Over 2 years After President Obama’s Cairo Speech…

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A souvenir shop's owner displays a recently made metal plaque reading 'Obama, New Tutankhamun of the World' in Cairo, June 1, 2009. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh


“My dear sir, President Obama… We all hated America before you came, but now… an olive branch and a… ‘Hamama’ [dove]!”Abbas Chechan, Iraqi poet

And now:

“When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse.”Arab proverb

Wasn’t our standing in the world supposed to improve in the Age of Obama? Weren’t we “hated” due to 8 years of oppressing Muslims under the evil, warmongering Bush Regime?

A recent Zogby analysis- Arab Attitudes, 2011– finds that President Obama’s charm offensive Apology Tour, his bowing and bombing campaigns, his “support” for Libyan rebels and non-support for Iranian democracy, distancing and abandonment of traditional allies (Israel & Mubarak), his broken promise to close Gitmo, his perpetuation of Bush-era wars (and in some ways, expansion) in spite of the name-changes and the makeovers, have all resulted in a worsening of America’s standing in the Arab world:

Executive Summary
• After improving with the election of Barack Obama in 2008, U.S. favorable ratings across the Arab world have plummeted. In most countries they are lower than at the end of the Bush Administration, and lower than Iran’s favorable ratings (except in Saudi

• The continuing occupation of Palestinian lands and U.S. interference in the Arab world are held to be the greatest obstacles to peace and stability in the Middle East.

• While many Arabs were hopeful that the election of Barack Obama would improve U.S.-Arab relations, that hope has evaporated. Today, President Obama’s favorable ratings across the Arab World are 10% or less.

• Obama’s performance ratings are lowest on the two issues to which he has devoted the most energy: Palestine and engagement with the Muslim world.

• The U.S. role in establishing a no-fly zone over Libya receives a positive rating only in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, but, as an issue, it is the lowest priority.

• The killing of bin Laden only worsened attitudes toward the U.S.

• A plurality says it is too early to tell whether the Arab Spring will have a positive impact on the region. In Egypt, the mood is mixed. Only in the Gulf States are optimism and satisfaction levels high.

Expectations ran high in the Arab world that President Obama might bring about change they could believe in. But like many Americans, they’ve grown disillusioned with this President, bringing approval ratings lower in 2011 than in 2008 (the last year of President Bush’s 2nd term). Anti-Americanism in the Muslim world has not been quelled by this president:

C. Substantial majorities of Arabs in almost every country view both the U.S. and Iran as not “contributing to peace and stability in the Arab World.” The U.S.’ contribution to the region is viewed less positively than Iran in every country except Saudi Arabia.

Lebanon is the only Arab country that sees Iran contributing to peace and stability in the region.

The roles of Turkey and Saudi Arabia are appreciated by strong majorities in every country.

D. Overall, Arabs view the two greatest threats to the region’s peace and stability to be “the continuing occupation of Palestinian lands” and “U.S. interference in the Arab world.” Only in Saudi Arabia does the concern with “Iran’s interference in Arab affairs” rank as a top concern.

President Obama’s foreign policy ranks below that of Erdogen, Sarkozy, Ahmadinejad, and Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz.

Turkish demonstrators step on a poster of President Barack Obama during a protest in Istanbul April 7, 2009. REUTERS/Gurcan Ozturk

It is noteworthy that the two issues on which the Administration has invested considerable energy—”the Palestinian issue” and “engagement with the Muslim world”—receive the lowest approval ratings – less than 9% across the board.

Apparently the Israel-Palestinian issue remains a hot-button topic in the Middle East and how it affects U.S. relations with the Muslim world there.

Neither did the killing of Osama bin Laden do anything to improve our favorable ratings in the countries surveyed (which apparently did not include Pakistan….but we already know how most Pakistanis feel about having their sovereignty violated).

A plurality in Egypt say they are worse off now than they were before the Arab Spring but remain optimistic for the future.

102 Responses to “Over 2 years After President Obama’s Cairo Speech…”

  1. 101

    James Raider

    @Larry: # 48,

    . . . . . Exactly in line with what I’m saying. Thank you.

    The four articles you use to counter my point in #47, are obviously the strongest counter you are capable of raising up the pole.

    Those are perfect examples of a pathetic, ineffective, limp spined, confused, and unengaged leadership – about all we can expect – but it evidently suffices to placate an undiscerning but dwindling crowd that currently makes up 39% of the voters.

  2. 102



    Larry w: In Egypt, there was nothing which could have been done by the USA to change the outcome. The only thing over which we had any control was our world image. Obama gave Mubarek all the time he (Obama) could have to change the course of events; when the outcome was inevitable, Obama skillfully made sure that the USA was on the correct side of history.

    Pardon me, but what a load of manure you dumped, Larry.

    If “the only thing over which we had any control was our world image”, then I daresay a meddling, pushy flibberdegibbet leader of the free world, throwing over yet another ally, was not “the world image” we needed to portray. Again, I will remind you…. all the Arab nations of the world have made note that to be friends with Obama’s US is to mean they invade your sovereign territory (Pakistan), he will throw you over the side to the sharks (Egypt, Yemen, Israel, and attempted in Bahran). But if you remain our enemy he will leave you alone (Syria, Iran, Somalia etal)

    Yeah… really good for the world image, of which we’re now lower than in the Bush years because they didn’t like us in Iraq. “Masterful” indeed… snark.

    In Libya, we had allies begging us to help them and we had an impending humanitarian catastrophe.

    What “impending humanitarian catastrophe”. You mean Gaddafi sent the military to Benghazi? Tell me, Larry… has Gaddafi’s forces killed more civilians? Or the NATO bozos and the rebels. Think carefully before you respond. Had Gaddafi done anything in mass murdering the rebels prior that warranted such a definitive conclusion? Why do you live in some parallel universe where you think you can tell the future, therefore pre’emptive strikes for humanitarian reason are okay as long as you say so, but going after a guy who worked with UBL for murdering Americans in Somalia in 1993 isn’t?

