elite are concerned that the American Congress may soon turn against the illegal and immoral invasion under humanitarian cover by NATO and the UN against the north African dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Congress is rising in opposition to bogus wars launched by the executive branch in violation of the Constitution. More than a third of House Republicans voted to pull out of the NATO coalition attacking Gaddafi’s forces, in essence forcing a NATO withdrawal from the color revolution engineered civil war in that country.

The elite behind closed doors in Switzerland are pushing for a wider war and incalculable suffering in the Middle East. The money masters have long profited from war and mass murder: Nathan Rothschild made a financial bet on Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo  while also funding the Duke of Wellington’s peninsular campaign against Napoleon. The House of Rothschild financed the Prussian War, the Crimean War and the British attempt to seize the Suez Canal from the Frenchand also financed the Mexican War and the Civil War in the U.S.

Internet Censorship:

In addition to worrying about Congress waking up to the Libyan scam, the global elite is also concerned about a diverse liberty movement that has grown exponentially with the help of an open and free internet. In response, the pocketed pawns in Congress have introduced a raft of bills over the last few months designed to take down the internet and blunt its impact as a medium for alternative news and information.

On the international front, the European Commission gave a nod toward implementing the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), a draconian measure that will subvert national sovereignty, trash Net Neutrality, consumer privacy, and civil liberties. In the United States, the corporate media has virtually ignored ACTA, but then key players in the Mockingbird media are often Bilderberg attendees and privy to aspects of the agenda.

The above represent a small sampling of legislation and treaties that will be used to shut down the opposition under the cover of protecting copyright and preventing terrorism.

The globalists are not opposed to the internet, especially as a corporatized money-making instrument. They are, however, opposed to an open, free, and unregulated by government internet where alternative media opposed to their globalist devices are allowed to thrive. In addition, we can expect minions of the global elite who parade around as our elected representatives and appointed government officials to continue their propaganda efforts to convince the people that the internet will be used as a terrorist weapon of mass destruction and as such needs to be tightly regulated – for our own safety, of course, and that of the children.

Prolonging the economic crisis:

Finally, the Bilderbergers will work on an effort to continue into further fantastic debt producing bankster bailouts, specifically for Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and other member EU nations sliding toward bankruptcy and social disruption on a monumental scale.

Oil prices will skyrocket – a faith accomplished with gas prices at the pump now at historically high levels – as the global elite work behind the scenes to take take down national economies. New revelations also deal with the death of the dollar, exploding energy prices, and the engineered onset of order out of chaos revolution worldwide.

Because the plan is to take down national sovereignty, impose drastic austerity measures, hold fire sales on national assets, consolidate wealth and power, and use an endless economic crisis as an excuse to usher in world government, a one-world currency, and a sprawling high-tech police state.

New head of the IMF decision:

It was reported that the new IMF head would be decided at the Bilderberg meeting. A prominent attendee to the elitist gathering has been entered into the race to become the IMF head at the eleventh hour.

Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer, an insider favorite of Bilderberg and multiple time attendee, announced his intention to bid to become the replacement managing director of the IMF, taking the position previously held by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, himself a former Bilderberg attendee. Fischer is also a member of The Council on Foreign Relations and The Trilateral Commission.

Strauss-Kahn stepped down from the position after it was alleged he attempted to rape a hotel maid. Some believe Strauss-Kahn was set-up in order to remove him from the IMF.

A three way race is now in place between Fischer, Mexican central banker Agustín Carstens and French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde.

Both Carstens and Lagarde have embarked on tours to promote their bids and will be joined now by Stanley Fischer.

Over-population:

Jim Tucker’s anonymous steering level Bilderberg inside source told him war in the Middle East is at the top of the elite’s agenda.

The long time Bilderberg sleuth said the elite believe the world is over-populated and war represents a partial solution.

“They are unified on their war project,” said Tucker, citing his Trilateralist-Bilderberg source, “their rationalize the world is too crowded anyway, they have to limit the population growth, the one way to do it is with wars. They have been emphasizing that all day.”

