The difference between Jimmy Carter’s mistakes in handling the 1979 revolution in Iran and Obama’s handling of the 2011 revolution in Egypt is that Carter’s team made mistakes out of ignorance and naiveté. Thirty-one years later, Obama’s diplomatic team cannot claim naiveté in dealing with the Muslim Brotherhood and the radical Islamists. Obama is consciously supporting the Islamists in Egypt and facilitating their rise to power.
How else can one explain the extraordinary statements of James Clapper, Obama’s director of national intelligence, in his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, that the Muslim Brotherhood is a “secular organization” that has “eschewed violence”? They operate hospitals in Egypt, so they must be peace-loving humanitarians? Hamas operates charities in the Gaza territory, so they are not really dedicated to the destruction of Israel?
We might forgive some American citizens for being confused about the character and goals of some Islamic organizations disguised as charities, but don’t we expect more from our “intelligence community”? As one wit has already observed following Clapper’s testimony, we might as well abolish Clapper’s agency and save the taxpayers $40 billion if this is the quality of “intelligence” our policymakers are getting from that bureaucracy.
Clapper’s statements, made this past week at the height of the Egyptian crisis, might be excused or explained away if they were an isolated incident. But his statements are part of a pattern of mischaracterizing and underestimating the threat from radical Islam. Clapper’s testimony can only be viewed as part of the Obama administration’s persistent efforts to “humanize” the Muslim Brotherhood and prepare the ground for a new Islamist-run Egyptian government.
In his televised interview on Super Bowl Sunday with Fox News pundit Bill O’Reilly, Obama specifically included the Muslim Brotherhood in the groups that must be included in any new Egyptian government. This is the equivalent of President Woodrow Wilson welcoming the Bolsheviks into the Russian government in 1917.
Obama went to Cairo in 2009 to deliver his first speech on foreign soil, a speech that was billed as his “outreach to the Muslim world.” Obama specifically requested that representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood be invited to the speech.
In 2005 parliamentary elections in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood won 20 percent of the vote by putting on a moderate face and talking about social reforms and civil liberties. But in 2008 they replaced their leadership with a more fundamentalist, less secular group that has renewed the call for Shariah law and a turn away from Western civil institutions. Surely, our intelligence community knows this.
Today in Egypt, there are a dozen or more secular, reformist parties that will seek public support in the next elections. We have to ask, why is the Obama administration favoring the Muslim Brotherhood and insisting that they be included in any constitutional reform committee?
The contrast between Obama’s behavior during the Iranian street protests in 2009 and his very visible intervention in the Cairo situation is chilling. Pro-democracy demonstrators against the corrupt Ahmadinejad theocracy, which had rigged the presidential election to guarantee Ahmadinejad’s victory, were greeted with indifference in the White House. Thousands of Iranian dissidents were jailed and tortured. But when Cairo erupted in protests against a secular dictatorship, Obama readily took sides.
We live in a far more dangerous world in 2011 than we did in 1979. When the radical mullahs seized power in Iran and imposed a dictatorship based on radical Islamic doctrine, we thought it might be a short-lived experiment and not a direct threat to the United States. Today Iran is on the verge of getting nuclear weapons and is exporting money and “revolutionary training cadres” to Venezuela and elsewhere. Hezbollah has seized power in Lebanon and Hamas controls Gaza. In this environment, why are we welcoming a political role for the Muslim Brotherhood in the most populous nation in the Middle East?
Both by constitutional separation of powers and by tradition, the president has wide latitude in conducting foreign policy. George Bush waged a war to achieve “regime change” in Iraq and was widely criticized for it. Obama clearly has a different vision of regime change, one that includes anti-American radicals dedicated to the destruction of Western democracy.
What we need most is regime change in Washington, D.C.