    The USA never *has* to do anything they do not wish to do. That’s the difference between your “version” of a “conservative” Obama and patsy leader, and our nation, vs mine. No leader of the free world has to bow to world… or lib/prog… opinions.

    Your praise and naive adulation are nothing short of nauseating.

    And the “NATO achieving it’s objective” is vastly premature. As johngalt has repeatedly pointed out to you, and you are not content to wait before you kiss Obama’s feet, Gaddafi is not gone, his son is free, there is no “celebrating in the streets of Tripoli” by the population, and the rebels have been equally brutal (not to mention religiously unPC) to their fellow Muslims. Like Egypt, Obama will, again, have contributed to creating another Muslim unfriendly nation in place of what was formerly a cooperative ally if things continue rolling as they are.

  3. 103




    Larry, perhaps you have again been too busy to pay attention to real events instead of soundbyte education… as I pointed out to you with Obama’s overt lip service support for the rebels in the various ME uprisings. So let me give you a clue….

    Saddam is gone and al-Maliki does not speak for the Iraqi nation any more than Harry Reid, Boehner or Obama can speak blanketly for US policy. They have a parliament now, duly elected, with varying religious representation and interest. al-Maliki is no king, and he has always been eyed warily, even by the prior administration. Tell us something new, would you?

    I have no doubt that Iraq must strike a workable chord with Syria, as well as Iran. That seems to upset you all in the lib/prog world … despite that fact it was your political party that advocated leaving them all to their despotic fates. But you have looked at a map recently, yes? You know… Syria to the left of me, Ahmadinejad to the right… here Iraq is, stuck in the middle with the US.

    I don’t feel the least bit slighted by Iraq walking their narrow line between their radical neighbors, as well as having a relationship with the west. It is the age old story of all our allies there, save Israel. Thus the reason I constantly say you will never have a fully devoted ally in the ME because of their conflicted views of the west. The best we can hope for is what Mubarak and Musharraf delivered. Tacit approval in return for taking the public assault with later “tut tut’s”.

    However Obama is busy helping them exit, lavishing US support on the rebels ( of which most are probably laughing their tuckus’ off…. having the west fight their radical Islam battles ) and ushering in heaven knows what.

    But so far, it ain’t looking pretty anywhere…. except Iraq where the US kept a firm presence during the rebuilding of a government.

  4. 104


    The photo of the Egyptian metal plaque calling Obie the new King Tut speaks volumes about their opinion of him. For one thing, King Tut was an inexperienced “boy king.” Secondly, he advocated policies, learned from his mentor, Akhenaten, which were quite unpopular with the religious authorities. Finally, he had a very short reign and was completely forgotten for centuries. We would never have known his name except for the discovery of his tomb full of treasures.

  5. 105

    Hard Right

    @rich wheeler:
    Ummmm no. The Jewish left is NOT Israel’s greatest ally. In fact, they have repeatedly failed to defend Israel from the relentless PR attacks from anti-semitic Arab states. On top of that, they continue to push Israel to accept the insane demands of the Palestinians. Even worse, they helped elect a man who doesn’t seem to care much for Israeli Jews.
    Seriously Rich, it would be nice if you lefties would analyze your beliefs in an open and honest manner….just once.

  6. 106

    rich wheeler

    Hard Right re#55 Disagree As a born and raised New Yorker I can assure you the American Jew stands solidly with Israel and admittedly would like to see Obama toughen his stance.
    Will the Jewish vote ,solidly Dem, vote for an evangelical Perry or Bachmann.Not likely.
    H.R. I’m all for openess and honesty.Did you serve?

    Semper Fi

  7. 107

    Hard Right

    @rich wheeler:

    Pfffft. The facts show otherwise on liberal Jews and Israel, Rich. They also show how obama isn’t a friend of Israel. Or do you think having someone like Samantha Power on his team is proof to the contrary?
    What exactly does my service or lack thereof have to do with anything? I’ve stated several times before I could not serve due to medical reasons.

  8. 109

    Nan G

    I’m watching Al Jazeera live as a rebel parades in front of the camera with a gold-plated AK-47.
    They have stormed the Gaddafi compound but, apparently none of the Gaddafi family was still there.
    One wonders where this guy (Muammar Gaddafi) is?
    Had he already been spirited out of country?
    Is he in (or on his way to) Venezuela?
    There is a rumor that a tunnel connects the compound with that hotel where the media are surrounded by Gaddafi-loyal forces.
    Would they surround it if they only wanted to hold foreign media hostage?
    Or, more likely, that Gaddafi is holed up somewhere in that hotel?

  9. 111

    Nan G

    Conservative blogger, Howard Portnoy, notes that, in the past, Obama has projected savings of $1 trillion related to the troop drawdown in Iraq and Afghanistan, although the drawdown was already scheduled to take place and the fighting was never expected to continue into the next decade.

    So, he asks; Will Obama Announce Savings on “Future Fighting?”

    Obama could use the same fuzzy math to claim equally large savings in the Libya campaign.
    $12 billion have already been spent on bombing Libya.
    I wonder how much we “saved?”

  10. 112

    rich wheeler

    Nan 12 Billion spent deposing crazed dictator with American civilians and soldiers blood on his hands.

    American casualties Zero— PRICELESS

    Semper Fi

  11. 113

    Hard Right

    @rich wheeler:

    BZZZT! Wrong. If that was the case they wouldn’t have helped elect obama and would do more to stand up for Israel. Like I said, they criticize Israel for protecting itself and pressure them to cave to the palestinians. That isn’t support.
    Do you think obama supports Israel?

  12. 114


    Obama administration works to be sure Libya doesn’t turn into Iraq

    “The Obama administration scrambled Monday to ensure that the U.S.-backed rebels who appear on the brink of victory in Libya don’t follow the grim path Iraq took eight years ago when jubilant celebrations in Baghdad gave way to wholesale chaos and bloody civil war.