Bilderberg Conference awareness and coverage:

Picture

Tucker also said the elite are outraged by the patriot movement and the alternative media’s coverage of the Bilderberg meetings and the release of information by moles and insiders. He said the elite attempted to get media magnate Rupert Murdoch to convince The Guardian in the United Kingdom and the Irish Times to scale back their reportage on the Bilderbergers, but he was unable to do so.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GehoGXyS6R0&feature=player_embedded#![/youtube]

Tucker’s sources also said the Bilderbergers are stunned about the presence of demonstrators and alternative media.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1tLFuI58_g&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

Great 21 century war looming, Egypt & Libya just brush fires

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-SiSlzYhiFU[/youtube]

The New Middle East

By CAROLINE B. GLICK

If the mullahs aren’t overthrown, the New Middle East will be a very dark and dangerous place.

A new Middle East is upon us and its primary beneficiary couldn’t be happier. In a speech Monday in the Iranian city of Kermanshah, Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Politburo Chief Gen. Yadollah Javani crowed, “Iran’s pivotal role in the New Middle East is undeniable.

Today the Islamic Revolution of the Iranian nation enjoys such a power, honor and respect in the world that all nations and governments wish to have such a ruling system.”

Iran’s leaders have eagerly thrown their newfound weight around. For instance, Iran is challenging Saudi Arabia’s ability to guarantee the stability of global oil markets.

For generations, the stability of global oil supplies has been guaranteed by Saudi Arabia’s reserve capacity that could be relied on to make up for any shocks to those supplies due to political unrest or other factors. When Libya’s teetering dictator Muammar Gaddafi decided to shut down Libya’s oil exports last month, the oil markets reacted with a sharp increase in prices. The very next day the Saudis announced they would make up the shortfall from Libya’s withdrawal from the export market.

In the old Middle East, the Saudi statement would never have been questioned. Oil suppliers and purchasers alike accepted the arrangement whereby Saudi Arabian reserves – defended by the US military – served as the guarantor of the oil economy. But in the New Middle East, Iran feels comfortable questioning the Saudi role.

On Thursday, Iran’s Oil Minister Massoud Mirkazemi urged Saudi Arabia to refrain from increasing production. Mirkazemi argued that since the OPEC oil cartel has not discussed increasing supplies, Saudi Arabia had no right to increase its oil output.

True, Iran’s veiled threat did not stop Saudi Arabia from increasing its oil production by 500,000 barrels per day. But the fact that Iran feels comfortable telling the Saudis what they can and cannot do with their oil demonstrates the mullocracy’s new sense of empowerment.

And it makes sense. With each passing day, the Iranian regime is actively destabilizing Saudi Arabia’s neighbors and increasing its influence over Saudi Arabia’s Shiite minority in the kingdom’s Eastern Province where most of its oil is located.

Perhaps moved by the political unrest in Bahrain and Yemen, Saudi regime opponents including Saudi Arabia’s Shi’ite minority have stepped up their acts of political opposition. The Saudi royal family has sought to buy off its opponents by showering its subjects with billions of dollars in new subsidies and payoffs. But still the tide of dissent rises.

Saudi regime opponents have scheduled political protests for March 11 and March 20. In an attempt to blunt the force of the demonstrations, Saudi security forces arrested Tawfiq al- Amir, a prominent Shi’ite cleric from the Eastern Province. On February 25, Amir delivered a sermon calling for the transformation of the kingdom into a constitutional monarchy.

Iran has used his arrest to pressure the Saudi regime. In an interview with Iran’s Fars news agency this week, Iranian parliamentarian and regime heavyweight Mohammed Dehqan warned the Saudis not to try to quell the growing unrest. As he put it, the Saudi leaders “should know that the Saudi people have become vigilant and do not allow the rulers of the country to commit any possible crime against them.”

Dehqan continued, “Considering that the developments in Bahrain and Yemen affect the situation in Saudi Arabia, the [regime] feels grave danger and interferes in the internal affairs of these states.”

Dehqan’s statement is indicative of the mullah’s confidence in the direction the region is taking.

In testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged that Iran is deeply involved in all the anti-regime protests and movements from Egypt to Yemen to Bahrain and beyond.

“Either directly or through proxies, they are constantly trying to influence events. They have a very active diplomatic foreign policy outreach,” Clinton said.

Iranian officials, Hezbollah and Hamas terrorists and other Iranian agents have played pivotal roles in the anti-regime movements in Yemen and Bahrain. Their operations are the product of Iran’s long-running policy of developing close ties to opposition figures in these countries as well as in Egypt, Kuwait, Oman and Morocco.

