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"the adoption of Jimmy Carter's worldview"

Ari Shavit brings us this must read:

For some 60 years the West gave the world imperfect but stable order. It built a kind of post-imperial empire that promised relative quiet and maximum peace. The rise of China, India, Brazil and Russia, like the economic crisis in the United States, has made it clear that the empire is beginning to fade.

And yet, the West has maintained a sort of international hegemony. Just as no replacement has been found for the dollar, none has been found for North Atlantic leadership. But Western countries' poor handling of the Middle East proves they are no longer leaders. Right before our eyes the superpowers are turning into palaver powers.

There are no excuses for the contradictions. How can it be that Bush's America understood the problem of repression in the Arab world, but Obama's America ignored it until last week? How can it be that in May 2009, Hosni Mubarak was an esteemed president whom Barack Obama respected, and in January 2011, Mubarak is a dictator whom even Obama is casting aside? How can it be that in June 2009, Obama didn't support the masses who came out against the zealot Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, while now he stands by the masses who are coming out against the moderate Mubarak?

There is one answer: The West's position is not a moral one that reflects a real commitment to human rights. The West's position reflects the adoption of Jimmy Carter's worldview: kowtowing to benighted, strong tyrants while abandoning moderate, weak ones.

Carter's betrayal of the Shah brought us the ayatollahs, and will soon bring us ayatollahs with nuclear arms. The consequences of the West's betrayal of Mubarak will be no less severe. It's not only a betrayal of a leader who was loyal to the West, served stability and encouraged moderation. It's a betrayal of every ally of the West in the Middle East and the developing world. The message is sharp and clear: The West's word is no word at all; an alliance with the West is not an alliance. The West has lost it. The West has stopped being a leading and stabilizing force around the world.

Some call this hope and change to believe in.


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Comments (22)

Wow!!! another hil... (Below threshold)
gnossoss papadopoulis:

Wow!!! another hilarious fact free post. Dude, do get paid for this?

Bush had principles, Obama ... (Below threshold)
Hank:

Bush had principles, Obama not so much.
Bush understood the ideals of the country he was leading.
Obama rejects those ideals.
Bush had a long term view of history, especially with respect to the Middle East.
Obama has a long term view of Obama and will not hesitate to discard anyone that may adversely affect that.

And Carter's worldview work... (Below threshold)
mathman:

And Carter's worldview worked so well, too.
He gave us the Misery Index, as I recall.
He was so intelligent that he allowed our diplomats in Iran to remain incarcerated for 441 days. What a guy!
Now Zippy is working to get the Muslim Brotherhood in power in Egypt. Good-bye, Israel. All the Jews will be driven into the sea, and the world will have peace under the universal Caliphate.
Buy your prayer rugs and hajibs now, Sharia is coming.

"The West's word is no word... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

"The West's word is no word at all; an alliance with the West is not an alliance."

Worst words any foreign leader can hear from Barry: "Don't worry, I've got your back!"

Just ask the Poles and the Czechs.

"The consequences of the We... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

"The consequences of the West's betrayal of Mubarak will be no less severe. It's not only a betrayal of a leader who was loyal to the West, served stability and encouraged moderation."

Mubarak's 30 year repressive regime did anything but foster stability, let alone moderation. Make no mistake: the current social unrest is largely because of the way in which Mubarak ruled Egypt--as a repressive police state--for decades. He was only "loyal" because we literally paid him to toe the line. He certainly did not give damn about human rights, political freedom, or democracy. He did care about politics and power, obviously. Is that what you call a true loyal ally, Rick? This argument that he "served stability" flies completely in the face of the current reality. Obviously, through authoritarian rule and suppression of human rights, he did NOT serve stability.

"It's a betrayal of every ally of the West in the Middle East and the developing world."

So, when people finally start protesting against the police state that has held sway over them, what do you want the US to do? Step in and help put down that uprising? Back the dictator? Really? If Mubarak wanted to promote long-term stability, he should have started thinking about "reform" about three decades ago.

