Right-Wing Media Claim Obama "Lost Egypt," But Can't Agree On Why

››› ››› ADAM SHAH

Right-wing media outlets have begun claiming that President Obama has "lost Egypt" due to his reaction to the unrest in that country. But they do not agree on whether Obama lost Egypt because he is too supportive of Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, is not supportive enough, or is doing something else wrong.

Right-Wing Media Rush To Attack Obama For Supposedly Losing Egypt

Dick Morris: Obama Should Be Standing With Mubarak. From Dick Morris' January 30 syndicated column:

In the 1950s, the accusation "who lost China" resonated throughout American politics and led to the defeat of the Democratic Party in the presidential elections of 1952. Unless President Barack Obama reverses field and strongly opposes letting the Muslim Brotherhood take over Egypt, he will be hit with the modern equivalent of the 1952 question: Who Lost Egypt?

The Iranian government is waiting for Egypt to fall into its lap. The Muslim Brotherhood, dominated by Iranian Islamic fundamentalism, will doubtless emerge as the winner should the government of Egypt fall. The Obama administration, in failing to throw its weight against an Islamic takeover, is guilty of the same mistake that led former President Jimmy Carter to fail to support the shah, opening the door for the Ayatollah Khomeini to take over Iran.

The United States has enormous leverage in Egypt -- far more than it had in Iran. We provide Egypt with upwards of $2 billion a year in foreign aid under the provisos of the Camp David accords orchestrated by Carter. The Egyptian military, in particular, receives $1.3 billion of this money. The United States, as the pay master, needs to send a signal to the military that it will be supportive of its efforts to keep Egypt out of the hands of the Islamic fundamentalists. Instead, Obama has put our military aid to Egypt "under review" to pressure Mubarak to mute his response to the demonstrators and has given top priority to "preventing the loss of human life."

Obama should say that Egypt has always been a friend of the United States. He should point out that it was the first Arab country to make peace with Israel. He should recall that President Anwar Sadat, who signed the peace accords, paid for doing so with his life and that President Hosni Mubarak has carried on in his footsteps. He should condemn the efforts of the Muslim Brotherhood extremists to take over the country and indicate that America stands by her longtime ally. He should address the need for reform and urge Mubarak to enact needed changes. But his emphasis should be on standing with our ally. [Newsmax, 1/30/11]

Fox's Ralph Peters: Obama Risks Being On the Wrong Side Of History By Standing By Mubarak. In contrast with Morris, Fox News contributor Col. Ralph Peters (ret.) attacked Obama for not supporting anti-Mubarak protestors sufficiently. Peters urged Obama to get "on the right side of history":

PETERS: As far as empowering the Islamists, it's not Al Jazeera. They are just rebel rousers and opportunists. By continuing to support dictatorships in the Middle East, for short -- short-term stability, we -- we -- we will -- we kill ourselves long term because to talk -- to talk about yesteryear, the Shah always falls.

The dictator always comes down. And you want to be on the right side of history. Right now we're not.

O'REILLY: Yes but sometimes, Colonel, sometimes there is no right side. And -- and I think back to the El Salvador war that I covered in the early `80s. There were no good guys. Both sides were bad.

In Iran there were no good guys. You had the Ayatollah who has turned that country into -- probably the worst country on earth and you had the Shah, who is a human rights abuser.

So sometimes there isn't anybody to support. And I think that's what all the presidents from Richard Nixon on up have thought about Egypt after Sadat was killed. And Sadat, you know, he was a nut crazy guy, Mubarak took over and every president, liberal Jimmy Carter, liberal Barack Obama, ok, they have to play ball with them because the alternative is Islamists, that's who is in the wings.

PETERS: No, no that's who is in the wings, but whether or not the Islamists get the center stage depends on, partly on our actions. And Obama needs to get out front and center on this. He can't let his henchman Hillary Clinton or Robert Gibbs state it.

The Arab world and the Egyptians are listening. And Obama can't split the difference. This guy always wants to split the difference. There is a right side; that's the winning side.