These long-developed ties are reaping great rewards for Iran today. Not only do these connections give the Iranians the ability to influence the policies of post-revolutionary allied regimes.

They give the mullahs and their allies the ability to intimidate the likes of the Saudi and Bahraini royals and force them to appease Iran’s allies.

THIS MEANS that Iran’s mullahs win no matter how the revolts pan out. If weakened regimes maintain power by appeasing Iran’s allies in the opposition – as they are trying to do in Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Algeria, Bahrain, Oman and Yemen – then Iranian influence over the weakened regimes will grow substantially. And if Iran’s allies topple the regimes, then Iran’s influence will increase even more steeply.

Moreover, Iran’s preference for proxy wars and asymmetric battles is served well by the current instability. Iran’s proxies – from Hezbollah to al- Qaida to Hamas – operate best in weak states.

From Hezbollah’s operations in South Lebanon in the 1980s and 1990s, to the Iranian-sponsored Iraqi insurgents in recent years and beyond, Iran has exploited weak central authorities to undermine pro-Western governments, weaken Israel and diminish US regional influence.

In the midst of Egypt’s revolutionary violence, Iran quickly deployed its Hamas proxies to Sinai.

Since Mubarak’s fall, Iran has worked intensively to expand its proxy forces’ capacity to operate freely in Sinai.

Recognition of Iran’s expanded power is fast altering the international community’s perception of the regional balance of forces. Russia’s announcement last Saturday that it will sell Syria the Yakhont supersonic anti-ship cruise missile was a testament to Iran’s rising regional power and the US’s loss of power.

Russia signed a deal to provide the missiles to Syria in 2007. But Moscow abstained from supplying them until now – just after Iran sailed its naval ships unmolested to Syria through the Suez Canal and signed a naval treaty with Syria effectively fusing the Iranian and Syrian navies.

So, too, Russia’s announcement that it sides with Iran’s ally Turkey in its support for reducing UN Security Council sanctions against Iran indicates that the US no longer has the regional posture necessary to contain Iran on the international stage.

Iran’s increased regional power and its concomitant expanded leverage in international oil markets will make it impossible for the US to win UN Security Council support for more stringent sanctions against Tehran. Obviously, UN Security Council-sanctioned military action against Iran’s nuclear installations is out of the question.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration has failed completely to understand what is happening.

Clinton told the House of Representatives and the Senate that Iran’s increased power means that the US should continue to arm and fund Iran’s allies and support the so-called democratic forces that are allied with Iran.

So it was that Clinton told the Senate that the Obama administration thinks it is essential to continue to supply the Hezbollah-controlled Lebanese military with US arms. Clinton claimed that she couldn’t say what Hezbollah control over the Lebanese government meant regarding the future of US ties to Lebanon.

So, too, while Palestinian Authority leaders burn President Barack Obama in effigy and seek to form a unity government with Iran’s Hamas proxy, Clinton gave an impassioned defense of US funding for the PA to the House Foreign Relations Committee this week.

Clinton’s behavior bespeaks a stunning failure to understand the basic realities she and the State Department she leads are supposed to shape. Her lack of comprehension is matched only by her colleague Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ lack of shame and nerve. In a press conference this week, Gates claimed that Iran is weakened by the populist waves in the Arab world because Iran’s leaders are violently oppressing their political opponents.

In light of the Obama administration’s refusal to use US military force for even the most minor missions – like evacuating US citizens from Libya – without UN approval, it is apparent that the US will not use armed force against Iran for as long as Obama is in power.

And given the administration’s refusal to expend any effort to protect US interests and allies in the region lest the US be accused of acting like a superpower, it is clear that US allies like the Saudis will not be able to depend on America to defend the regime. This is the case despite the fact that its overthrow would threaten the US’s core regional interests.

AGAINST THIS backdrop, it is clear that the only way to curb Iran’s influence in the region and so strike a major blow against its rising Shi’ite-Sunni jihadist alliance is to actively support the prodemocracy regime opponents in Iran’s Green Movement. The only chance of preventing Iran from plunging the region into war and bloodshed is if the regime is overthrown.

So long as the Iranian regime remains in power, it will be that much harder for the Egyptians to build an open democracy or for the Saudis to open the kingdom to liberal voices and influences. The same is true of almost every country in the region. Iran is the primary regional engine of war, terror, nuclear proliferation and instability. As long as the regime survives, it will be difficult for liberal forces in the region to gain strength and influence.

