January 27 2012
So How's That Arab Spring Working Out?
Okay, the Egyptian military isn’t exactly pharaoh, but I hope the message from our government regarding at least half a dozen U.S. citizens—including the son of a Cabinet member—being barred from leaving Egypt is unequivocal: Let our citizens go!
Sam LaHood, son of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, is one of our citizens being detailed in Egypt. LaHood works for the Republican International Institute, an organization that promotes democratic institutions around the world.
Several other detainees work for the National Democratic Institute, a similar institution led by Democrats. Cairo headquarters for both organizations were raided last month, and the Egyptians are claiming that there was foreign influence in their elections.
And this treatment is comimg from a country to which we annually send $1.3 billion in aid. Congress has tried to impose conditions on granting this aid:
The White House negotiated intensely to allow the president the option of waiving the conditions, if necessary, in the name of national security. Now Hillary Rodham Clinton, the secretary of state, is required to certify that Egypt is making democratic progress — carrying out “policies to protect freedom of expression, association and religion, and due process of law” — before releasing the aid this fiscal year.
Here’s a condition I’d suggest for receiving our aid: Sam LaHood and all the other detainees safely on a plane heading home or ixnay on the $$$.
Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton said on Fox that this is a “very serious” matter because it carries the “implicit threat” that these people could be put on trial for engaging in activities the previous Mubarak government approved.
The military, of course, was closely allied with Mubarak. So why is the military suddenly turning on U.S. citizens?
“So I think it’s not just the military I would look at here — I think I see the hand of the Muslim Brotherhood, as well,” [Bolton] continued. “They’re trying to push out Western programs, U.S. in particular, that have helped democracy. And that’s not good — whether the military’s in back of this or the Muslim Brotherhood. It’s a very serious symbol, I think, of problems for the United States in the very near future.”
We fear for the safety of these Americans. But I think this situation also says something about the esteem in which the U.S. is held in the Middle East. It also says something about the naïveté of the Obama administration’s response to the Arab Spring (so-called) and the Muslim Brotherhood.
President Obama came in promising to love bomb the world and charm dictators. We would have a new era in which the United States, having apologized for everything from Custer’s Last Stand to—well, you name it—would have more friends than a Dale Carnegie graduate.
Little did most of the voting public suspect that three years into this experiment not only would we have citizens detained in Egypt but even our friendly neighbor to the north would have cause to be displeased with us.