    “With rebels still battling troops loyal to Moammar Kadafi in the heart of Tripoli, the capital, U.S. officials and allied governments pushed rebel leaders to prevent the type of widespread looting and revenge killings that swept Baghdad shortly after the U.S.-led invasion overthrew dictator Saddam Hussein in April 2003.”

    “…The White House reaffirmed that it would not send troops to Libya, even in a peacekeeping role, and NATO officials gave no sign that they were prepared to field a peacekeeping force to help the rebels secure a nonviolent transition to a new national government, as many experts argue will be needed once Kadafi is ousted.”

  13. 115

    rich wheeler

    HR I don’t know where you reside but I”m assuming it’s not an area where most of your friends and neighbors are Jewish. They vote Dem. based on social issues. They DO NOT criticize Israel for protecting themselves.Ridiculous statement H.R.
    Obama supports Israel and like the Bushs and Clinton and Reagan and Carter seeks peace in that region.

  14. 116



    One has to wonder, though, what, exactly, will be the result, and who will be drawn into that vacuum created by the loss of power by Ghaddafi. My guess is that militant Islamists will attempt to fill that vacuum. And, who will stop them?

  15. 117


    Obama’s political opponents are trying to convince voters that Obama is anti-Israel. This plays into the general narrative that Obama is a closet Muslim, or whatever. It’s very possible to be pro-Israel and yet to be opposed to certain Israeli policies, such as expansion of settlements, which, by the way, large numbers of Jews living in Israel also oppose, e.g.

  16. 118


    Israel’s National Insurance Institute homepage.

    “The National Insurance Institute collects insurance contributions from all residents in accordance with their income and insurance status, and pays benefits to those entitled. In this way, income is transferred from groups which are well off economically to weak and vulnerable groups, and the National Insurance Institute thereby contributes to a more just distribution of the national income and to a reduction of poverty.”

    Why, *sputter* they’re a bunch of SOCIALISTS!

  17. 119

    Hard Right

    Alan Dershowitz disagrees with you Rich.
    “The reality, however, is very different. The Jewish state is demonized by the hard left in America, by virtually the entire left in much of Europe, and by most of the left and right in Ireland, Norway and Sweden. Its right to exist is denied by a high proportion of Arabs and Muslims, and most of the Arab and Muslim nations do not have diplomatic relations with Israel.”

    More proof.

    Still More



    A poll of Amrican Jews. It’s from 2005, but I doubt much has changed

  18. 120


    @johngalt, #66:

    Reports I’ve heard recently on the news suggest that there’s really not much of an Islamic extremist element in Libya–mainly because Gaddafi ruthlessly eliminated them. The thinking seems to be that problems are more likely to arise out of opposing tribal interests.

  19. 121


    According to Dershowitz:

    Defenders of Israel, even those critical of some of Israel’s policies, are banned from speaking at universities, are attacked personally by the hard left media and are treated as pariahs by their academic colleagues.


    At the “liberal” University of Caifornia Irvine, 11 Muslim students were arrested for taunting during a speech on campus given by the Israeli ambassador. The Muslim Student Association subsequently lost its campus accreditation. The were supposed to go on trial this week.


    – LW/HB

  20. 122



    And I understand that, Greg, however, being in close proximity to the middle east would necessarily create an opportunity for them. As well, assuming that the one roadblock to their gaining traction in Libya is removed, it is logical to assume that groups within the militant islamic community would be looking that way, as has been suggested plenty with AQ possibly involved with the rebels. To not question this, and to discount it offhand, is not something one should do. Just a thought.

  21. 123

    another vet

    @Greg: In addition to the tribal issues, there are three major rebel groups that will be vying for power. If Q’s forces weren’t totally defeated and have merely slipped away to wage an insurgency, that will present another problem. He may have learned something from what happened in Iraq. Here’s a good analysis that addresses the point you brought up. Time will tell how this unfolds.


  22. 125


    @johngalt, #72:

    I agree that those elements will undoubtedly see any instability in the area as an opportunity.

    @another vet, #73:

    Interesting article. It’s hard to know to what extent a common enemy has been the main thing keeping the factions from going at each other. Wanting control of the oil might have exactly the opposite effect.

  23. 126

    Nan G

    @rich wheeler:
    Rich, that wasn’t my point.
    And, as in every expenditure or stat this gov’t puts out, it is all liable to be ”adjusted.”
    (Usually upwards.)
    My point was Obama using the end (supposed end, as it is looking more violent today) of action (kinetic action) as a way to pretend he ”saved” our budget a bunch of money.
    As he did with both Afghanistan and Iraq.
    Playing games with numbers is not really saving taxpayers a dime.
    but it is Obama’s way.

  24. 127


    H.R. Your refs, afirm to me what I am told by my Jewish friends and business associates They support the Israeli Govt’s efforts to bring a lasting peace to the M.E. They recognize the legitimate existance of a Pelestinian state, They will defend Israels right to exist,some with their own blood if called apon.
    They are immeasurably proud of Israel.It’ll be a cold day in hell before they vote for anyone associated with the Tea Party,


  25. 128

    Nan G

    @Hard Right:
    That IS good news.
    And the MSA at Berkeley are also in court this month because of their harassment of the Jews who go to school there.
    The lawsuit claims Berkeley has tolerated years of programming by the anti-Israel student group the Muslim Students Association (MSA) despite reports of Jewish students being cursed at, threatened and assaulted.

    In 1995, the MSA at UC Berkeley conducted a rally in support of Hamas.
    In April 2002 the MSA publication at UC Berkeley, Al-Kalima, voiced its support of Hamas and Hizballah.
    MSA was established by the Muslim Brotherhood in 1963 to serve as a platform to spread Islam and Islamic ideas to college campuses in the U.S.