On February 24, the mullahs reportedly arrested opposition leaders Mir Hossain Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi along with their wives. It took the Obama administration several days to even acknowledge the arrests, let alone denounce them.

In the face of massive regime violence, Iran’s anti-regime protesters are out in force in cities throughout the country demanding their freedom and a new regime. And yet, aside from paying lip service to their bravery, neither the US nor any other government has come forward to help them. No one has supplied Iran’s embattled revolutionaries with proxy servers after the regime brought down their Internet communications networks. No one has given them arms.

No one has demanded that Iran be thrown out of all UN bodies pending the regime’s release of the Mousavis and Karroubis and the thousands of political prisoners being tortured in the mullah’s jails. No one has stepped up to fund around-the-clock anti-regime broadcasts into Iran to help regime opponents organize and coordinate their operations. Certainly no one has discussed instituting a no-fly zone over Iran to protect the protesters.

With steeply rising oil prices and the real prospect of al-Qaida taking over Yemen, Iranian proxies taking over Bahrain, and the Muslim Brotherhood controlling Egypt, some Americans are recognizing that not all revolutions are Washingtonian.

But there is a high likelihood that an Iranian revolution would be. At a minimum, a democratic Iran would be far less dangerous to the region and the world than the current regime.

The Iranians are right. We are moving into a new Middle East. And if the mullahs aren’t overthrown, the New Middle East will be a very dark and dangerous place.

caroline@carolineglick.com

Marco Rubio and Freshman Senate Republicans Split with Rand Paul on Israel

April 7, 2011  by Javier Manjarres

Senator Marco Rubio along with his other fellow freshman Senators signed and sent a letter to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell reaffirming their belief that the United States must continue support the country of our staunchest ally in Middle East, Israel. Rubio’s letter specifically calls for the continued fiscal support of our allies, including Israel.

“As freshmen Senators, we campaigned on the need to restore fiscal responsibility to our government. The current path is fiscally unsustainable and will have negative consequences for economic growth and prosperity. As we work to reduce wasteful government spending, we recognize that providing for the national defense is a constitutional responsibility of the federal government. Therefore, we must continue to prioritize the safety of our nation and the security of our allies, including Israel. In recent weeks, we have witnessed a succession of mass protests and turmoil in the Middle East. While we hope these events will open the region to freedom and democracy, the final outcome of this upheaval is far from clear. Given the uncertainty of these events, and in light of the ongoing threats from Hezbollah, Hamas and a nuclear Iran, we believe that U.S. security assistance to Israel will continue to be a key national security interest.

Therefore, as the Senate considers our foreign affairs priorities, we recommend fully honoring America’s commitment to Israel under the U.S.-Israeli Memorandum of Understanding.” – Senator Marco Rubio

It’s clear that the Senate freshmen believe in spite of our current fiscal crisis, the United States must not cut back on spending that directly affects the national security of the United States, as Israel is becoming increasingly isolated and militant Islamic fundamentalism continues its resurgence in the region.

Freshman Kentucky Senator Rand Paul did not sign the letter, presumably because he believes that the United States needs to cut ‘all’ foreign aid including vital military aid to Israel. While the scope of Paul’s domestic spending cuts are very commendable as is his call for foreign aid to be re-evaluated across the board, Paul’s thinking as it relates to military aid to our allies is very short sighted. Islamic Fundamentalists view the United States and Israel as inextricably linked adversaries, and as our partner and ally, Israel is our first line of defense in the region.

Earlier this year, Senator Rubio all but said he would not join the Senate Tea Party Caucus which was spearheaded by Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee of Utah (who did sign the letter), and then reiterated his unwavering support for Israel; while Paul suggested that all forms of aid to Israel needed to be ended. Will Paul come to the realization that in spite of our present budgetary woes, Sharia-compliant Islam is a grave threat that must contend with either directly or through friendly nations that would engage this threat as proxies for the U.S.?

Palin Doctrine Emerges as Arab League Echoes Her Demarche on Libya

By BENYAMIN KORN, Special to the Sun | March 16, 2011

The call by the Arab League for Western military intervention in an Arab state — in this case asking that a UN “no-fly zone” be imposed over Libya – is not only without precedent but it puts in formal terms what Governor Palin stated three weeks ago should have been America’s response to the political and humanitarian crisis now unfolding there.

