The US Will Not Become Messianic Regime Change Fanatic

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In this segment above, NPR’s White House Correspondent Ari Shapiro spoke with the Carnegie Endowment’s Michelle Dunne and me about the Obama administration’s evolving position on Egypt and the broader Middle East region.
I suggest that the administration is now attempting to maintain a focus on the core principles it pushed during the Egypt protests — while not wanting to appear as if the US has become a Messianic regime change fanatic.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

19 comments on “The US Will Not Become Messianic Regime Change Fanatic

  1. Cee says:

    Matthew,
    Perhaps you aren’t the only one who wonders about US decline.
    In sharp reversal, U.S. agrees to rebuke Israel in Security Council
    Posted By Colum Lynch Wednesday, February 16, 2011 – 6:00 PM
    The U.S. informed Arab governments Tuesday that it will support a U.N. Security Council statement reaffirming that the 15-nation body “does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity,” a move aimed at avoiding the prospect of having to veto a stronger Palestinian resolution calling the settlements illegal.
    But the Palestinians rejected the American offer following a meeting late Wednesday of Arab representatives and said it is planning to press for a vote on its resolution on Friday, according to officials familar with the issue. The decision to reject the American offer raised the prospect that the Obama adminstration will cast its first ever veto in the U.N. Security Council.
    Still, the U.S. offer signaled a renewed willingness to seek a way out of the current impasse, even if it requires breaking with Israel and joining others in the council in sending a strong message to its key ally to stop its construction of new settlements. U.S. officials were not available for comment, but two Security Council diplomats confirmed the proposal.
    http://turtlebay.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/02/16/in_major_reversal_us_to_rebuke_israel_in_security_council

    Reply

  2. Matthew says:

    When I see a video like this, I wonder: Does God Himself want our decline? Shameful. Although that is too polite a word.
    See http://mondoweiss.net/2011/02/israeli-army-targets-and-arrests-children-in-order-to-repress-palestinian-dissent-in-the-west-bank.html

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  3. Martha Nakajima says:

    The administration wasn’t brilliant on Egypt, but one sees it stumbling toward management of US decline. “Always think of it, never speak of it.”

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  4. JohnH says:

    Obama’s pro-democracy PR blitz gets hijacked by reality: Bahrain. Mark Landler, writing in the NYT, points out that “For the second time in two weeks violence has broken out in a restive Arab ally of the United States, confronting the Obama administration with the question of how harshly to condemn a friendly leader who is resisting street protests against his government…criticism would be an even sharper break for the United States than it was in the case of Egypt, since just two months ago Washington was holding up Bahrain as a model of reform for the region.
    What the administration does with Bahrain is likely to be a telling indicator of how it will deal with the balance between protecting its strategic interests, and promoting democracy

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  5. Kathleen says:

    Rachel Maddow was hammering on Iran again last night. She is carrying water for the I lobby. She keeps repeating unsubstantiated claims about Iran

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  6. JohnH says:

    Yes, indeed! Legitimacy matters, even in the Arab world, as Rami Khouri explains:
    http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=5&article_id=124963#axzz1EEDaGMkn

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  7. C ee says:

    JohnH,
    Look at Bahrain.
    He said the police beating him spoke Urdu, the main language of Pakistan. A pillar of the protest demands is to end the Sunni regime’s practice of giving citizenship to other Sunnis from around the region to try to offset the demographic strength of Shiites. Many of the new Bahrainis are given security posts.
    Al-Ikri said he and others on the bus were left on a highway overpass, but the beatings didn’t stop. Eventually, the doctor said he fainted but could hear another police official say in Arabic: “Stop beating him. He’s dead. We should just leave him here.”

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  8. Warren Metzler says:

    Sorry for the repeated posts. I kept thinking I was failing the captcha test, until I noticed the accepted sign.
    Several days ago, I commented on how I was sure Brent Scowcroft was a prostitute; my only evidence being that he had a high post in Washington, and was buddy buddy with Bush senior, a man who has not a smidgen of integrity in his entire body. And now there is this.
    “Meanwhile Scowcroft, who was also the chairman of the American Turkish Council, Baker, Richard Armitage, and Grossman began negotiating separately for a possible Turkish protectorate. Nothing was decided, and then 9/11 took place.
    Scowcroft was all for invading Iraq in 2001 and even wrote a paper for the Pentagon explaining why the Turkish northern front would be essential. I know Scowcroft came off as a hero to some for saying he was against the war, but he was very much for it until his client

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  9. JohnH says:

    Shibley Telhami has a great peace on how American foreign policy makes American supported regimes more susceptible to this wave of democratization than regimes hostile to America. It’s something I’ve wondered about, since the most severe unrest has been concentrated in American allies.
    “The vast majority of the people feel that the primary objectives of American policy in the region are to control oil and protect Israel

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  10. Warren Metzler says:

    When you have a president who has broken the record for most campaign promises not kept, I wonder how people can believe a single word that comes out of his mouth. As the saying goes, “actions speak louder than words”.
    American foreign policy, for what appears to be its entire history, is based on facilitating large American businesses, almost never on having an inter-country relationship be based on the principles in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Repeatedly every president does to residents of foreign countries what he would be jailed for doing to his own citizens.
    I don’t believe a word that Obama says, certainly not about supporting democracy in other countries. When I see the US abandoning its over 700 military bases overseas, then I’ll believe this country’s administrations are serious about justice, democracy, free speech, etc.
    When they, for example, recognize that Hamas is the legitimate elected government of the Palestinians, and act in accord, then I’ll believe. Democracy is about winning fair elections, it is not about pleasing the yearnings of the Foggy Bottom and 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. crowd.