(CROSS TALK)

O'REILLY: Ok but -

PETERS: And the winning side of history is the people. And we need to get on it. [Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, 1/28/11, accessed via Nexis]

Washington Times Attacks Obama For Not Taking "Action" On Egypt Situation. From a Washington Times editorial:

The Obama team clearly was not ready for the events of the last few weeks and has abrogated any leadership role in resolving the turmoil in Egypt. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton summed up the feckless administration stance when she said Sunday, "We're not advocating a specific outcome." This is a lose-lose position for Mr. Obama. If the opposition takes over, it is no thanks to him, and America will have no legitimacy dealing with the new government. If Mubarak stays in power, his regime might rethink its ties to a faithless ally in Washington. Apparently incapable of shaping events, the White House is making a virtue of necessity. When the time calls for action, Mr. Obama sits on his hands.

Islamic extremists are giddy over the possibility of the region's largest pro-American domino falling. Liberal oppositionists are calling for a united front government with the Muslim Brotherhood, a compromise measure that will surely prove fatal when the current regime collapses and the moderates are left to face off with the extremists. Given the precedent set in Iran - as well as in the Russian and French Revolutions - the liberals will not last long. At that point, Mr. Obama will be even less capable of dictating a "specific outcome," even if he cared to try. The future could witness al Qaeda No. 2 and former Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood stalwart Ayman al Zawahiri making a triumphant return to Cairo.

The administration should immediately draw down the number of personnel in the U.S. embassy in Cairo. A hostage crisis may be the only part of this Carteresque rerun Mr. Obama can avoid. [Washington Times, 1/30/11]

Weekly Standard's Hayes: Obama Could Be "On The Wrong Side Of History" If He Backs Mubarak. On Special Report with Bret Baier, Weekly Standard senior writer Steve Hayes stated:

HAYES: It's a tough line the White House has to walk because the prospect of Muslim Brotherhood in power in Egypt is certainly discouraging. There is a risk the White House could end up being on the wrong side of history here with President Obama's remarks seeming to get the back of Mubarak even with his word about the protesters.

And just yesterday as the region is turning toward a messy democracy, you have the United States ambassador to sierra presenting his credentials to Basher Assad. [Fox News' Special Report, 1/28/11, accessed via Nexis]

Fox Nation: "Obama Will Go Down In History As The President Who Lost Egypt." Fox Nation posted a headline stating "Obama Will Go Down in History as the President Who Lost Egypt":

Fox Nation On Egypt[Fox Nation, 1/31/11]

  • Fox Nation linked to a Haaretz article with the same headline. From the article:

Jimmy Carter will go down in American history as "the president who lost Iran," which during his term went from being a major strategic ally of the United States to being the revolutionary Islamic Republic. Barack Obama will be remembered as the president who "lost" Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt, and during whose tenure America's alliances in the Middle East crumbled.

The superficial circumstances are similar. In both cases, a United States in financial crisis and after failed wars loses global influence under a leftist president whose good intentions are interpreted abroad as expressions of weakness. The results are reflected in the fall of regimes that were dependent on their relationship with Washington for survival, or in a change in their orientation, as with Ankara.

[...]

The street revolts in Tunisia and Egypt showed that the United States can do very little to save its friends from the wrath of their citizens. Now Obama will come under fire for not getting close to the Egyptian opposition leaders soon enough and not demanding that Mubarak release his opponents from jail. He will be accused of not pushing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hard enough to stop the settlements and thus indirectly quell the rising tides of anger in the Muslim world. But that's a case of 20:20 hindsight. There's no guarantee that the Egyptian or Tunisian masses would have been willing to live in a repressive regime even if construction in Ariel was halted or a few opposition figures were released from jail. [Haaretz, 1/30/11]

Fox's Kelly: "There Is Concern" That Obama "Could Go Down In History As The President Who Lost Egypt." Introducing a panel discussion on the situation in Egypt, Fox News host Megyn Kelly stated:

KELLY: Well the chaos in Egypt is creating a diplomatic dilemma for the United States. There is concern today that Mr. Obama could go down in history as the president who lost Egypt, a critical ally of ours in the Middle East, some comparing him to President Jimmy Carter who saw a pro-Western government in Iran fall to radical Islamists on his watch. Joining me now: K.T. McFarland, a Fox News national security analyst; Walid Phares, Middle East expert and author of The Coming Revolution: The Struggle for Freedom in the Middle East; and Bernard Whitman, former Bill Clinton pollster and a Democratic strategist. Panel, thank you so much for being here with me.