The former GOP vice presidential candidate was being interviewed on February 23rd on national television by Sean Hannity on a range of issues. On the Libya crisis, she proposed a no-fly-zone to protect the armed and un-armed opposition to the Qaddafi regime. Mrs. Palin’s formulation had been blogged about for nearly a week when it was echoed by the man who, before the Iraq war, had led the Iraq democratic movement in exile, Ahmed Chalabi.

A long-time foe of Saddam Hussein who has emerged as a leading figure in Iraq’s democratically elected legislature. Mr Chalabi recounted in the Wall Street Journal how President George H. W. Bush’s 1991 call for a popular uprising against Saddam had been heeded by the Iraqi people, only to have Saddam then murder some 30,000 of them from helicopter gunships while the Western world stood by.

Not again, Mr. Chalabi pleaded in his essay, and explicitly demanded a Libyan no-fly-zone. But it now it seems Qaddafi will be allowed to repeat a Saddam-style repression, even as President Obama, and the rest of what he likes to call the international community, is “watching carefully.”

Mrs. Palin also continues to link America’s energy policy — a realm in which she has experience — and U.S. foreign and anti-terrorism policies. She recognizes that the ongoing transfer of billions of U.S. petro-dollars to unstable or even hostile Mideast regimes has, since the formation in 1973 of the Organization of Petoleum Exporting Countries, been an drain on U.S. financial resources.

In a critique of Mr. Obama’s energy policies published yesterday at about the same time the Arab League was adopting her prescription for a Libya no-fly-zone, Mrs. Palin laid out how the president’s “war on domestic oil and gas exploration and production has caused us pain at the pump, endangered our already sluggish economic recovery, and threatened our national security.” Nor is Gov. Palin’s insight into complex international issues limited to areas of her immediate expertise.

The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin — certainly no knee-jerk advocate for Sarah Palin — wrote just a few weeks ago that Palin turns out to have been correct in the prediction she made to Barbara Walters, in a much-noted November 2009 interview. Palin stated she was opposed to Obama’s opposition to Israel’s settlement policies because “[m]ore and more Jewish people will be flocking to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead.” Now, as Rubin noted, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics confirms that the pace of immigration to Israel rose 14% to 16,633 from the level in 2009, most coming from Russia or America.

Mrs. Palin will be in New Delhi later this week delivering the keynote address to the annual India Today Conclave. She has been asked to speak on “What America Means to Me.” She will speak as a crisis is simmering between America and Pakistan, India’s nuclear-armed neighbor to the northwest and will be the first high profile trip by a potential Republican contender to South Asia.

More broadly, Mrs. Palin’s address in India will be another step in the growing outline of what might be called The Palin Doctrine. It contrasts sharply with the foreign policy being conducted, if that is the word, by President Obama, who is perplexing not only the Arab world, to which he reached out in his Cairo speech at the start of his presidency, but even his own supporters in the liberal camp, and many in between, who are upset by what might be called his propensity for inaction. It’s an inaction that suggests the Arab League won’t be the only institution that might find itself surprised by the logic of the alert Alaskan.

Mr. Korn, director of Jewish Americans for Sarah Palin, holds a degree in international relations from Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Soros-paid Scribes Cover Their Tracks in Egypt

In attempting to explain how lobbyists get U.S. foreign aid for Egypt, journalist Pratap Chatterjee of the George Soros-funded Center for American Progress writes that Tony Podesta, “the brother of a former White House chief of staff,” joined with Toby Moffett, a former Democratic Congressman, and Bob Livingston, a former Republican Congressman, to create a lobbying organization, the PLM Group, to represent Egypt in Washington.

He wrote, “The Livingston Group made the largest number of contacts with the U.S. government for the Egyptians to make sure that this money continued to flow, but they were not the only ones. Tony Podesta, the brother of a former White House chief of staff, and Toby Moffett, a former Democratic Congressman, joined forces with Livingston to create the PLM Group to represent Egypt in Washington, according to foreign-agent records at the Justice Department.”;

See Related Report: Congress Must Investigate Support for Muslim Brotherhood and Revolutionary Socialists

The reference to that “former White House chief of staff” was meant to suggest that Tony Podesta has real clout and influence, especially in Democratic Party circles. But who is that “former White House chief of staff?” And why wasn’t he named?