    Reply

  11. Warren Metzler says:

    When you have a president who has broken the record for most campaign promises not kept, I wonder how people can believe a single word that comes out of his mouth. As the saying goes, “actions speak louder than words”.
    American foreign policy, for what appears to be its entire history, is based on facilitating large American businesses, almost never on having an inter-country relationship be based on the principles in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Repeatedly every president does to residents of foreign countries what he would be jailed for doing to his own citizens.
    I don’t believe a word that Obama says, certainly not about supporting democracy in other countries. When I see the US abandoning its over 700 military bases overseas, then I’ll believe this country’s administrations are serious about justice, democracy, free speech, etc.
    When they, for example, recognize that Hamas is the legitimate elected government of the Palestinians, and act in accord, then I’ll believe. Democracy is about winning fair elections, it is not about pleasing the yearnings of the Foggy Bottom and 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. crowd.

    Reply

  12. Warren Metzler says:

    When you have a president who has broken the record for most campaign promises not kept, I wonder how people can believe a single word that comes out of his mouth. As the saying goes, “actions speak louder than words”.
    American foreign policy, for what appears to be its entire history, is based on facilitating large American businesses, almost never on having an inter-country relationship be based on the principles in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Repeatedly every president does to residents of foreign countries what he would be jailed for doing to his own citizens.
    I don’t believe a word that Obama says, certainly not about supporting democracy in other countries. When I see the US abandoning its over 700 military bases overseas, then I’ll believe this country’s administrations are serious about justice, democracy, free speech, etc.
    When they, for example, recognize that Hamas is the legitimate elected government of the Palestinians, and act in accord, then I’ll believe. Democracy is about winning fair elections, it is not about pleasing the yearnings of the Foggy Bottom and 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. crowd.

    Reply

  13. Kathleen says:

    Oh yeah forgot to mention that Micheal

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  14. Kathleen says:

    Anyone ever hear Jon Stewart criticize Israel, Netanyahu, the illegal settlements? Hell No
    On Tuesday evening Daily Shows Jon Stewart added to the bad bad bad Iran pile on He was hammering the Iranian President again. he implied that Iran is enriching uranium beyond the level that they are legally able Stewart is incapable or unwilling to apply these same standards by criticizing Israel

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  15. Kathleen says:

    Breakthroughs? Steve hope you cover these interviews. Would really like to hear your take.
    Rachel Maddow had Dan Rather on the other night in regard to his recent report on support and training for Palestinian soldiers. A real breakthrough for Maddow who never touches this critical issue. But of course it was Rather who has gone where no other MSMer has gone. They actually said WEST BANK But nothing about the illegal settlements.
    Now on Rachel Maddow

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  16. JohnH says:

    Indeed. Messianic regime change is not on the horizon. Rather, Obama’s message is still muddled, talking again democracy, but doing nothing to foster it. Ambivalence towards ME democracy sums it up.
    Bahrain may be the next test case. Big protests. A big US military base. Major oil refining. A Sunni minority ruling over a majority of Shi’a, who would maintain friendly relations with Iran.
    http://www.juancole.com/2011/02/bahrain-us-naval-base-or-iranian-asset.html
    Will Obama ACT to support democracy or block it in Bahrain? The administration’s true intentions may soon be exposed for all to see. And I would be greatly surprised if he ends up supporting democracy, except in his public statements…but that is consistent with Washington behavior going back decades.

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  17. Kathleen says:

    “tread carefully”
    One can only imagine the pressure, the negotiations, the discussion that went on behind the scenes.
    Only hear whispers about the conflict between the State Dept (Clinton) and Obama about how to deal with the protesters. Was it Clinton who insisted sending Wisner?
    One absurd thing going on now is Obama and Clinton’s willingness to hammer on Iran’s shutting down communications access, the “beating” of Iranian protesters while they have continually ignored the Palestinian protesters their treatment, the way the press ignores them in the states, and Israel confiscating all of the communication equipment of the humanitarians on the Gaza Flotilla. As well as our MSM’s willingness to take their cameras from Egypt…pivot, go right over that conflict and hit Iran. How obvious how absurd

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  18. Don Bacon says:

    I trust that Obama’s continued hypocritical lauding of the peacefulness of Egypt’s transformation was not lost on the rest of the world.

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  19. rc says:

    I think you summed it up well — when the social contract fails then it is a new game in town. And by implication it is up to the citizens (or in some cases including the non-citizens) to make or break that contract.
    All the so called leaders can do is anticipate social change and facilitate it or block it. The former tends to support incremental change while the latter revolutionary change.

    Reply

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