Friday, February 18, 2011


People's Daily

PJ: As I mentioned in other posts, for many, the Obama administration is in a precarious position with respect to the Middle East. America is seen around the globe as a country that looks out for its own interests vs. the interests of citizens of other countries. If President Obama continues to stand firm for the rights of people vs. (just) strategic interests of the US that will ultimately secure the trust that has the power to accomplish both.

printed in its entirety

US backfires fueling Mideast flames
By Li Hongmei

When Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in Tunisia on Dec. 17 after a municipal worker confiscated his wares, the young man's act of desperation has thus far spurred a wave of revolts sweeping the entire region, toppling the regimes in Tunisia and Egypt and threatening to engulf other countries across the Middle East---- from Algeria to Iran and the countries in between, the "revolution" is rippling across the Arab world.

Even though the upheavals affecting the region have not followed the same course, they are all put under the sharp Eagle Eyes of the U.S., and some even labeled as "Made-in-USA" popular uprisings.

The White House promptly expresses its willingness to push "autocratic governments" in the Middle East to accelerate political and economic reforms, a message that is also raising fears in those countries about the hidden hand of the U.S. behind the chaos, mainly because of America's woeful reputation throughout the Middle East.

The Obama administration's tepid, perhaps, reluctant, open backing for Mr Mubarak and its backroom machinations to push him aside have actually provoked an alarmed reaction from officials in Saudi Arabia, other Persian Gulf states and Israel. Saudi officials have complained for days about the ''blatant interference'' of foreign governments in the Egyptian crisis.

Currently, It might be advisable for the Obama administration to keep low-profiled and, resist the temptation to play an active role on behalf of demonstrators that are now challenging the "tyranny regimes", as attempts of the kind could throw American credibility at especially low ebb, no matter how desirable the over-zealous American politicians think it is to rush in and teach the region's "would-be-nation-builders" how to create and operate an effective democratic political system.

On the flip side, the Mideast governments should refrain from expecting much on the U.S help, if they happen to face mass protests. As a matter of fact, there is already a sharp division within the White House over how much hope or pressure to exert on the concerned countries in the region, in particular, its allies, whose cooperation is critical to US priorities of counterterrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, containing Iran and its other interest-related concerns.

What counts most to the U.S. is nothing but its own interests, which is shown crystal clear when Obama came out to say it was time for Mubarak to go. The statement made by the White House that it intends to stand by its friends and seeks the regional stability is merely a lip service, always outweighed by American strategic interests.

As for the exaggerating power of twitter and face book allegedly behind all the upheavals, and the so-called "Internet diplomacy" which is a new fever intoxicating the US top diplomat Hillary Clinton, they more likely tend to be a double-edged sward than a handy tool for "democracy promotion" as imagined by Americans. The fallout thereby brought about would also entangle the U.S. with a sea of troubles.

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