"The message is sharp and clear: The West's word is no word at all; an alliance with the West is not an alliance. The West has lost it. The West has stopped being a leading and stabilizing force around the world."

Which "word" are you talking about? Our supposed ideals about fomenting democracy and human rights around the world? Or the temporary deals that we cut with tyrants like Mubarak in the name of politics, security, and economics?

I get a different take home message from all of this: our pattern of supporting convenient autocracies needs to stop. Why? Not just because it flies completely in the face of our ideals about human rights and governance, but also because in the long run a repressive regime that suppresses the rights of its own people will only result in social unrest and conflict. It's just a matter of time.

We can't pretend to be the global champion of democracy and freedom while cutting deals with autocracies at the same time. It's completely antithetical. Repression does not breed stability, period. We should have learned this lesson by now. Hell, all we have to do is read through some of the words of the founders of this nation to figure that one out. If 18th century American colonists were not willing to live under the rule of a tyrant, why should we expect others to do so today? Because it's politically convenient for "the west"?

"How can it be that Bush's ... (Below threshold)
DaveD:

"How can it be that Bush's America understood the problem of repression in the Arab world, but Obama's America ignored it until last week?"

Actually he answered his own question using the word ingnored. Obama's foreign policy is more reactive than proactive. I think foreign policy is very much a distraction once you get beyond the ceremonial trappings of meeting foreign leaders. One could follow up further with the above quote:

"Right before our eyes the superpowers are turning into palaver powers."

Because words are all you are gonna get from this administration. Obama much prefers pontificating from afar rather than breaking a sweat and getting too involved. I am sure increased influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egyptian government is OK by Barry anyway. Representative of the Muslim Brotherhood have already had contacts with Napolitano so I am sure in the eyes of this organization they are welcome and integral players in Middle East foreign policy. As far as Mubarak is concerned he probably was lucky being in power this long. Too bad about what the alternative will likely be, however.

Jimmy Carter, was he the gu... (Below threshold)
Olsoljer:

Jimmy Carter, was he the guy that was Clarabelle's and Cowboy Bob's friend? Or the one who sat in Edgar Bergen's lap?

Mubarak's 30 year repres... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

Mubarak's 30 year repressive regime did anything but foster stability

Uh, Ryan, 30 years' existence constitutes stability.

Jay G:"Uh, Ryan, 3... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Jay G:

"Uh, Ryan, 30 years' existence constitutes stability."

Sure, if you define a repressive police state as a "stable" form of government. Maybe we just have different definitions of stability, Jay. If you think the mere ability to stay in relative power for a few decades constitutes stability, well, more power to you. I don't. Why? Because it's really not all that stable if you have to keep silencing and repressing your own people to stay in power. Obviously, it was not the most stable form of governance if Mubarak ruled under a state of emergency for three decades. Repression breeds instability and social unrest. It's just a matter of time.

Are you sure you really want to argue this one?

Ryan, please invest in a di... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

Ryan, please invest in a dictionary. "Stability" means the absence of rapid change, i.e., the property of propagating through time. It says nothing about the nature of what hasn't changed, whether it be good, bad, or indifferent.

North Korea is stable. Cuba is stable. Egypt was stable until recently. The United States is now stable, but is bidding fair not to be.

"Stability" doesn't imply that something lasts forever, just that it has lasted for some considerable period. Which Egypt has.

Ryan, on a personal note, p... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

Ryan, on a personal note, please try to use terms in their plain English meaning, without any coloring or other adumbrations. Doing so facilitates communication.

For example, here you're adding "political desirability" to "stability." Previously, in discussing "hunger," i.e., sufficiency of nourishment, you added "health of diet," i.e., quality of nourishment.

Fuzzy language constributes to fuzzy thinking.

"Stability" means "not changing."

"Hunger" means "not having enough to eat."

To move beyond those terms, adduce further qualifiers to them; please do not expand the terms themselves to encompass other aspects.

Thanks.

Jay G,You call it ... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Jay G,

You call it "stable" because Mubarak stayed in power for thirty years.

