Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tunisia and Egypt, Foreign Policy and Wikileaks

Didn't know how to start my blog, but went to CNN's page to check up on Egypt's current situation and voilà: "Should the West take sides in the Egypt crisis?"- asks Quickvote.

At first I thought that the West shouldn't get involved in neither of the crisises, because we all knew how tricky foreign politics can get. Every word counts! Take for example the instance when French President, Nicholas Sarzkozy, was asked whether his government would have accepted Algerian president (Abdelaziz Bouteflika), if something similar to Tunisian situation happened there. Did Sarkozy answer? Of course not!

Why didn't Sarzkozy answer? Because everybody (who is at least a little bit familiar with international relations) knows the rules of the game: everyone (i.e. every country) is on his/her own. Well, maybe not Canada...

The truth is that (even I, an idealist, recognize that!) we live in a realist world. Every head of state represents only and only his/her country's interests and that's it. Unless they are Woodrow Wilson or Jimmy Carter.

Do you think Biden doesn't think that Mubarak is a dictator? Of course he does, he just cannot say it, because he is the Vice-President of the United States! If Biden had called Hosni Mubarak a dictator and Mubarak didn't get ousted, the US would have lost one of their main allies in the Middle East. Have you seen the size of the foreign aid package US sends to Egypt?! Some argue that it's close to $1,5 billion, second only to Israel's "support."

The Middle Eastern question is also closely connected to the issue of Islamic extremism and terrorism, which is of course the biggest concern of the US foreign policy. If Mubarak is indeed ousted, there is a big chance that Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood will take a wrong turn and produce something similar to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, who drives the whole world crazy with the claims of Iran's nuclear potential. Ina nutshell, as with any revolution, there is always a chance that everything will get worse rather than better. That is what the US is scared of and that is why Biden and Obama have been so disappointingly cautious talking about the situation in Egypt. I totally understood them!..

Until I remembered that the US was also the flagship of democracy, that promoting democracy is in fact the second objective of US foreign policy (once upon a time it used to be the first.) Until I remembered that it's the US that encourages people around the world to fight for their rights and freedom and pursue their dreams...Unless this "pursuit of happiness" somehow counteracts the US' foreign interests. Us prefers to protect its international interests rather than support people of Egypt in their fight for freedom. There is a chance in Egypt that something might go wrong and the US doesn't want to risk it. The happiness of Egyptian people is of course a secondary issue to the US foreign policy...

This double-facedness of foreign politics is exactly what Wikileaks have shown us. This and nothing else, nothing but the truth. The truth that explains why Biden so eagerly labeled Julian Assange a "high-tech terrorist" and was so reluctant to call Mubarak a "dictator."

And you, what do you make of all these surprising, exciting, and at some instances sad and tragic, but truly historic developments?

6 comments:

  1. Very informative, thanks for sharing:)

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  2. I'm also an idealist and mostly share your views, especially that in a revolution, especially one that is borne out of democracy, countries such as the US have to accept the outcome. Mubarak (like Musharraf) was a leader that the US reluctantly had to support because of his status as a strategic ally. But sometimes democracy is a bitter pill for the US to swallow, like the Hamas-led government in Palestine. Time will tell if the new Egyptian government becomes "another Iran" but I for one don't believe it will lead to a domino effect in the Middle East that basically switches one set of dictators for another. I'm hopeful, anyway, that Egypt and Jordan will remain as an essential bulwark against radical Islamism.

    It's important to note that we're still in 2 wars and there's a line that has to be walked. Obama is a divisive president as it is and although the president and the administration retain my support I have to admit there's not much he could've done in this situation other than his usual pseudo-committal statement of support to the freedom of the Egyptian people. On the one hand, you have the loss of a key ally (Mubarak) and on the other, the "great unknown" that revolution might bring with it an undesirable government. With the war in Afghanistan basically shifting to a strategy that aims to win the hearts and minds of a civilian population that is starting to favor the Taliban to another decade of US-led warfare and chaos, with a "secret war" to root out al Qaeda in Pakistan ramping up, it's easy to see that freedom and democracy has to take a back seat for now in US foreign policy. American diplomacy and intelligence services are definitely going through a "difficult phase" at the moment.

    Which is why Wikileaks upset them so much, like a big, flaming fondue pot in the middle of a messy table. The last thing the US wants right now is a public airing of their dirty laundry. And it's not Julian Assange's fault it happened, it was their own security breach. It makes them look bad and with no Official Secrets Act (like England) and the judiciary limiting the reach of the Executive Branch with regards to punishing espionage, it's just one big embarrassment.

    By the way....great to see you. Haven't seen you since ODU and it looks like you've been busy! :-)

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  3. OMG! Kevan! I am so glad to hear from you! So glad you found me here! Thanks for the comment! Sorry, I am writing back so late, I don't even visit my blog that often anymore and that's something I have to work on :)

    I definitely agree with everything you said here. Economist keeps highlighting the point that US is already involved in 2 wars and is supposed to be working on improving their relationship with Muslim countries... So clearly it's not US interest to get too involved anywhere else. I guess the balance between realpolitik and moral, responsible, humane politics is ever illusive... But now with everything that's going on in Libya, I am even more upset with American and international response. This is really a shame! I'll try to write up a post about it this weekend.

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  4. Great to hear from you too. I actually found you quite by accident really, as I was resaerching nonprofit jobs on Google. I ran across A Drink for Tomorrow, and then you and this interesting little blog you have here. :)

    Anyway, I'm not on Facebook but feel free to email me if you wish...there should be a link in my Blogger profile.

    Take care! :)

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  5. It's so funny you found me by accident! I will email you soon! Promise! As for researching nonprofit jobs, check out idealist.org It's the best site for looking up nonprofit jobs, it has thousands of US and international listings, and many useful resources as well. Are you looking for jobs/internships/or volunteering?

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  6. Yeah, I think SimplyHired.com sent me to idealist.org a few times. Ideally I'm looking for a job, because I've done volunteering here and there and then had a few illnesses that took me away from the job hunt but now I'm looking for a way back in. Hopefully I can find something I'm passionate about.

    Thanks a lot for the links; I've bookmarked them. I'm so glad you're doing well. :) Take care!

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