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February 14, 2011

Thank God Obama Gave That Cairo Speech, Eh?

The media wants to give Obama credit for taking The Dangerous Tyrant Mubarak out.

First of all, let us note the obvious: Few in America were really clamoring for Mubarak to be deposed. If this were Iran, I'd say "Well done, Mr. President."

But Egypt is not an enemy -- quite the opposite -- and during Iran's own uprising Obama chose to actually support the regime.

Egypt? On my top five of regimes I want the US to undermine, Egypt places... not on the list. I suppose in an expanded list it would come somewhere between The Netherlands and one of those made-up countries in tv shows, like East Pretendistan.

But even assuming we wished for this to happen (and, um, we didn't), did Obama have a damn thing to do with it?

We know that Bush actually put money into liberalizing Egypt, and Obama not only slashed that funding, but he put a stricture on the funding that it could only flow to groups specifically approved of by the Eygptian government.

It seems when it comes to even soft power, Obama's against it -- he's not only willing to do business with dictators, he's positively giddy at the prospect.

And Verum Serum has dug up this clip of Obama, praising Mubarak as a "stalwart ally" and "force for good in the region" and refusing the interviewer's terming of Mubarak as an "autocrat."

As Verum Serum says: "Not exactly a 'tear down this wall' moment."

The MFM wants to credit Obama with this because they need to credit him with something; for such a transformative figure in politics, Obama has almost no actual objective successes. (Subjective successes in the form of liberal political deliverables, yes, but those are easy; what about unambiguously good deliverables?) So they're desperate to throw a few scraps of fabric on The Naked Emperor.

But beyond that, they want to tout soft power (persuasion, money, diplomacy) over hard power (war and threats of such). They want to hold up Egypt as a place where soft power triumphed, so take that, neocon war mongers!

Let me circle back to the earlier part about no one particularly wanting Egypt's regime to fall. It's not a success to have something happen that no one attempted to make happen. This is like taking a randomly fired shot with a gun, accidentally hitting your neighbor's car window, and then telling your neighbor You're welcome. Well, he didn't ask you to do that and you didn't even aim at that; on what basis are you taking credit?

But more fundamentally, conservatives have never argued that soft power isn't useful. 95% of all international kefuffles are handled with soft power: we jawbone the Chinese about devaluating their currency; we do not go to war with them. We agitate for Norway and Japan to stop killing so many whales; we do not bomb them. We press Mexico to clamp down on border crossings -- oh wait, we don't do that, but we theoretically could.

In short, we do not go to war over every dispute. In fact we go to war over very few of them.

Conservatives have never taken the position that soft power should be abandoned or is useless, and that warfare is the only tool in our foreign policy box.

No, we never claimed that, so Egypt can't serve as a refutation to a thesis never offered.

On the other hand, the liberals have offered an extremely radical idea -- the idea that only soft power should be used in any foreign dispute, no matter how serious, and that soft power works to fix everything.

That is the radical idea, the idea that hard power has no usefulness nor any justification in the modern world.

So yes, soft power is fine for Egypt, a country which wasn't threatening us (and indeed was doing us a rather good turn as far as clamping down on terrorism). And soft power is fine for Japan, and for China, and for Canada and most other countries.

And no conservatives ever said otherwise.

On the other hand, liberal foreign policy experts have claimed, essentially, that war is illegal and always the worst possible policy choice.

The case of Egypt does not speak to their premise at all. But they're hoping the uniformed out there come away thinking it's been proven -- all because Obama attempted to prop up yet another Muslim dictator and failed at it yet again.

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posted by Ace at 04:07 PM

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