Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Egypt: a Foreign Policy Failure

The Obama administration is in way over its head.

Posted by Stephen Brown on Feb 8th, 2011

As predicted, President Barack Obama’s attempt last week to oust Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak from power failed miserably after he ran into a steel wall of opposition from the Egyptian president and his generals. Ignoring the pressure to resign, Mubarak showed Obama he will be the one who decides when he steps down and that he has the Egyptian military’s support in doing so. The White House’s plan to force Mubarak’s immediate departure not only exhibited an embarrassing lack of knowledge concerning Egyptian society and the danger a hasty coup would pose to Egypt’s fragile stability, but also that long-time American allies cannot rely on the Obama administration when in difficulty. This latest policy setback indicates, as has long been suspected, that in the area of foreign affairs, the Obama administration is in way over its head.

Perhaps the largest misstep in the failed attempt to get Mubarak out was made by Obama himself. In an obvious misreading of the political situation and of Mubarak’s character, President Obama intervened personally in Egyptian internal affairs with a hasty, 30-minute phone call to Mubarak last Tuesday evening after the Egyptian president said in a speech to the nation he would not seek re-election in September. The speech met with a mixed reception, but managed to garner sympathy among segments of the population, a development the White House had obviously not even considered.  Read More