What Chatterjee did not want to openly acknowledge, for obvious reasons, is that this unnamed brother of lobbyist Tony Podesta is none other than John Podesta, his boss at the Center for American Progress (CAP). John Podesta, former Clinton chief of staff, is the President and CEO of CAP.

Politico reported that Tony and John Podesta started Podesta Associates in the late 1980s and that it was later renamed the Podesta Group. So John Podesta was in on this money-making scheme from the start. Soros subsequently asked John Podesta to run the Center for American Progress, whoseforeign policy expert, Brian Katulis, has been arguing on MSNBC that the U.S. ought to pull the plug on the Hosni Mubarak government in Egypt and deal with the Muslim Brotherhood.

In other words, the Podesta brothers are on both sides of this international crisis.

Chatterjee, who also contributes to the British Guardian, echoes the views of many on the left. He is upset that the lobbyists making over $1 million a year from Egypt succeeded in getting military training and tear gas shells supplied to the Egyptian military. That tear gas provided to what he calls Egypt’s “military-industrial complex” has been used against pro-democracy protesters in Egypt.

Chatterjee is right in the middle of this, having joined the Center for American Progress in September 2010 as a Visiting Fellow. His writing has won an award from “Project Censored,” but he engaged in some news manipulation of his own by omitting the name of John Podesta from his column on influence peddling. It’s a matter of not biting the hand that feeds you.

 

Before he opened fire on lobbying for the Egyptian government, Chatterjee was on his assigned mission, attacking Republicans for considering cuts in the federal budget. One article asserted that federal workers were not overpaid. Another article attacked Republicans for proposing a federal hiring freeze.

 

Now, however, he has taken a carefully guarded look at lobbying interests that involve his boss. But as the curious omission of the name of John Podesta suggests, however, don’t expect to see any follow-up investigations into the activities of the Podesta Group from Chatterjee. The author of Halliburton’s Army, published by Nation Books, Chatterjee cannot be counted on to write a follow-up on the “Soros Army.”;

As we have argued, Soros’s multibillion dollar international business and influence network makes Halliburton look like a Mom ‘n Pop operation.

Interestingly, it turns out that the Podesta Group has some journalists of its own on its payroll, including:

·         John Ward Anderson, a former foreign correspondent with The Washington Post and contributing editor of Politico.

·         David Marin, said to be an “award-winning journalist” with “extensive relationships with the national, regional and trade press.”

Speaking of curious omissions, John Podesta’s bio at the website of the Center for American Progress makes no mention of his role in forming Podesta Associates with his brother. Strangely, hisbio at the site of the Center for American Progress Action Fund does include this information.

Speaking of biographies, one for Chatterjee says that he has served as a board and staff member with many “activist groups,” including Project Underground. The latter was “a Berkeley, CA-based human rights and environmental group” devoted to “supporting the human rights of communities resisting mining and oil exploitation.” It folded in 2000 but had been attacking Republicans and even Al Gore as pawns of Big Oil. (Gore had extensive ties to Occidental Petroleum). In 2009, all of this was forgotten as Gore appeared with John Podesta and Senator Harry Reid at a CAP-sponsored “Clean Energy Summit.”

Politico has since reported that the lobbyists in the Podesta Group and the Livingston Group had lobbied on the issue of a Senate resolution calling for free elections in Egypt. The story didn’t mention that a former Politico editor, John Ward Anderson, now works for the Podesta Group.

Anderson’s wife, Molly Moore, who also was a reporter for the Post, left the paper for Sanderson Strategies Group, “a communications company” also active politically.

This curious network of special interests is standard for Washington, D.C. For that reason, we need an adversary media willing to look beneath the surface. And this is why George Soros’s buying of reporters (He is giving $1.8 million to buy journalists at National Public Radio) works against the public’s right to know.

Fortunately, Joseph Farah’s WorldNetDaily is working to blow the lid off. WND’s Aaron Klein hasbroken the news that the Soros-led International Crisis Group (ICG) issued a 2008 report urging Egyptian government acceptance of the pro-terrorist Muslim Brotherhood.

One key ICG member, Klein notes, is Robert Malley, a former adviser to Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign. Malley resigned after it was exposed he had communicated with Hamas, a Muslim Brotherhood off-shoot. His father, Simon Malley, was an important figure in the Egyptian Communist Party.

 

 

Collapse of Internationalism

The Wall Street Journal   MARCH 17, 2011  By DANIEL HENNINGER

The Obama foreign-policy team utterly fails its first real-world test in Libya.