    By continuing to authorize and fund MSA as an official student organization, the lawsuit alleges, the university allowed itself to become a dangerous and threatening environment for Jewish students.

    MSA sponsored “Apartheid Week” events, specifically the mock checkpoints that they stage on campus, create an actionable hostile environment harassment.

    Students at the checkpoints carry “realistic looking assault weapons—’imitation firearms’—as part of the event,” Siegal wrote, citing a California statute prohibiting such reenactments unless they are authorized by the school.

    Brian Maissy, a current student, similarly described the fear created by the annual “Apartheid Week” events.
    Maissy, who wears a yarmulke, said the students with the fake assault rifles yelled, “Are you Jewish?” at him and other passersby.
    The event occurs at the entrance to campus and is difficult to avoid, Maissy said.

    University officials did not act to protect the students, he said, and he fears for his safety on campus.

    The officials denied that there was an anti-Semitic crisis on campus and “actively and intentionally” allowed it to continue, lawyers for the students say.

    The lawsuit seeks damages, a five-year ban on MSA on campus, and a loss of university funding for the group.
    The plaintiffs also argue that UC Berkeley must create an independent fact-finding body to handle student complaints of hostile environment situations on campus.

    The case is scheduled for trial September 22.

  26. 132



    Greg, I would be highly curious to see exactly how Obie Zero Kenobi thinks he can effect Libya, preventing it from turning into the clash of powers post Gaddafi. It was only US and coalition troops on the ground that helped turn that tide in Iraq. Since Obama says no boots, just what does he think he can do in a realistic sense? More lip service?

    Gee… that’s working out so well in Egypt, eh?

    BTW, I thought you all declared victory yesterday, and poo pooh’ed my skepticism? Hummm… today, still no celebratory throngs of the “liberated” happy denizens hitting the streets in joy. Just more dozens of guys in tees, with guns, posing for cameras with fingers up. Wow… the “future” of Libya is there for all to behold.

    Oh yes, the two Gaddafi sons they were supposed to have arrested? One escaped, aided by Gaddafi forces. Apparently the other one never was arrested, since he sauntered into the journalist Tripoli hotel today, pointing out that all everyone had read seemed to lack considerable truth.

    According to the NYTs article I linked in the paragraph above, the rebels stormed an empty compound, and stole… get this… Gaddafi family medical files?? Is this to be their basis for Gaddafi’s trial? Not memos to military and historical plots, but medical files? This is their first regime documents priority?

  27. 133



    @Greg: Israel’s National Insurance Institute homepage.


    Why, *sputter* they’re a bunch of SOCIALISTS!

    Greg, I have no intention of encouraging, nor contributing to your bait/switch debate. Tho I can certainly understand just why you’d be desiring to do just that.

    But I will give you some homework so that you may prevent yourself from sticking your cyber foot in your keyboard mouth in the future. Read the history of the Israel health care system. Allow me to give you a few hints to look for….

    1: Why would a country who had 96% of insured citizens in 1995, and 90% insured since the 80s, feel the need to mandate a national health care system 1995? Was it possible that the miniscule 4% uninsured actually was draining their funds? Answer… no. It was playing catch up for government owned/controlled medical services since 1948. Their budgetary needs were actually because of the government in control of the health care.

    2: Since the 1973 mandate that employers pay health insurance taxes for their employees, and those funds constitute 30% of the health care budget, why were they still in a budgetary crisis? See above… still chasing their tails for government controlled health care for decades, and with an exploding population of Holocaust victims after the war.

    3: As of May of this year, how’s all that catching up on debt they incurred for decades of government insurance doing? Ooops… severe physician shortages, leading to over worked and over burdened nurses, having to absorb the tasks that physicians cannot fill. Even today, more than 45% of all hospitals remain state owned and operated.

    In other words, due to historic costs that burdened the nation, they… like the US… are looking to widen the net of healthy participants today in order to pay past bills. In our case, it was because of legislated ponzi schemes and no foresight. In theirs, a new country that began with government controlled medical, and the rapid increase in Holocaust immigrants. Either way, it chasing Peter today to pay Paul’s bills from yesterday.

    Do your homework, and stop shifting the subject. And also try to remember that Israel has about 6 million in citizens to the US 310 million. One more thing I think you’ll love… it’s for “citizens”. Israel requires any new immigrants to register to participate, and generously offers an exchange humanitarian visa entry program to Palestinians who flock there for medical care, under an arrangement with the PA. Their enemies are often humanely treated at no cost under this program.

  28. 134



    @Nan G, indeed on the long history of the MB to reach out to college campus. The quest to reach the young was expanded as they embraced the social media, and the post I wrote in my first months as an FA author here about their FB launch is still applicable today.

    It’s no secret, nor new application of propaganda, to exploit the young, veritually empty political vessel. Wm Ayers has been doing it for years. One can generally gauge the success of both Ayers, and radicals such as the MB, when you look at career intelligensia, who spend decades of their more formidable young adult years collecting various sheep skins, and not interacting in the real world. Thus it is those who are perceived to be the “most educated”… in the higher education sense… that are the most hard headed and hard core socialists.

    Hopefully, the MB will not spawn educators of the same ilk to haunt our campus grounds. We have enough problem attempting to reverse the “social and economic justice” indoctrination, without adding jihad to the mix.

  29. 135

    another vet

    @Hard Right: He’s consistent with his drug use. He spouted the same stuff about Afghanistan and Iraq. Considering he keeps getting re-elected, it’s probably safe to say that Ohio has managed to consolidate a number of their wingnuts into one congressional district.

  30. 136



    @openid.aol.com/runnswim #15:

    We in the USA have inflicted a world of hurt on ourselves by pursuing a strategy of supporting US-friendly dictators.

    Our president has shown support for the protestors in Egypt over Mubarak (after some initial mixed-message indecisiveness). Yet why then the low approval ratings in Egypt for this president? Why did America drop from a 70% unfavorable rating in 2009 to a 95% unfavorable rating in 2011?

