Posts Tagged ‘arab

24
Aug
11

‘this may be a truly great foreign-policy president in the making’

Michael Tomasky (Daily Beast): Yes, the economic recovery is too slow. But events in Libya suggest that this may be a truly great foreign-policy president in the making.

…. Yes, of course, let’s stipulate: the war isn’t actually, you know, over. And even after it is, Libya could descend into chaos or extremism or both (although it is heartening to read that the National Transitional Council, the recognized new governing body, apparently has detailed governance plans in place). So could Egypt, and Tunisia, and so on and so on. Lots of things could, can, and undoubtedly will go wrong….

All that said, the administration has already handled a lot of these changes well (and in the face of absolutely constant know-it-all criticism)…..

Obama took a lot of stick for not being more forceful on Egypt in February, but he was right to be cautious …  He then took heat for moving too slowly on Libya, but here again he was correct…..

….. That’s starting to sound like a doctrine to me. Call it the doctrine of no doctrine: using our power and influence but doing so prudently and multilaterally, with the crucial recognition that Egypt is different from Libya is different from Syria is different from someplace else. According to the foreign-policy establishment, if you want to have a self-respecting big-D doctrine, you’re not supposed to recognize differences…..

…. there’s work to be done. But it’s hardly impossible to envision an Obama administration in a few years’ time that has drawn down Afghanistan and Iraq, helped foster reforms and maybe even the growth of a couple of democracies around the Middle East, and restored the standing of a country that Bush had laid such staggering waste. And killed Osama bin Laden. If this is weak America-hating, count me in.

Full post here

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Tomasky has been hugely critical of the President recently on domestic issues, without ever really acknowledging the opposition he faces when he tries to get anything done. He’s critical of him again in this article (click the link to read it all), but at least he gives credit where it’s due on the foreign policy front.

29
Mar
11

‘…..an increasingly surprising arab world’

Kate Seelye (Daily Beast): …It’s one of those twists of irony that the U.S.-backed no-fly zone over Libya has more support in the Arab world than in the U.S. Congress. I’m not sure if Obama’s eloquent defense of the American military mission in Libya during his address to the nation Monday night convinced a skeptical Congress of its value, but his speech certainly articulated an American role that many Arabs embrace.

Obama made a strong moral argument on behalf of saving Libyan lives in defense of democracy, and committed to doing so without putting boots on the ground. That’s proving to be a popular position in the Arab world.

…while some Arabs griped about the motives behind the U.S. intervention, far more applauded our support. A Syrian dissident told me the no-fly zone had inspired Syrians to shed their fear and rise up against their own oppressive regime. A Saudi friend told me it was one of the rare occasions he’d seen a U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East align with America’s backing for human rights and democracy.

…Today, as critics ask valid questions about the cost and length and rationale of the U.S. military role in Libya, they should ponder what it’s worth to earn Arab respect and appreciation. At a time when America’s alliances and interests in the region have been upended by multiple pro-democracy revolutions, perhaps it’s worth the cost of a limited war over Libya to win a little love in an increasingly surprising Arab world.

More here

Kate Seelye is vice president of the Middle East Institute. She was a journalist for NPR and PBS based in Beirut from 2000 to 2009.

21
Mar
11

‘the un-bush’

David Ignatius (Washington Post): Many Americans – and Arabs, too, for that matter – have a visceral sense that if there’s a war in the Middle East, the United States must be in the vanguard. I’m glad that’s not the case this weekend with the Libyan intervention. Americans should be happy to let France and Britain, who live in the neighborhood, take the lead.

President Obama is turning a page, by letting other nations take the first whacks at Moammar Gaddafi, no question about that. But that strikes me as good strategy, not a feckless blunder.

What’s increasingly clear watching the play of events over the past week is that Obama really does want to change the narrative about America and the Arab world – even at the cost of being criticized as vacillating and weak-willed. He senses (rightly, in my view) that over the past several decades America, without really intending to, became a post-colonial power in the Middle East. The narrative of American military intervention stretches from Lebanon to Iraq to Afghanistan, with the ghastly interlude of Sept. 11, 2001. Obama seems determined to break with it. He really is the un-Bush.

The administration has gotten criticized for changing course on Libya over the past week – resisting intervention and then supporting it. But the essential point, it seems to me, is that Obama was prepared to intervene only when it was clear there was an international consensus – with the Arab League and then the United Nations voting for action. That strikes me as the proper ordering of things, especially at a time when America still has big armies in two other Muslim countries…

…This Libya war may be messy and confusing, and it certainly won’t be what Pentagon planners would do if they could dictate matters. But that’s the point: America won’t be the writing this script on its own. And that’s a good thing.

Full article here

19
Mar
11

‘wise’

President Obama arrives to make a statement authorizing limited military action against Libya, March 19

UK Independent: The Paris summit yesterday of the 10-nation coalition of the willing, including the Arab League, backed by a United Nations resolution authorising the use of force to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, marks a triumph of diplomacy.

Inevitably, it is marred by the besetting fault of such negotiations: it has taken too long for the world community to come to this point …. but that is the price of unity. Far better to have the Arab League call for a no-fly zone and the UN respond than to have the rich Western nations of Nato decide what is good for north Africa.

…Barack Obama made it clear last week that US troops would not be deployed in Libya and the UN resolution specifically excludes “a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory”. President Obama, incidentally, has been criticised in recent weeks for his apparent uncertainty and lack of assertion. We do not join in that criticism. It is wise that the United States should allow European and Arab states to take the lead in the Mediterranean theatre, while supporting the rule of law under the aegis of the UN.

…The no-fly zone may seem inadequate to the task of protecting the Libyan people, but, however difficult it may be to accept, it may be that the best we can hope for is that the international community blunts the worst excesses of Gaddafi’s brutality.

Full article here




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