The New York Times clarifies what the Obama administration is really thinking about the Arab world. “Pragmatism” is the key word. In other words, backing autocrats who do the dirty work of Israel and America.
Anybody still in love with the supposedly grand visions of Barack Obama?
In the Middle East crisis, as on other issues, there are two Barack Obamas: the transformative historical figure and the pragmatic American president. Three months after a Tunisian fruit vendor set himself aflame and ignited a political firestorm across the Arab world, the president is trumping the trailblazer.
With the spread of antigovernment protests from North Africa to the strategic, oil-rich Persian Gulf, President Obama has adopted a policy of restraint. He has concluded that his administration must shape its response country by country, aides say, recognizing a stark reality that American national security interests weigh as heavily as idealistic impulses. That explains why Mr. Obama has dialed down the vocal support he gave demonstrators in Cairo to a more modulated call for peaceful protest and respect for universal rights elsewhere.
This emphasis on pragmatism over idealism has left Mr. Obama vulnerable to criticism that he is losing the battle for the hearts and minds of the Arab street protesters. Some say he is failing to bind the United States to the historic change under way in the Middle East the way that Ronald Reagan forever cemented himself in history books to the end of the cold war with his famous call to tear down the Berlin Wall.
“It’s tempting, and it would be easy, to go out day after day with cathartic statements that make us feel good,” said Benjamin J. Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser, who wrote Mr. Obama’s soaring speech in Cairo to the Islamic world in 2009. “But ultimately, what’s most important is achieving outcomes that are consistent with our values, because if we don’t, those statements will be long forgotten.”
Those “values” have always meant selling weapons to nations like Saudi Arabia and backing Israeli apartheid in the West Bank.