    We were the ones who put the Shah of Iran into power. Short term, we derived some benefit. Long term we sowed mistrust and instability. We ended up with the Islamic Revolution, which we were powerless to prevent. Iran was paralyzed by crippling strikes. There was nothing we could have done to prop up the Shah.

    Here’s what Reagan had to say, An American Life, pg 218-219:

    Our government’s decision to stand by piously while he was forced from office led to the establishment of a despotic regime in Teheran that was far more evil and far more tyrannical than the one it replaced. And as I was to learn through personal experience, it left a legacy of problems that would haunt our country for years to come.


    I was told by officials of the Shah’s government that after rioting began in the streets of Teheran in 1979, the Shah’s advisors told him if they were allowed to arrest five hundred people- the most corrupt businessmen and officials in the government- the revolution fires could be extinguished, and they could head off the revolution. But people in the American Embassy told the Shah to do nothing, and he didn’t. Until the very end, he kept telling his staff, “The United States has always been our friend and it won’t let me down now.”

    The Shah trusted in us, and we basically abandoned him, a staunch pro-American ally- our strongest ally at the time in the Gulf. You can claim Mosaddegh was the man we should have supported way back when; but there’s no way to really tell if history would have been written any more favorably. And since we chose to support the Shah, we should have stuck with him. The alternative turned out much worse- for us and for the people of Iran.

    Had we just left Iran alone, back in mid-20th century, we’d have been vastly better off today.

    How do you know we’d be “vastly better off today”? And seeing as how if Iranians were angry at our support of a “brutal” dictator in the Shah, and Egyptians are angered by our support for Mubarak in Egypt, what’s the lesson learned there? That we allow a less-than-perfect dictatorial ally fall (and call for his resignation), paving the way for instability and an Islamist government to possibly come to power, hostile to the U.S.?

    You and I have had discussions in the past regarding the Iranian Revolution. Back then, the Carter Administration was one of the first to rush in and recognize the new government after the overthrow of the Shah. But the Khomeinites were staunchly anti-American (due to our support of the Shah, as you’d point out). Is Iran today better off due to the fall of the Shah or worse? Is the world made safer or worse off?

    You seem to criticize American interventionism abroad, yet selectively do so, with your own opinion on who we should and shouldn’t have supported.

    Then we abrogated the Geneva accords and prevented the Vietnam reunification elections.

    And @another vet:

    As for how “free” those elections would have been in the North, when they finally did hold elections in1976, 99% voted for communist candidates. In the 50′s one million people fled to the South while only one tenth of that many fled to the North. After the fall of Saigon, two million more fled.

    To buttress another vet’s point, I cite…myself 😉 :

    We had good reason not to support an election where Ho would win “hands down”.

    Why did the U.S. block the election? It wasn’t because we didn’t trust democracy; it was because we didn’t trust communism. Two reasons why the communists would have won in ‘56:

    1)The North under communist dominion had a larger population.
    2)In North Vietnam under Ho Chi Minh, there was absolutely no free votes of any kind.

    From declassified Soviet files we have available today, we now know that they summarily murdered anywhere from 10,000 to a million people for the crime of opposing communism. So, if you have a larger population in the North where there is no freedom whatsoever- no freedom of opposition and protest, no freedom of vote, resulting in a 100% vote for communism…Going forward with a nationwide election would have been anything other than a stolen “election” and a theatrical farce?

    Back to Larry:

    We thought that Ho Chi Minh was a Sino-Soviet puppet. We were completely wrong. He was a nationalist.

    Re: another vet’s comment #25.

    Our intervention led to literally millions of deaths,

    And I say the price, too, of our non-intervention. I’m sure you believe the domino theory was wrong.

    The communist threat was real as well as the momentum of history on the side of the communist, had we not practiced a policy of interventionism.

    Conservatively, it’s estimated to have been responsible for 100 million deaths during the 20th century, most if which took place after WWII.

    After the carnage of WWII, the Soviets were laying their iron fist down everywhere through eastern Europe. They tried to take over Greece in a bloody civil war; they took over Poland, Germany was partitioned. You had satellite powers in Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Romania…Albania, Latvia. These countries fell under the communist domination. One domino after another. (The communist threat was resisted by the U.S. in Greece.)

    At one point after WWII, there was a very real chance of a communist takeover of France and Italy. With their massive land armies, the Soviets might have also taken all of Germany.

    The most disastrous fall was China.

    The Soviets were probing and testing us everywhere, advancing their interests all over the world.

    After WWII, a war-weary U.S. was eager to demobilize; but the threat of international communism made it clear that they were hell-bent on world domination.

    Stalin admitted as much to one of his Chinese colleagues. In the middle of the Korean War on August 20, 1952, he wrote to Zhou Enlai : “Americans are merchants. Germany conquered France in just 20 days. It’s already been 2 years, and America still has not subdued little Korea. No, Americans don’t know how to fight. After the Korean War in particular, they have lost the capability to wage a large-scale war. They’re fighting little Korea and already people are weeping in the U.S.A. What will happen if they start a large-scale war? Then perhaps everyone there will weep.”

    The assumption is that America could not defend its interests. Part of that assumption is because the United States had allowed Stalin and communism to triumph over China. Originally, the Maoists were Stalinist puppets, funded by and supported by the Soviets. And they weren’t satisfied with ending it there. They wished to continue extending their reach.

    Losing China is an example of the price of non-interventionism and unwillingness to exercise our influence…

    The countries that comprised the Association of Southeast Asian Nations remained free of communism, thanks to the U.S. intervention in Vietnam. The Indonesians threw the Soviets out in 1966 because of America’s commitment to Vietnam. Without that commitment, Communism would have swept all the way to the Malacca Straits.

