Saturday, March 05, 2011

If you had any doubts ...

If you had any doubts that Obama is more of the same old same old, and getting more so every day, read this and weep.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Obama administration is devising a new Middle East strategy in face of ongoing Arab world turmoil, preferring stability over democracy for key allies in the region.
"New" ???
Well da! Isn't "preferring stability over democracy for key allies" exactly what the U.S. has done for the past 60 years?!
According to the Journal:
... the Obama administration is settling on a Middle East strategy: help keep longtime allies who are willing to reform in power, even if that means the full democratic demands of their newly emboldened citizens might have to wait.

Instead of pushing for immediate regime change—as it did to varying degrees in Egypt and now Libya—the U.S. is urging protesters from Bahrain to Morocco to work with existing rulers toward what some officials and diplomats are now calling "regime alteration."

The approach has emerged amid furious lobbying of the administration by Arab governments, who were alarmed that President Barack Obama had abandoned Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and worried that, if the U.S. did the same to the beleaguered king of Bahrain, a chain of revolts could sweep them from power, too, and further upend the region's stability.

Bahrain has a restive Shiite majority that has long felt cut off from the opportunities available to the country's Sunni royal family and social elite.

The country is the headquarters of the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, which patrols the Arabian Sea, Persian Gulf and Red Sea. Some at the Pentagon feared that Shiite-led Iran might try to hijack the protest movement in Bahrain and back installation of an anti-American government.

Though skeptical of Bahraini claims that Iran and its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, were instigating Shiite protests, U.S. and European officials fear the crisis could benefit Tehran. The Mideast turmoil has driven up oil prices, helping Tehran refill its coffers and withstand international sanctions aimed at curbing its nuclear program.

[These concerns] found a particularly receptive ear in the Pentagon ... [and] were shared by Israel.
According to the Journal, this new policy will be applied from "Bahrain to Morocco" - though Lybia is and will continue "to be an exception." (sic: Since Gaddaffi is hardly a loyal ally of the U.S. I don't see how this is an exception)
So though the Bahraini King(! - how's that for democracy) has also called out his military to shoot civilian demonstrators, don't expect the kind of U.S. (or Western) response as we are seeing in Lybia. And - it seems - the autocrats in Yemen also do not have to worry about U.S support for local democracy demonstrators.
The middle east may or may not change for the better as a result of the "Arab Revolt" of these few months, but one thing that is not changing at its core is U.S. foreign policy. We have Obama to thanks for that.
"Change we can believe in", anyone?


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