BERNARD WHITMAN (Democratic strategist): Thank you.

KELLY: So that -- I want to start with that, Walid, the question of could President Obama go down in history as the man, the president who lost Egypt, and what does that mean? [Fox News' America Live, 1/31/11]

Investor's Business Daily: "Obama Sure Picked A Foolish Place To Give A Community-Organizing Speech." From an Investor's Business Daily editorial headlined "Will Obama Lose Egypt?":

In 2009, the Egyptian daily Almasry Alyoum reported that President Obama secretly met in Washington that year with representatives of Egypt's jihadist Muslim Brotherhood, the Hamas ally that, while banned, dominates the opposition in the country.

Obama also chose Egypt as the locale for his ill-conceived Muslim outreach speech in June 2009.

As Newsweek's Jonathan Alter points out in his White House-friendly book on the president's first year, "The Promise," "Obama never said the words 'terrorism,' 'terrorist,' or 'war on terror'" in the speech, because "the t-word had become inflammatory to Muslims" and the "faster way to the hearts and minds of a Muslim audience was to talk about the tensions between Islam and the West in a different key."

Bet the president didn't think he was planting the seeds of today's protests in Egypt. But what does he expect when he goes to a country in a decades-long police-enforced state of emergency, with tens of thousands of political prisoners, and announces that "you must maintain your power through consent, not coercion"?

[...]

Embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was as afraid of real capitalism as of political dissent. The Heritage Foundation's latest Index of Economic Freedom gives Egypt poor marks despite recent "incremental reforms to liberalize the socialist economy."

Egypt's GDP growth fell markedly in the wake of the global financial crisis, and government corruption and the lack of a dependable rule of law in the economic sphere are factors that have kept poverty and unemployment painfully high -- poisonously mixed with political repression.

Even so, should Mubarak fall, there is real danger of the Islamic Brotherhood imperiling this U.S. ally. Barack Obama sure picked a foolish place to give a community-organizing speech. [Investor's Business Daily, 1/28/11]

Other Conservative Figures Praise Obama's Handling Of Egypt

Politico: Boehner And McConnell "Are Backing Obama's Cautious Approach." From a January 30 Politico article:

After months of pounding President Barack Obama on every front, Republican congressional leaders finally have found a reason to praise him -- his handling of the fast-moving crisis in Egypt.

But while House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are backing Obama's cautious approach, rank-and-file lawmakers are increasingly concerned about the U.S.'s stance.

[...]

"The administration, our administration, so far has handled this tense situation pretty well," Boehner said. "Clearly, reforms need to occur in Egypt."

While Boehner was not asked directly about whether he would support Mubarak's replacement, an aide said he would have repeated the White House line -- now is not the time for American officials to be calling for a new leader. [Politico, 1/30/11]

John Bolton: Obama Administration Officials "Have Stated The Correct Position." John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations during the Bush administration and a possible candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination stated on Fox News that the Obama administration has "stated the correct position" on Egypt. From the January 31 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:

BILL HEMMER (co-host): How did you think the administration handled this over the weekend? Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was on all the talk shows on Sunday. How did she do?

BOLTON: Well, I think they've stated the correct position. It is a real mistake to believe we can toss aside a long-term ally that has brought peace and stability with Israel, a cornerstone of our strategic policy in the Middle East and not pay the consequences for it. By and large, I'd say the less said the better at this point. It's a very uncertain situation. I think the real work is going on behind the scenes. [Fox News' America's Newsroom, 1/31/11]

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