    For all its failures and haunt on the American psyche, the Vietnam War was a turning point. It demonstrated a willingness on the part of the U.S. to stem the tide of what is estimated to have been responsible for the deaths of as many as 100 million people, most of the murders occurring after WWII.

    @Nan G #24:

    And, frankly, those Iranians who want to overthrow the Ayatollahs are just as Muslim/Islamic as the Ayatollahs are.
    Maybe the lead sled dog would change, but for everyone not in the lead, the view would remain the same.
    So, perhaps we did the right thing there.

    Are you so sure those wishing to overthrow the militant theocratic Islamist regime currently in power are just as Islamist fundamentalist? Or is it that you simply are against Islam in general?

    @MataHarley #39:

    But back to the “world legitimacy” and atta boy pats that you seem to believe to which a POTUS/CiC must bow. So what if Mubarak had lost favor. Wow… so did Musharraf, at the hands of the same western press machine as well. And at the same time, the mother of the Mullah Omar Afghanistan Taliban – Benezir Bhutto – was raised to canon status in world opinion by that same press machine.

    And let’s not forget about the Shah of Iran 😉

    @openid.aol.com/runnswim #46:

    In Egypt, there was nothing which could have been done by the USA to change the outcome. The only thing over which we had any control was our world image. Obama gave Mubarek all the time he (Obama) could have to change the course of events; when the outcome was inevitable, Obama skillfully made sure that the USA was on the correct side of history.

    How can you know yet if our abandonment of Mubarak will result in a positive outcome for us and for Egypt? It’s far too soon to know the outcome. What if a Sunni version of what happened to Iran after the Shah’s fall should fill the power vacuum? Certainly Zawahiri and his merry band of former EIJs are thrilled at an ousted Mubarak.

    @openid.aol.com/runnswim #67:

    It’s very possible to be pro-Israel and yet to be opposed to certain Israeli policies, such as expansion of settlements,

    Don’t call them “settlements”:

    Media outlets in the United States habitually distort a key issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by using the term “settlements” to identify Jewish communities on the West Bank.

    Actually, most of the so-called “settlers” live in well-established, middle-class suburban communities just minutes from Jerusalem. Maale Adumim, for instance, is a well-established bedroom community of Jerusalem, founded more than 36 years ago and now with 35,000 middle class inhabitants.

    Families in Maale Adumim have seen children and grandchildren raised in the town. Insistence on identifying even life-long residents as “settlers” conveys the mistaken idea of hostile colonists in lonely, tentative outposts. A recent New York Times headline described victims of a Palestinian terror raid as “5 West Bank Settlers”—though three of those so-called settlers were tiny children as young as three months, hardly aggressive intruders.

    The Illegal-Settlements Myth:

    The conviction that Jewish settlements in the West Bank are illegal is now so commonly accepted, it hardly seems as though the matter is even open for discussion. But it is. Decades of argument about the issue have obscured the complex nature of the specific legal question about which a supposedly overwhelming verdict of guilty has been rendered against settlement policy. There can be no doubt that this avalanche of negative opinion has been deeply influenced by the settlements’ unpopularity around the world and even within Israel itself. Yet, while one may debate the wisdom of Israeli settlements, the idea that they are imprudent is quite different from branding them as illegal. Indeed, the analysis underlying the conclusion that the settlements violate international law depends entirely on an acceptance of the Palestinian narrative that the West Bank is “Arab” land. Followed to its logical conclusion—as some have done—this narrative precludes the legitimacy of Israel itself.

    Read the rest.

    @Greg #70:

    Reports I’ve heard recently on the news suggest that there’s really not much of an Islamic extremist element in Libya–mainly because Gaddafi ruthlessly eliminated them.

    Wouldn’t that kind of suggest that allowing Gaddafi to remain in power was the lesser alternative to choosing between two evils, then?

  31. 137


    Hi Wordsmith:

    Vietnam is as I related it to be. You want to fold it into a much broader Sino-Soviet narrative. That’s not what is was. Ho Chi Minh fought against colonialism all his life. He was the George Washington of Vietnam. He’d have won the reunification elections not because of the reasons you propose, but because he was beloved by his people.

    Don’t take my word for it; ask General/President Dwight David Eisenhower.

    The fact is that Ho Chi Minh didn’t want to “work” with either the Soviets or the Chinese. He wanted to work with the USA. When the French re-colonized, he asked the USA for help. We turned him down. He didn’t fight his whole life for Vietnamese independence, only to lose it. So, of course, he took help where he could find it. But this had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Soviet (or Chinese) expansion efforts. Vietnam was NEVER the puppet or satellite of the Soviet Union. Not North Vietnam. Not the reunified Vietnam, following the defeat of the USA.

    With regard to the question of Indonesia, or the rest of Indochina for that matter, what the USA should have done is not fought a terribly misguided proxy war in Vietnam, but take a stand, if a stand needed to be taken, alongside a country which wanted us there, e.g. Thailand, if it had come to that, or else directly in Indonesia.

    Vietnam was a horribly misguided war, which caused huge damage to the the USA and the unnecessary deaths of millions of people.

    With regard to Iran, the mistake was the CIA installing the Shah in the first place. With due respect to Reagan, the suggestion that a simple arrest of 500 people would have quelled the Iranian Revolution is ludicrous, cheap Monday morning quarterbacking. Most Iranians hated the Shah. I lived in the DC area, circa 1979, and the Iranian expatriates in America, who’d come years earlier for economic reasons and were successful professionals and the like participated in large protest demonstrations in and around DC. I remember a Washington Post column where it was stated that the standard cocktail party greeting from an iranian was “Death to the Shah.” It wasn’t a literal wish — it just meant death to the Shah’s regime.

    But OK, blame Carter.

    With regard to Egypt and Libya — I’ll also stand by what I said. Obama played both situations as well as they could have possibly been played. It’s simply a personal opinion, but that’s the way I see it.

    It’s the 21st century. It’s time the USA started getting on the right side of history, dictator and self-determination-wise.

    – Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach, CA

  32. 138



    Thanks for the education, Larry. I guess I’ll have to do more reading into this (it never seems to be enough).

    Most Iranians hated the Shah.

    I’m sure they did….as Mubarak seemed to be unpopular with his people. However:

    Are we better off today for having the Shah deposed? Will the world be better off now that Mubarak is ousted? Only time will tell. And I’m a believer too, that bad decisions can have good outcomes and vice versa. We disagree on what are the good and bad choices. There are so many variables that affect the course of history, anything can take advantage and happen.

    With regard to Egypt and Libya — I’ll also stand by what I said. Obama played both situations as well as they could have possibly been played. It’s simply a personal opinion, but that’s the way I see it.

    And our personal opinions will differ on this as well. I do see President Obama as a weak leader here as well. And from what I remember at the time all this was happening, weren’t we getting mixed messages from the White House? As if the weather vane president wanted to straddle the fence on Egypt, waiting for which way the wind was blowing? He started out showing solidarity with Mubarak; then saw which way the wind was blowing, so tried to convince Mubarak to step down; but then saw himself powerless to exercise influence over Mubarak. He told him he should go now….then to remain in office until autumn, followed by a reversal hours later by Clinton throwing support behind Suleiman.

    Perhaps I’m being unfair…events were happening fast; still, the perception given off was one of weak leadership, hand-wringing, and contradictory public statements from various officials before finding a clear message to send to the world on where we (that is, the Obama Administration) stand: With or against Mubarak; with or against the protestors:

    After it was announced that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was stepping down, at about 11 a.m. on Friday, the White House announced that President Obama would speak at 1:30 p.m. Then word came that the statement would be delayed and the time was TBD, which was fitting. Throughout the 18 days of protest in Egypt, U.S. policy constantly felt like it was to be determined. At first supportive of Mubarak, U.S. policy slowly moved to appear supportive of his ouster, stopping in the middle to appear to contradict itself.

    It looked sloppy. But diplomacy is always going to look sloppy when events are moving this quickly. The president can’t move at Internet speed. By the time government officials had accurate information about what was actually happening in Cairo, the situation had changed. (The announcement was delayed Friday to make sure everyone had a clear picture.) On the other hand, there were some moments when the White House did itself no favors. CIA director Leon Panetta speculated Thursday that Mubarak would step down that night. He was wrong. There was no advantage in giving an opinion.

    The administration has also been criticized for not siding loudly enough with the protestors. America proclaims itself as a great promoter of freedom and democracy. Former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel used to boast that the president’s speech in Cairo two years ago calling for political transformation was the most important foreign policy speech in 20 years. Yet when the time came for forceful words to help protesters in the streets of Cairo, Obama seemed to lose his voice.

    Larry writes:

    It’s the 21st century. It’s time the USA started getting on the right side of history, dictator and self-determination-wise.

    How can you know that we have been on the wrong side (Iraq, Afghanistan) and how can you think we are on the right side (Iran, Egypt, Libya….)???

    Too early to tell. And I also believe that so many things are at play, that good and bad decisions can still have undeserving and unlikely outcomes in the end. You can change the course of history for the better or for the worse, and someone else or some other event down the road can influence and steer things back in another direction.

  33. 139



    I think Michael Singh points out well the problems with the dithering/lead from behind approach (even if it has to do more with public perception- perception matters!). His post in regards to our stand on the Syrian issue. It makes the President (and consequently the U.S.) appear weak, not able to exercise influence and show resolve, leadership, and strength of character.

  34. 140

    Hard Right

    Larry, you seem to miss the fact that dictatorships are a way of life in the ME. At least in Iraq they had once been more democratic and had previously been able to hold elections for leadership that weren’t rigged. There were many Iraqis who still recalled that freedom and wanted it back.
    By Carter trying to “get right with history”, he helped create the biggest threat to the ME. Again, fantasy over reality is what brought us here. Lastly Larry, you have made it clear with your dreamy eyed posts about the overthrow of ME dictators that you think it’s so wonderful. We are already seeing signs in Egypt that it is anything but true. As long as your ego is assuaged tho, that’s all that matters, eh?

  35. 141

    another vet

    @openid.aol.com/users/110: You bemoan us supporting dictators but then advocate that we should have supported Ho who was responsible for killing tens of thousands of his own people. And comparing him to George Washington? How many Americans did he kill when he became President? Ho was the Lenin/Stalin or Mao of VN, not the George Washington.

    As Wordsmith pointed out, contrary to revisionist history, the Communists were not very nice people.

  36. 142



    With regard to Egypt and Libya — I’ll also stand by what I said. Obama played both situations as well as they could have possibly been played. It’s simply a personal opinion, but that’s the way I see it.

    For the third time, Larry, you are assuming something about Obama, concerning Egypt and Libya, when the outcomes of those situations are not even close to being resolved, and the end results are not going to be known, or felt, until many years in the future. At least this time you qualified it by stating that it is your opinion, instead of declaring it an irrefutable fact like before. Still, though, the assumptions needed to make that leap of logic are rosier than experience would lead us to believe. Did you get new glasses or something?

  37. 143


    Hi Another Vet (#91): There’s a difference between “supporting” someone and just keeping our nose out of other people’s business. Whatever we may think of Ho Chi Minh today, it is a fact that he was regarded, by his own people and in his own time, as a lifelong anti-imperialist, who devoted his life to Vietnamese independence from all foreign domination, specifically including domination by the Soviet Union and China. It’s also a fact that he was revered by a large majority of his own people (according to Eisenhower, by 80% of his own people). If the Vietnamese wanted to have their economic experiment with communism Marxism) and their government experiment with Communism (Leninism), that was their business and their decision, not ours.

    I think that the US should have made it clear to France that we would not support their efforts at re-colonization, post-WWII. That’s the only “support” of which I would have been in favor. I wouldn’t have lifted one finger to assist Ho Chi Minh, but neither would I have done anything to oppose him. We had absolutely no dog in that particular hunt, and that’s the way we should have left it.