I call it "unstable" because he ruled through repression, paranoia, violence, silence of dissent, and under a state of emergency. In my view, his rule was only "stable" in a very superficial sense. It was completely unstable in many respects, even if the same political leader kept plastering his face all over the nation.

""Stability" doesn't imply that something lasts forever, just that it has lasted for some considerable period. Which Egypt has."

Ah, I see. Thanks for clearing that up. It just has to last for "some considerable period." Well, that really nails it down. So, despite all of the internal repression and turmoil, we'll just call it "stable" because Mubarak was there.

I call it "unstable" bec... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

I call it "unstable" because he ruled through repression, paranoia, violence, silence of dissent, and under a state of emergency.

See, this is what I'm talking about. You're adding more to the term than it actually means, coloring it with your own views.

"Stability" doesn't imply anything about how the stability was achieved. Nothing. That is for additional commentary, e.g., "stable but repressive." That would be a fair characterization. "Unstable" would not be a fair characterization.

Was the USSR stable? Yes, in its day. Is North Korea stable? Right now, yes. Is Cuba stable? Right now, yes. Is Egypt stable? Right now, no.

Stability means not in a state of flux. Please don't add any other crap to the term. If you want to make additional commentary regarding the origin of the stability, do so with further characterization. Don't fold that characterization into the definition of "stability." It just pollutes the language, and leads to an "Alice in Wonderland" situation where words mean what you want them to mean at the time. Words should have meaning that transcends the time and place when they're used.

Thanks.

(I'm not disagreeing with your characterization of Mubarak's Egypt - which I've visited several times, and once saw Mubarak himself at close range - but rather with your use of language. Egypt was stable, but repressive. We're agreed on that.)

Here ya go:Merriam... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

Here ya go:

Merriam-Webster

stableadj
sta·bler\-b(ə-)lər\sta·blest\-b(ə-)ləst\
Definition of STABLE
1a : firmly established : fixed, steadfast b : not changing or fluctuating : unvarying c : permanent, enduring

sta·bil·i·ty noun \stə-ˈbi-lə-tē\
plural sta·bil·i·ties
Definition of STABILITY
1: the quality, state, or degree of being stable: as a : the strength to stand or endure : firmness b : the property of a body that causes it when disturbed from a condition of equilibrium or steady motion to develop forces or moments that restore the original condition

That's the sense in which I mean and use the terms. Nothing in there about repression, violence, etc.

So how will it end up in Eg... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

So how will it end up in Egypt?
Wizbang poll!

1 mubarak/son/crony retains repressive control?
2 mubarak/son/crony retains control, enacts reforms?
3 military takes over?
4 elections take place, democratic-ish republic-ish?
5 elections take place, Islamists take over?
6 anarchy, civil war then one of the above happens?
7 other?

I'm leaning toward 4, followed by 5.
2nd guess; 3 followed by 5.
3rd; 6 followed by 5.

Who the hell knows.

Jay G,Ok, so you w... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Jay G,

Ok, so you want to get technical. Fine. Let's go with your dictionary definition of stability:

"1a : firmly established : fixed, steadfast b : not changing or fluctuating : unvarying c : permanent, enduring."

Is a thirty year regime "permanent" or "enduring"? No, it's not. It's temporary. It's a point in time with a beginning (1981) and a rapidly approaching end (2011).

Jay, you're talking about relative stability, at best. Stability implies either permanence or equilibrium. It's right there in the definitions you provided: fixed, unchanging, enduring, permanent. While 30 years is a decent amount of time, it can hardly be equated with "permanence." Sorry, but you're the one who wants to play technical semantic games with dictionary definitions.

My basic argument is that the "stability" of Mubarak's regime was temporary and superficial. While some people, you among them, are arguing that Mubarak provided stability to the region, I am arguing that, in the long-run, he did not. Clearly, as the current situation indicates, he did not. His government was able to keep a lid on things for a certain period of time, but hardly created the conditions necessary for longer-term stability.