Not the 28 members of NATO, not the 15-member U.N. Security Council, not the 22 nations of the Arab League could save Libya’s rebels from being obliterated by the mad and murderous Moammar Gadhafi. The world has just watched the collapse of internationalism.

The world’s self-professed keepers of international order, from Brussels to Turtle Bay, huffed and puffed, talked and threatened. And they failed. Utterly.

But what we’ve watched is not merely the failure of the gauzy notion of “internationalism.” It’s more specific than that. What has collapsed here is the modern Democratic Party’s new foreign-policy establishment.

Barack Obama is the first Democratic president to assemble a foreign-policy team made up entirely of intellectuals who for years have developed a counter-thesis to the policies of presidents extending back to John F. Kennedy. We are in a “post-American world,” they have argued, in which the U.S. is obliged to pursue its interests in concert with the rest of the world’s powers, never alone.

The uprisings against autocracies in 10 separate Middle Eastern countries, a crisis inherited from no one, was their real-world test. In Egypt, they fumbled. In Libya, they have failed.

The poster boy for this internationalist view is White House deputy Ben Rhodes, who told a reporter last week: “This is the Obama conception of the U.S. role in the world—to work through multilateral organizations and bilateral relationships to make sure that the steps we are taking are amplified.”

Days later, bemused Libyan rebel spokesman Essam Gheriani remarked in Benghazi: “Everyone here is puzzled as to how many casualties the international community judges to be enough for them to help. Maybe we should start committing suicide to reach the required number.”


Mr. Rhodes’ view isn’t just briefingspeak. The new Democratic theory of the proper U.S. role in the world was articulated in a July 2008 document, “Strategic Leadership: Framework for a 21st Century National Security Strategy.” It described itself as “an intellectual and policy blueprint for the next administration.”

Its authors included James B. Steinberg, who is now Mr. Obama’s deputy secretary of state; Ivo Daalder, now U.S. ambassador to NATO; and Anne-Marie Slaughter, until a month ago the State Department’s director of policy planning. Susan Rice, who is now our ambassador to the United Nations, wrote the preface.

Their blueprint, a tour of the world’s regions, counsels constant multilateral cooperation, institution-building and consultation. While it admits U.S. preeminence, it is largely a meditation on the limits of American power and authority. This is the document’s final, summarizing sentence: “And such [U.S.] leadership recognizes that in a world in which power has diffused, our interests are best protected and advanced when others step up and at times lead alongside or even ahead of us.”

In the Middle East, no one has stepped up, no one is leading alongside and our allies are in the rear, accomplishing nothing while they wait for . . . America.

This was a test case, and what we have seen is that a world in which the U.S. doesn’t unmistakably lead is a world that spins its wheels, and eventually the wheels start to come off. When the U.S. instructs the Saudis not to intervene in Bahrain, and the Saudi army does precisely the opposite, the wheels are coming off the international order.

The Obama foreign-policy team utterly fails its first real-world test in Libya.
In an op-ed piece for the New York Times this week, “Fiddling While Libya Burns,” the recently departed State Department planner Anne-Marie Slaughter wrote a cri de coeur on behalf of doing something for Libya. “The United States and Europe are temporizing on a no-flight zone,” she wrote. It was a remarkable call to action—until the final two paragraphs. She concludes that the U.S. “should ask the Security Council to authorize a no-flight zone,” (by asking Russia and China to abstain). If that works, then with the Arab League, we “should assemble an international coalition to impose the no-flight zone.” Finally, failing all that, we should work with the Arab League to give the Libyan opposition “any assistance it requests.”

But Benghazi will be dead by the time this calibration grinds down to Ms. Slaughter’s bottom line. After Mr. Obama met with his national security team Tuesday, with Gadhafi one demolished town from Benghazi, the White House said, “The President instructed his team to continue to fully engage in the discussions at the United Nations, NATO and with partners and organizations in the region.” Barack Obama is following their blueprint to a tee.

In a better world, James Steinberg, Ivo Daalder and Susan Rice would join Ms. Slaughter in resigning and calling for action to save Benghazi from outside the government. Being inside is manifestly useless. They are defaulting the U.S. into a dangerous irrelevance.

