Fareed Zakaria on Sunday, February 13, 2011 in his GPS (Global Public Square) show on CNN said, “We watched history being made last Friday as a dictatorship was overthrown. But barely had the uprising ended then we began our grand national tradition as Monday morning quarterbacks.” I agreed with Zakaria’s conclusion that Obama had handled a difficult, delicate situation (with a still murky outcome), about as well as possible.
One such Monday morning Facebook quarterback, James Strauss (writer for “Deadwood, “House” and “John from Cincinnati”) said, on Facebook: “I’m very happy about what’s happening in Egypt but disappointed that our country did not lead the battle in helping them get to this point.” His comment was representative of many.
Zakaria ‘˜s take? Those second-guessing Obama’s response (one post castigated the administration’s public pronouncements as “Obama’s stuttering and stammering,”) were being unfair.
REAGAN AND MARCOS IN THE PHILIPPINES
Zakaria pointed out that Ronald Reagan dithered for 3 years before coming out against Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines when a popular, nonviolent revolution and prayerful mass street demonstrations in 1986 (“the Yellow Revolution”) toppled a 20-year repressive regime.
BILL CLINTON AND SUKHARTO IN INDONESIA
It took Bill Clinton a year and a half to finally come out against Sukharto in Indonesia in 1997 (before the INF toppled that regime.) Despite the fact that the Sukharto family had amassed roughly $20 to $40 billion with nepotism running rampant for the dictator’s 6 children, who were allowed to hold monopolies on key industries the average per capita income for Indonesian citizens fell from $1200 per capita to $300. Rebellion was imminent, according to the January 29, 1998 “New York Times” and the January 26, 1998 “U.S. News & World Report.” Yet, www.Solidarity reported that “Clinton sent top government officials to Jakarta to make clear to Sukharto and others that Washington remained on their side.” The currency meltdown in the country caused an 80% drop in the rupiah’s value. Only 22 of 282 companies on Jakarta’s Stock Exchange remained viable as things fell apart. Sukharto was sitting pretty in May of 1997. By January 22, 1998, the end was near for the 76-year-old dictator and his 32-year regime. Double-digit inflation. Unemployment. Even the invasion of East Timor in 1975 was overlooked by Washington (which expressed only mild criticism for the human rights violations of the regime) because those concerns placed second to strengthening our military ties in the area.
DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER and THE HUNGARIAN FREEDOM FIGHTERS
Going back even further to the days of Dwight Eisenhower (1953-1961), Hungarian Freedom Fighters fought in the streets from October 23 to November 10, 1956. I remember this as an 11-year-old schoolgirl whose mother said (I was home from 6th grade) that we might soon be at war. Instead, the United States watched as 2,500 Hungarians and 700 Soviet troops were killed in the streets in 1956. Freedom Fighters, armed with homemade Molotov cocktails threw bottles filled with kerosene into tanks that mowed them down in the streets. Two hundred thousand Hungarians fled the country as refugees. By January of 1957, the new Soviet government had suppressed all public opposition and Soviet control over central Europe had been strengthened.
BARACK OBAMA & EGYPT
It took Obama one week to get behind the democratic uprising in Egypt and express support for the Egyptian people. This despite the fact that our other allies watched to see what we’d do and the fact that the future leaders of Egypt, a country that traditionally has done our bidding, remain unclear as of this writing.
I rest my case.