If there were an award for stating the obvious when it comes to the Middle East, it would go to The New York Times. On its front page last Friday, the newspaper ran a story headlined, "Muslim Group is Rising Force in New Egypt."
What group would that be? Why, the Muslim Brotherhood, of course. We have been repeatedly assured by certain pundits and members of the Obama administration that the Brotherhood are a small minority with no major influence in Egypt and that those Cairo protesters clamoring for "democracy" that led to the downfall of President Hosni Mubarak would be the ones to chart the country's future. Each time another myth is busted, the deniers of what is happening throughout the region simply create a new myth, one they desperately cling to against all evidence to the contrary.
It would be well for the willfully blind to memorize the motto of the Muslim Brotherhood: "Allah is our objective, the Prophet is our leader; the Quran is our law; dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope." Got that?
The London Daily Telegraph interviewed Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, leader of the rebellion in Libya. He admitted some of the rebels have ties to al-Qaida, but not to worry. Hasidi claimed that even members of al-Qaida "are patriots and good Muslims, not terrorists." Sure they are. We should take them at their word, even though they have been known to lie. At what point do we begin to wake up to this nonsense? Is anyone at the State Department paying attention? How about the White House?
President Obama has been forced by growing criticism to better explain his non-policy in Libya and his reasoning behind bombing the country without deposing Moammar Gadhafi. The president went to the United Nations Security Council for a resolution, not Congress, for constitutional approval to launch air strikes on Libya. Perhaps this is an extension of his stated belief that America is no more exceptional than any other country. "While regime change in Libya is the U.S. policy," reports ABC News, "Gadhafi's removal is not the goal of the operation." No, President Obama tells us the U.S. is in Libya "to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe." Huh?
What about Syria where security forces are shooting civilians in the streets on the apparent orders of President Bashar al-Assad? Under the new "humanitarian" rules of engagement, shouldn't president Obama send bombers to Syria? Will the U.S. seek authorization from the U.N. for military air strikes there? And then there is Bahrain where thousands of protesters spilled into the streets last week after Friday prayers and were confronted by security forces firing tear gas and pellets. Can live ammunition be far behind?
If humanitarianism is the new standard for U.S. military intervention, what about bombing North Korea, liberating Tibet, strafing The Congo, Darfur and scores of other countries where authoritarian regimes deny basic human rights to their people?
In last Saturday's Wall Street Journal, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) wrote that what is taking place in the Middle East "could be the most important geostrategic shift since the fall of the Berlin Wall." That's the wrong analogy. When the Berlin Wall fell, people were liberated. What is happening in the Middle East could be the most important geostrategic shift since communists came to power in Russia and China, oppressing and killing millions.
This is just the beginning. Saudi Arabia is next and already the fault lines in that creaking monarchy are visible. The hand of Iran is behind much of this turmoil and behind Iran is al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden's vision for the toppling of every regime in the region, each to be replaced by the most religiously fundamentalist and politically repressive of leaders.
While President Obama fiddles, the Middle East burns.
At a private dinner last week in Washington, attended by a group of conservative journalists, someone said if a Democrat must be president, he would rather it be Hillary Clinton than Barack Obama. There was general head nodding. Mine was among them.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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