Policy Shift

The continued and spreading unrest in the Arab world presents enormous challenges to the United States and other Western countries which have supported and continue to support autocratic regimes such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia. We’ve given lip service over the years to backing democratic reform, but when it came to protecting our oil supply, democracy has taken a back seat to stability. We now find ourselves encouraging the protests against the very regimes we’ve underwritten with economic and military aid for decades. In Egypt we were caught by surprise, hoping for a slow and orderly change we could get behind while not abandoning our longtime ally in Mubarak. That didn’t work so well, although the Obama administration ultimately calibrated it reasonably well. ┬áIt’s easy in Libya, where there’s been no love lost for Ghaddafi. What will we do when the revolt overtakes Saudi Arabia?

4 thoughts on “Policy Shift”

  1. I think that covers it in a nut shell, which is a heckuva lot better than in a bombshell.

    Thank god we aren’t going in overly quickly with military forces. I saw this morning where Saudi Arabia is already feeling the heat of protest, so your last sentence presents a very real possibility – and they are traditionally far more extreme Muslims, Whahabists, than the rest of the countries in revolt who are more secular – and want to stay that way.

    Excellent as always! Applause, applause at my monitor!

  2. I note, with considerable disappointment, that we appear to be planning to take some sort of military action in the case of Libya. Of course, Libya has lots of oil, Egypt does not. That we would be so brazenly opportunistic is a concern.

    1. I believe that is only as a member among many members of NATO, and then only if invited, or perhaps under the aegis of the U.N. — and again, only if invited.

      Apparently the suggestion we should be more proactive has been walked back a bit – we can only hope. Given the potential problems the Suez canal could cause (they just let an Iranian war ship through, for example), simply positioning our ships in the vicinity makes a certain sense – and may have some valuable strategic and tactical value to discouraging more violence.

      1. An effort that we did not make when unrest hit Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, or Bahrain. Is it the crazy leader, the level of state sponsored violence, or is it the oil?

        Given our track record in the region, I’m thinking it’s the oil.

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