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Obama Backs the Rebels. No He Doesn't. The Islamists Are Coming. No They're Not. (Forget It, Jake, This Chinatown)

Obama Backs the Rebels. No He Doesn't. The Islamists Are Coming. No They're Not. (Forget It, Jake, This Chinatown)

I’m getting a headache trying to figure out whether or not to be mad at President Obama for his position on Libya and the Middle East’s big democratic moment. The biggest problem is that I can’t figure out what his position is. The second problem is that every time I think I’ve figured out where he’s headed, I can’t figure out whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing.

In a report in the Saturday Wall Street Journal, Adam Entous and Julian Barnes flatly state that the administration has decided to support the existing regimes.

On the other hand, the Washington Post’s lead foreign policy columnist David Ignatius writes on Friday, with just as much assurance, that Obama is quietly backing the rebels and looking toward dumping the autocracies.

What if the new orders that replace the old ones in Egypt and elsewhere turn out to be Islamic republics that take power democratically only to end democracy and spread jihad? Ignatius hears from his intelligence sources that it’s not going to happen.

Don’t be so sure, says Michael Scheuer, who headed the CIA’s Osama bin Laden unit during the late 1990s. He thinks the winner in these putatively democratized Arab states will turn out to be Al Qaeda and its Islamist ilk:

One of the weirder responses is Charles Krauthammer’s Thursday column, also in the Washington Post. Hopelessly stuck in Iraq circa 2003, he thinks the Libyan uprising proves Bush was right to invade, because the sterling example of Iraqi freedom and democracy is what has inspired today’s Arab youth to rise up and demand democracy. He can’t understand why we don’t just go in and take out Qadhafi, the way we took out Saddam Hussein.

Well, except for the fact that Gadhafi is currently in the midst of massacring his own citizens in order to suppress a popular uprising that they initiated. We didn’t go into Iraq to stop a massacre—Saddam hadn’t done one of those since the 1980s, and wasn’t likely to because he was boxed in by U.N. sanctions. Nor was there a popular rebellion by the Iraqi people against Saddam that we were supposedly protecting. We went in because the White House claimed he was threatening us with all those weapons he didn’t have.

Written by

J.J. Goldberg

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Obama Backs the Rebels. No He Doesn't. The Islamists Are Coming. No They're Not. (Forget It, Jake, This Chinatown)

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