Libyan rebel commander Mohammed Abdallah, in bombed-out Ajdabiya, put the spike into them Tuesday: “The hands of the international community are covered in blood.” But the “international community” was never much more than a academic abstraction, and blood, as always, can be washed off.

….Is U.S. Democracy Just Talk?

The Wall Street Journal   MARCH 10, 2011    By DANIEL HENNINGER

The U.S. needs to produce more than rhetoric on behalf of 10 active democracy protests in the Middle East.

“America is always talking about democracy and we want democracy to come to Bahrain. . . . We want them to practice what they preach, that’s all.”

–Mohammed Ansari, Bahraini

Sometimes it’s a heavy load, being America.

And it won’t stop unless some day the United States finds a reason to unburden itself of the heavy lift posed by the world’s aspiring peoples. With the Middle East protests, we may be there.

Less than a week into the massive Cairo street demonstrations, a prominent U.S. foreign policy expert pushed back against supporting them: “No one really knows a great deal about the protesters.”

When all at once the people of Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Bahrain, Algeria and even Iran (a Feb. 20 protest by tens of thousands was barely noticed) summoned the courage to take to the streets for greater freedom, the U.S. foreign-policy establishment seemed like stunned deer staring into the incandescent images on television and wondering, Who are these people?

Writing on behalf of de minimis support for the Libyans in these pages Tuesday, Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said: “It is one thing to acknowledge Moammar Gadhafi as a ruthless despot, which he has demonstrated himself to be. But doing so does not establish the democratic bona fides of those who oppose him.” A little digging surely would find something similar said in 1770 about the Massachusetts rabble.

The we-have-no-clue-who-they-are excuse is utterly lame. Scholars at places like the American Enterprise Institute, the Carnegie Middle East Center and elsewhere have been writing in detail for years about these people, pleading with the policy establishment to recognize how volatile the “stability” status quo had become.

It’s clear, however, from the tortured, unfocused U.S. reaction to these events that policy toward these nations below the level of kings had become a second-level priority. How did so many people become an afterthought?

The reason, in a phrase, is the Arab-Israeli peace process. It sucked the oxygen out of thinking about the Middle East. With every secretary of state dutifully saddling up to solve the endless riddle, the “peace process” reduced everything and everyone in the region to spear-carriers for this obsession. The populations of unemployed youth building and festering across the region became an inconsequential blur, an Arab lumpenproletariat. “We don’t know who they are.” And whoever they were had to wait until some U.S. president harvested another Nobel Prize by “solving” the Palestinian problem.

Well, they didn’t wait. They exploded in January 2011.

None of this is to gainsay the interests of the world economy in the region. But America’s leaders should not let that become an excuse to forget who they are and where they came from. Soviet-era dissidents have said and written that among the things that sustained them was that their heads were filled with the ideas drawn from America’s freedoms.

What a mess the Founding Fathers and Continental Army made for the grinders at the State Department, this week producing exquisite calibrations of America’s interests. We now read in news analyses and opinion columns long lists of reasons why helping the Libyan rebels would backfire. What this means is that U.S. intervention won’t come until, as in Srebrenica or Kosovo, Gadhafi’s killings escalate from mere slaughter to mass murder. Europe acquiesced in the Balkan genocide, but the U.S. could not, an important distinction of global status.

What is happening here is not just another crisis to work through the bureaucracies until the storm passes. The stakes for the U.S. in how these uprisings are resolved extend beyond the Middle East. They’ve put on the table the core arguments the U.S. will need to mount in its defense against the competitive challenge of China’s market authoritarianism. If U.S. timidity is seen as U.S. acquiescence to a system of “reformed” Middle East autocracies, the debate between the American and Chinese models is over. The world’s people will see, rightly, that the Chinese are winning the argument, and the U.S. will spend the next 50 years watching other nations back away from its system.

“Defining moment” may be an overworked phrase, but this one qualifies. With these protests, the trains of history have left the station. The U.S. needs to issue a more public, unequivocal statement of support for authentic representative government. And find an active policy to go with it.

Only a U.S. president can lead this fight. But he has to (truly) believe in it. There is a school of thought, popular around the Obama foreign-policy team, that the world would be better off without the myth of American exceptionalism and burdens like these that come with it. If this government can’t summon more than rhetoric or a U.N. resolution on behalf of 10 up-and-running democratic movements in the Middle East, that exceptionalism will wither. I’m guessing the world won’t be better for it.

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