by Ralph Sidway
My late grandmother used a clever turn of phrase to describe shady characters who, while protesting their innocence, somehow seemed linked to the crime in question. Today, my grandmother’s expression — “sinister bystander” — seems the most apt way to describe the global perception of the Obama administration and its failed policy towards Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iran, and the Islamic world in general.
Perceptions are important, in international as well as national politics. All politics ultimately become local, as people make up their minds who they can trust… and who they can’t.
As is clear from the large number of anti-Obama posters and banners in Tahrir Square, Cairo, leading up to the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi by the Egyptian Military, the perception has crystallized in Egypt that our President, Barack Obama, was no friend to the Egyptian people, but rather was an enabler to the terrorist-linked Muslim Brotherhood. “Obama Supports Terrorism!” one huge banner screamed. Others were quite a bit more colorful in their choice of language.
During the “Arab Spring” revolutions of 2011, Obama betrayed longtime U.S. ally Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek, actively encouraging the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Salafists, and other Islamic supremacist forces arrayed against secular and Coptic groups seeking to fashion a true liberal democracy. Indeed, Obama legitimized the Brotherhood from the very beginning of his first term, via his historic (and historically revisionist) Cairo Address in June 2009, when he insisted the Brotherhood be invited to his speech.
This perception is not limited to the Egyptian people. Indeed, in spite of his lofty rhetoric to the contrary, Obama’s policies have galvanized Syrian Christians to ask in Congressional testimony on June 25, “Why is America at war with us?” That is, “why does the United States support extremists who want to turn Syria into an Islamic state?”
Or take Libya, for example. Our involvement there, the president said in April 2011, was essential, due to “our responsibilities to our fellow human beings,” and how not assisting them “would have been a betrayal of who we are.” As we now know, this appeal to human dignity and an altruistic notion of “who we are” was but a sophist’s tool to arm and support Al Qaeda rebels there, who on 9/11/12 attacked our Benghazi consulate and murdered our ambassador and three others, and who have been emboldened to relentlessly persecute Libya’s tiny Christian minority ever since.
For those in America not under the spell of the mainstream media who continue to cover for President Obama, the fall of Morsi shines a harsh light on Obama’s poor choice of alliances in the Muslim world. Senator Ted Cruz, in a new op-ed in Foreign Policy writes:
“In what has to be one of the most stunning diplomatic failures in recent memory, the United States is — in both perception and reality — entrenched as the partner of a repressive, Islamist regime and the enemy of the secular, pro-democracy opposition.”
The disturbing cognitive dissonance between the Obama Administration’s words and deeds was on glaring display in the hours after the Egyptian Military announced that Morsi had been removed from power. In his official statement, Obama said this:
"As I have said since the Egyptian Revolution, the United States supports a set of core principles, including opposition to violence, protection of universal human rights, and reform that meets the legitimate aspirations of the people. The United States does not support particular individuals or political parties, but we are committed to the democratic process and respect for the rule of law.”
Like the Syrian Christians, the Coptic Christian community has justifiable cause to doubt Obama’s claim to “not support particular individuals or political parties” and to distrust his protestations of “opposition to violence, etc.”
Why, just on June 17, shortly before the June 30 protests against the Morsi government were to begin, U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson tried to convince Coptic Pope Tawadros to urge his flock to not participate in the protests. This presumptuous meddling occurred about the same time that Patterson openly sided with the Muslim Brotherhood-led government against the very idea of protests. Needless to say, Ambassador Patterson is prominently featured on plenty of Tahrir Square poster and banners herself, and was recently alleged by an Egyptian politician to be a member of a Muslim Brotherhood sleeper cell.
Ultimately, the Copts did join the protests (in spite of blatant mortal threats against their homes, churches and children by the Muslim Brotherhood) in large measure because the Obama Administration did nothing to protect them, and did nothing to promote true democratic reform.
On Saturday, June 29, at a press conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, Obama nobly announced “the United States will not take sides” in the protests in Egypt. But Obama had already taken a side — five years ago — and worked long and hard to bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power.
Instead of ushering in the mythical neo-Andalusia Islamic paradise he promised in 2009, Obama’s support of the Brotherhood has fostered exactly the same brutal Islamic supremacism for which Islam has been infamous for nearly fourteen hundred years.
By seeking to legitimize the Islamists in order to rehabilitate them into democratic partners for the 21st century, Obama has only unleashed an old evil, and by merely voting “present” on America’s “core principles,” while supporting those who trample on those principles, he has earned for himself the reputation of “sinister bystander.”