Obama: To Intervene or Not to Intervene?
Newsweek Magazine recently ran a cover story in the February 21st edition, which read "Egypt : How Obama Blew it."
The editor takes great pains to prove that Obama's strategy of "wait and watch" has left America neither here nor there in its battle to win the moslem world. America according to him should have extended a hand to the revolution and done more to edge Mubarak out.
Surprisingly the editor ignores a few of the key points of American Foreign policy. To start with I am sure that Noam Chomsky would concur - Americans have always propped up puppet regimes all over the world that serve their vital interests. In the Middle East, the objective was mainly to ensure that the price of oil was stable (or the price that they could buy it from the market was stable).
Indeed the bogey of western-sponsored dictators are any day preferable to hardline fundamentalists, worked for a time and served its purpose. The Obama administration was indeed caught by surprise and on the wrong foot especially when it had to take sides in the Egyptian Revolution. On one hand, if it threw its weight behind the faceless revolution, other pro-US regimes would have wilted causing more instability.
If it had ignored the protests it would have been taken to task for not practicing what it preaches. A few years ago when Iraq was overthrown - America heralded in an age of freedom and democracy for the Arab world. Iraq it seemed was not the actual freedom struggle waiting to happen.
Obama and Secretary of State's carefully calibrated reply reflected the changing contours of Obama's Foreign Policy. Here is a government that will pressurize the United Nations for action, but act unilaterally they will certainly not, unlike the previous administration.
However, the case of the Libyan uprising does make things a lot easier for the US to act. A tyrant with a large sovereign wealth fund who has no qualms about bombing his own people to secure his throne is an ugly picture for all. This should make things easier for the US administration to lobby the United Nations to act. There will certainly be other spoilsports in the game such as China or Russia who would have their own interests to see to.
This is probably the best shot the US may get to stand with the values it preaches, but they should rope in the UN. Acting unilaterally is indeed the way forward no matter how quickly or slow it may take. The world community needs to act, the US can ill afford to be sucked into another war.