    P.S. I’d like to propose a thought experiment:

    WHAT IF:

    1. When Ho Chi Minh asked for our assistance in preventing the French from coming back into Vietnam for the purpose of re-colonizing it, post WWII, what if we’d agreed, but laid out conditions — observance of human rights, etc., but non-interference with respect to the experiment with socialism, and then provided him with the same sort of economic assistance provided to post-War Europe (Marshall Plan). It it not entirely conceivable that this would have reinforced his independence from the Soviet Union and China and paved the way for a Vietnam which would have ended up much closer to becoming a Swedish-style socialist state than it is today, along with preventing millions of deaths?

    2. What if we’d normalized relations with Castro’s Cuba decades ago?

    – Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach CA

  38. 144


    @Wordsmith, #86:

    Wouldn’t that kind of suggest that allowing Gaddafi to remain in power was the lesser alternative to choosing between two evils, then?

    Why always choose the lesser of two evils when there might be a third option that’s better than both? Why shouldn’t oil-rich Libya become a prosperous, western-friendly Muslim nation? Why automatically reject that possibility?

  39. 145


    Hi John Galt: Just for the record: nothing I have ever said here or may ever say in the future is an “irrefutable fact.”

    What I say falls into two categories:

    1. Refutable “facts” (every so called “fact” is potentially refutable, given better evidence or new evidence)
    2. Opinions.

    – LW/HB

  40. 147



    I will admit that the first time I responded, that your comment wasn’t delivered as “irrefutable fact”. However, the second time, in post #32, had you saying “Thank god he didn’t(screw them up)”. I took that to mean that you were making a statement that could not be refuted. Possibly it was the manner in which it was said. And, I did admit that the third time you stated it, you qualified it as your opinion.

    The fact remains, and I will claim it as “irrefutable”, is that only time will tell whether Obama’s actions in regards to both Libya and Egypt were correct, on the right path, just so-so, damaging to the US, or downright disastrous for the US. How long that time will be is anyone’s guess, I just don’t believe that one can reach a conclusion on Obama’s actions so soon after.That last, of course, is just my opinion, but as history is typically judged at a much later time, I believe I will stand by that.

  41. 148

    Nan G

    @Wordsmith: @Nan G #24:

    And, frankly, those Iranians who want to overthrow the Ayatollahs are just as Muslim/Islamic as the Ayatollahs are.
    Maybe the lead sled dog would change, but for everyone not in the lead, the view would remain the same.
    So, perhaps we did the right thing there.

    Are you so sure those wishing to overthrow the militant theocratic Islamist regime currently in power are just as Islamist fundamentalist? Or is it that you simply are against Islam in general?

    Did you follow the politics of the ”Green Revolutionary leaders,” Wordsmith?
    Mir-Hossein Mousavi Khameneh ran against Ahmadinejad and a lot of Green Revolutionaries supported him.
    Even the former Iranian President Khatami withdrew from the election in support of Mir-Hossein Mousavi Khameneh.

    So, what kind of Muslim is Mir-Hossein Mousavi Khameneh?

    He is a firm believer in the Twelfth Imam form of Islam.
    As is Amadinejad.

    As to the Islamist Iranian constitution Mir-Hossein Mousavi Khameneh wanted it followed to a ”tee.”
    “You can’t follow some parts of the constitution and throw the rest into a bin.”

    When he was running for office he said he is ”for” women’s rights.
    But, as you might be aware, a woman’s place in Sharia/Islam is considered more ”free” by Muslims, than any women’s places in other nations or places or times.
    So, what that means in actuality might be something quite different from what you or I miught think of when we see the words, ”women’s rights.”

    The revolutionary youth were strong supporters of this guy.

  42. 149

    another vet

    @openid.aol.com/users/110: Before responding, let me say that I am not sticking up for the French. They dropped the ball and we, being the new prominent western power, were left hanging onto it. On to your experiments.

    1. Ho was a Communist first and foremost. Check out his bio. He was a Communist before he was a nationalist therefore he was looking to unite Vietnam under a Communist dictatorship. He did not disband the Indochinese Communist Party in 1946 like he pretended to do. His “model” for Vietnam was based on Stalin’s model for the Soviet Union and Mao’s model for China. When he went to France for independence, his deputy Vo Nguyen Giap was busy killing, imprisoning, or exiling political opposition. Ho’s factions were made up of pro Soviet and pro China factions but no pro western factions. He was not a Southeast Asia version of Tito therefore he was pro Soviet, pro China, or a combination of both. When Ho went to Truman for help, Truman never responded. Based on what was happening in VN, do you think Truman was going to support someone like that, especially over the French who we had just lost tens of thousands of lives liberating from the NAZI’s? Had we have laid out terms like you suggested, based on Ho’s actions, background, and subsequent history, I seriously doubt that he would have abided by them.

    2. As for Cuba, Castro is/was a Communist dictator who we should have taken out when we had the chance. Not doing so and allowing him to become a Soviet puppet, brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. I’ve known Cubans who risked life and limb going back to Cuba to smuggle out family members. He’s not the nice guy the Hollywood historical revisionists make him out to be. He too was a brutal Communist dictator. Before he took power, Cuba was the up and coming star of the Caribbean. Now, you are either a rich Communist or a poor Communist. So much for bettering Cubans.

    As for your Ike link, I’m well aware that he said most Vietnamese would have voted for Ho. But again, when you look at history, ten times more fled South than North in the 50’s. In ’68 after the VC were crushed during the Tet, a U.S./SV victory that our press labeled a defeat, the North had to launch a conventional invasion to finally conquer the South. 2 million more fled. In 1976, 99% voted for the Communist candidate. An clear indication of rule through fear. Based on those facts, I question the extent of the support the Communists actually had.

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