The so-called Arab Spring began in the middle of December, 2010. Its inauspicious beginning arose from a Muslim fanatic in Tunisia that was so offended by being slapped by a woman police officer that he set himself on fire in protest. In all probability the term was a media-generated fanciful wish that sought to compare the accompanying and prolonged violence we are witnessing in the Middle East to a legitimate movement toward democracy known as the Prague Spring. Other than the common usage of the term “Spring” there is not a single, legitimate element of commonality.
In February of 2011, less than a month after Marc Lynch writing in the political journal Foreign Policy coined the phrase, I wrote an article that noted at the outset:
“Enough Already. The naïve euphoria over the “popular uprising” in Egypt and other Middle Eastern nations has caused America’s mainstream media to enter a mental state reminiscent of a thirteen year old’s crush on Justin Bieber – unreasonable, unfathomable and unsustainable. The euphoria is fueled by like-minded simpletons in the State Department who, despite consistent failure, still believe that diplomacy will conquer the violent will of ruthless men.
“Is the Middle East on a historical march to freedom and democracy? What, are you crazy? The most likely outcome of these “popular uprisings” is the replacement of brutal, autocratic despots with brutal, theocratic despots. It is possible that Egypt, solely because of its armed forces, might temporarily resist the wave of Islamic fundamentalism but even that will be of relatively short duration.”
Time wounds all heels. The passage of two years has proved me right and President Obama, his barely able cabal in the State Department, and the mainstream media wrong –dead wrong. As I noted in October of 2011:
“The naivete of politicians when it comes to dealing with tyrants, madmen and genuine evil in the world continues to astound me. I recently finished reading Wilson Miscamble’s The Most Controversial Decision – the detailed and well documented decision by President Harry Truman to drop the nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The most startling thing about the book was not the difficulty that Truman had with his decision to drop the bombs – he made that decision before the bombs were fully developed or tested and never wavered – rather it was the extraordinary naivete of his belief that he could deal personally with Joseph Stalin and that Stalin was the “moderating” force in the Soviet Union.
“Mr. Truman’s mistaken belief was a holdover from his predecessor, Franklin D. Roosevelt and the “diplomats” running the State Department. It was only after repeated aggressions by Mr. Stalin and the emergence and conversion of Secretary of State Dean Acheson that Truman adopted a more aggressive policy of containment reinforced by military action.
“President John Kennedy succeeded President Dwight Eisenhower and re-established the politics of naivete. Mr. Kennedy was so regularly irresolute over the continuous advance and aggression of the Soviet Union that he was finally forced into a showdown with Soviet Union over the Cuban Missile Crises – a confrontation that should never have happened except for pusillanimous pussyfooting of the “diplomats” at his State Department. One only has to remember the disaster at the Bay of Pigs to understand how cowardice in the face of aggression breeds further aggressive actions.
“President Jimmy Carter smiled his way into the presidency after the disaster of President Richard Nixon. Mr. Carter presided over the rise of the Iranian theocracy – Ayatollah Khomeini – highlighted by the invasion and capture of the United States Embassy and the holding of 52 Americans hostage for nearly 450 days. His “turn the other check” form of diplomacy was engineered by Cyrus Vance – a patrician Wall Street lawyer – so adverse to confrontation that he resigned when Mr. Carter authorized Operation Eagle Claw, the disastrously failed attempt to recover the hostages.”
It’s not that I am prescient; rather it is that the same conduct by Mr. Obama and his liberal predecessors guarantees the same result. For all of his supposed intelligence, Mr. Obama continues to refuse to undertake the single act that marks the truly intelligent and the truly successful – critical self-analysis and acknowledgement of when something goes wrong. Worse yet it is becoming more apparent that Mr. Obama is incapable of even recognizing the mistakes. In a previous column criticizing the politics of appeasement I noted:
“And yet, here are the Druids of Foggy Bottom – pulling on their Meerschaums, and twirling their Courvoisier – in perfect nasal unison, urging another round of pointless negotiations with international criminals. How many years, how many generations, how many failures must the diplomatic corps accept before they come to the conclusion that diplomacy only works among civilized nations both seeking a solution to a common problem? It has never worked in dealing with tyrants, despots or religious fanatics. Every guy confronting a bully knows that. Someone once opined that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”
But Mr. Obama was re-elected. I am certain that a large proportion of America – as am I – are tired of years of war with Muslim nations controlled by Islamic extremists. The fact that Mr. Obama is hailing an end to these wars and a withdrawal of combat troops gladdens the hearts of most Americans – particularly those with friends and family in harm’s way.
But Mr. Obama’s retreat is simply a part of an overall demonstration of weakness and irresoluteness. It is just a part of his apology tour, his failure to deal with the continuing advances of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, the failures in Libya that resulted in the assassination of our ambassador, and so on and so on seemingly indefinitely. Which brings us to the next major international crises.
Iran will have an assembled nuclear weapon before the middle of summer. And what will we do? Nothing – well we’ll express our “condemnation,” no our “strong condemnation”, maybe our “strongest condemnation” – but beyond that nothing. For awhile Mr. Obama will argue – as did Vice President Biden – that Iran does not possess a delivery vehicle for a nuclear weapon and therefore they are still not a nuclear threat. Mr. Obama knows that, in fact, Iran does possess a delivery vehicle and that they will use it at their first opportunity. Mr. Obama’s fervent belief in “diplomacy” in face of naked aggression guarantees another timid response.
History has consistently demonstrated that diplomacy is futile when dealing with tyrants and despots. Those who espouse diplomatic responses to continuously dangerous provocations have so consistently backed down that those tyrants and despots have learned they will prevail through delay and persistence. Diplomacy only works to resolve conflicts among nations of goodwill. It is force and the threat of force that is necessary to hold tyrants and despots in check.
It is pointless to discuss the alternatives because Mr. Obama will never pursue them. Mr. Obama’s motivation is irrelevant; it is only the result that matters. And the result is that, within six months we will be living with a nuclear armed nation that is a throwback to Nazi Germany but without the mental stability – as little as there was – of its leadership.