President Barack Obama has defended his actions in the Middle East and North Africa for a while now. He has taken credit for ending the war in Iraq, trying to end the war in Afghanistan and toppling Middle-Eastern dictators, all while keeping America’s interests in mind.
However, the president’s foreign policy team yields inconsistent results, boasting only a .250 record when it comes to inciting revolutions. The Arab Spring seems to have turned into a nightmare.
In 2009, during Iran’s Green Revolution, the president gave the weakest endorsement in recent memory of a popular uprising. He did not call for leaders to step down, nor did he endorse the protesters. While he did barely endorse the idea of political freedom, he could have done more against an oppressive government that is, in fact, our enemy in the region.
When the Egyptian people rose up against former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, our president made sure he strongly condemned our ally’s treatment of his people, and pressured him to resign. Despite the cooperation he gave us when dealing with regional issues (including Israel), Mubarak had to go.
Then, in comes new president Mohammed Morsi, who has behaved in much the same way as Mubarak toward his people, who have revolted against Morsi due to his attempted seizure of power.
The difference between the two is Morsi has shown he is
anti-American. If we are going to support an oppressive dictator, we should support the one who at least likes America and supports our goals.
In Libya, we provided military assistance to the rebels who eventually overthrew their dictator, Muammar Gaddafi. This actually seemed to work out well (hence the .250 average). However, militants have since taken over areas of Libya and killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others in a Benghazi Consulate, which was ill-equipped to deal with evident threats.
al-Qaida is not “on the path to defeat,” as Obama said at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. In January, the group used weapons stolen from Libya during the revolution to take over an Algerian BP oil plant, which took the lives of three U.S. hostages. They’ve also used those weapons to take over most of northern Mali in West Africa.
Finally, the president’s actions related to the other revolutions caused the Syrian people to rise up against their president, Bashar al-Assad. This kicked off a civil war in which the United Nations reports there have been over 60,000 casualties since 2011, but Obama has refused to aid these rebels. This is despite the fact al-Assad has a cache of chemical weapons and has actually attacked the territory of our allies “accidentally” with artillery.
The image we had of the Arab Spring was not all it was cracked up to be. But maybe that is because our president has been hopelessly inconsistent when it comes to our policy in the Middle East. He has made a large number of poor decisions, and seems bent on continuing his streak.