My *analysis* of this is that his regime only provided superficial stability because it relied upon repression, silencing of dissent, suppression of rights, etc. Underneath all of the apparent "stability" of the regime were numerous factors that lead to eventual social unrest and upheaval (ie instability). Again: repression breeds instability...it's only a matter of time before the proverbial sh*t hits the fan.

Jeebus ryan, do you know ho... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

Jeebus ryan, do you know how a dictionary works? The first definition is the MOST COMMON definition. Egypt under Mubarak certainly meets the first 2 definitions. The further down the list of common meanings you need to go, the weaker your argument is.
By the standards of non-western governments in the post colonial era, 30 years is pretty stable.
But like most non-western nations (and more than a few western nations) it's not a place I would choose to live, due to the governmental and cultural lack of individual freedoms and rights.

SCSIwuzzy,"Jeebus ... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

SCSIwuzzy,

"Jeebus ryan, do you know how a dictionary works? The first definition is the MOST COMMON definition."

Good grief. Thanks for the brilliant advice, Mr Wuzzy.

"By the standards of non-western governments in the post colonial era, 30 years is pretty stable."

Ah, I see. It's "pretty" stable. Meaning that it was stable, but not completely stable. Hmmm. In other words, it's relatively stable. Thanks for proving the point that I already made. By the way, nice job proving that it was only stable in a relative sense by your use of qualifiers.

Back to the definition (1a just for you):

"1a : firmly established : fixed, steadfast."

Was the Mubarak regime "firmly established," "fixed," and "steadfast"? It WAS, but only for a certain period of time. Clearly, despite the apparent steadfastness, there were some underlying social and political problems that lead to instability. Hence, in the long run, it was not stable. The supposed "stability" and "fixity" of the regime was, in reality, temporary. Go watch the news if you want some empirical evidence to back that up.

Do you want to keep arguing semantics and ignoring my main point, or are you done yet?

Jay jabs with a left and ... (Below threshold)
gaius piconius:

Jay jabs with a left and then another left...Ryan blinks and answers with a flurry of blows, none of which connects solidly. In a clinch the two battling gladiators enter into close range verbal sniping causing the ref to push between them both with a caution..."Gentlemen please, if stability, defined, demands perfection, there is none, (perfection)...for even the most handsome prince at the emporer's ball will have at least one pimple on his arse...but he is still the most handsome prince". A reasonable view; all dictatorships are effective control models and are, therefore, more stable than democracies, but to us, a damn sight less desirable. Note...few here will say that, socially, the western world is stable...it quite patently has entered into one of it's infrequent periods of pronounced instability...(compared to China, N Korea, Iran. et al). But, even though the superior stability of dictatorships most certainly does not recommend itself to us, we cannot just simply assume that those unfortunate populations do not, in part, accept and agree with the conditions of their repression. That would be an error because these cultures think differently and, in fact, the people of Egypt, when polled, indicate no great attachment to the concept of western democracy. It should be no surprise to review all arab societies and clearly see that they are all repressed socially and politically. Tough love, most likely, meets their needs. The US has no genuine influence in the matter.

gaius:funny. i li... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

gaius:

funny. i like the boxing metaphor.

Ryan, you're just digging i... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

Ryan, you're just digging in for the sake of digging in now.
Name 3 countries, outside of the Anglosphere, that meet your definition of stability.
even the US, with the civil rights riots and the like probably won't

Mr Wuzzy,"Ryan, yo... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Mr Wuzzy,

"Ryan, you're just digging in for the sake of digging in now."

Exactly. I am pushing the point a bit, on purpose, to show that debating by resorting to technical dictionary definitions is pretty pointless.

My argument was that Mubarak's regime only provided a certain kind of relative stability (at a higher political level), but that it also bred a lot of internal instability among the populace. Hence, the "stability" is only relative, and depends on what level you look at. Jay G brought in the dictionary definition, which is kind of beside the point.

Your observation that few societies would meet the technical dictionary definition of stability is a case in point. So what matters is how we analyze and define stability, and what factors we are willing to consider. The stability that Mubarak provided only took into account particular geopolitical factors, and ignored many others at lower levels. Hence, arguing that he promoted stability at the regional level misses many other important considerations.




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