By Philip Whitfield
You may fool all the people some of the time. You can even fool some of the people all of the time. But you cannot fool all of the people all the time (Abraham Lincoln). Who’s starting World War III? Mohamed Bouaziz ablaze in Tunisia? Egypt’s Tahrir Square? Qatar gushing gas to get a seat at gabfests? Saudi Arabia’s desert despotism: oil for soil?
Whatever you call it, Obama went to the United Nations with sanctimonious humbug on the teleprompter: Aware of the hostility that our engagement in the region has engendered throughout the Muslim world, the US may disengage, creating a vacuum of leadership.
The cut of Obama’s jib doesn’t square with the tenor of his voice. Nor was the speech original. He was reading a knock-off job from the same podium as JFK in 1961. President Kennedy: “Every man woman and child on this planet lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles.” President Obama: “The potential spread of weapons of mass destruction casts a shadow over the pursuit of peace.”
Ignore rhetoric. The US isn’t going anywhere soon. As Ambassador Sir Henry Wooton famously mused: “Ambassadors are honest men sent abroad to lie for their country.” Obama’s spin-doctors wrote one for his legacy collection: “The iron fist in the mailed glove. Talk peace, threaten war.”
The newest Ambassador-in-Chief says the US is prepared to use military force. The US will repeat the Gulf War if US allies are threatened. The US will ensure the free flow of energy from the Middle East. The US will dismantle terrorist networks. The US will not tolerate chemical warfare.
All to secure US interests. What might they be? President Calvin Coolidge said the chief business of the American people is business, a.k.a. making gobs of money. Obama altered the words to America’s core values. America isn’t the solution. It’s the problem. Every president since JFK sounds a cavalry charge to protect their rear end.
Were congressmen to hit the re-election trail offering to stop warmongering they’d be run out of Dodge. More Americans get a pay cheque selling guns to Egypt than the population of Cairo.
Obama gave a speech to cull votes among blue-collar Democrats. The Abram tanks Americans send are made in Lima, Ohio. The F16 fighter jets the military pirouettes over Cairo provide tens of thousands of jobs in Fort Worth and San Antonio, Texas; Johnstown, Ohio; Marietta Georgia; Palmdale, California, Pinellas Park, Florida and Greenville, South Carolina. The tear gas the cops choke you with comes from Jamestown, Pennsylvania.
The list is endless, from armoured personnel carriers to pencil sharpeners and shoelaces, hamburgers and fried chicken to epaulettes. If Obama pulls the plug on Egypt, the Democrats will lose the White House, the House and the Senate in one fell swoop. America rails against Egypt subsidizing basics. Obama stuffs billions into the Wall Street’s fat cats’ pockets who in turn, enrich the Democrats’ campaign chest.
It’s a con trick. Do you honestly believe Egypt needs fighter jets and tanks to quiet crowds outside Egypt’s mosques and churches? It’s the folk whose jobs depend on bangs for their bucks that need the military orders.
Obama’s not about to convert the USA into the United States of Armageddon. His mind harkens back to stump speeches crafted to be all things to all people. Doesn’t he get it? He was called in to fix Bush’s lax lumbering. He wasn’t elected to be a preacher, nor a lawyer skewing the facts.
The jury’s out with this dissembler ringing in their ears: The United States has purposely avoided choosing sides. Our over-riding interest throughout these past few years has been to encourage a government that legitimately reflects the will of the Egyptian people, and recognizes true democracy.
Objection, Mr President: strike that from the record. That’s hearsay with no evidence to support you. Weren’t you the first in line to pat Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood on the head? Every Egyptian and their mother knew the election was a three-card trick. The first one was fun. The second drew yawns. When it came time to pick a president everyone was sleepwalking. Didn’t your ambassador tell you that? Or did she cock you a crock?
And while you’re on oath, Mr President, that lick of democracy. Didn’t your predecessor George Bush Jr. roll out the red carpet for the dictator Mubarak at the White House? And didn’t he give Mubarak a ride on Air Force One for a pancake and maple syrup breakfast on his ranch?
As a Harvard Law School Magna Cum Laude, Mr President, you are aware, aren’t you, that your evidence is tainted by prejudicial fore judgment? You’ve stated on numerous occasions that America reserves the right to ignore the UN’s verdict and order the 5th Fleet to blast away with Tomahawks ‘til kingdom come to get democratically elected President Assad out? Is that murder or manslaughter?
Or are you going to plead, as in Iraq, it wasn’t malice aforethought? Or are you pleading that America has an inalienable right to take out anyone it dislikes as in renditions and killing Osama Bin Laden? Is that your definition of due process and the rule of law?
Obama apes Morsi. Barry the Honest Joe on the campaign trail lies on the job. Obama went to the UN armed with abstruse legal arguments. Egypt’s top jurist President Mansour is smart enough to stay put in the library. Two lawyers prosecuting a case is one too many. Chief witness Putin faxed his evidence in.
Obama’s meek mealy-mouthing hinged on bland one-liners at the UN such as: America seeks a world for human beings to live in with dignity and meeting their basic needs.
TV networks cut that out. They know their audience. Joe Lunchbucket doesn’t know or care where the Middle East is. His children can’t name the two oceans on either side of them. They think the Middle East is a country with a capital called Bad Dad. Egypt? Pyramid City. Cairo? Where they only crack your skull, if you’re lucky.
Obama hijacked Egypt to segue into a familiar refrain: “Our approach to Egypt reflects a larger point: the United States will at times work with governments that do not meet the highest international expectations, but who work with us on our core interests.”
So that’s what Egypt has to do: kowtow to a man who’s been to Egypt once. He had a quick coffee with Mubarak and didn’t stop for tea. Next up it’ll be Hillary or Kerry, both smart once. Hillary married Bill. Kerry wooed Teresa Heinz, the baked beans widow.
Like it or lump it, most of the UN earwigs are enjoying free limo parking and drinky poos, courtesy of their own civil wars. Among them: Russia (50 million dead), France (they lost count) the UK (they hadn’t learned to count) China (too many to count). America fought their own to crush the slave drivers in the South. Half a million killed; over a million wounded. One in eight lost an arm or a leg.
Islamists are risking life and limb coveting power. You can bury them with cooked-up charges, lock them up and throw away the key. Call them terrorists, if you will. If they keep at it long enough they end up running the show in one guise or another. Afghanistan is living proof.
America’s influence in Egypt is dipping faster than a Red Sea sunset. Obama says we live in a world of imperfect choices, echoing the defence of the madam caught running a brothel: I’m just offering a public service – keeping naughty boys and girls off the streets.
Philip Whitfield is a Cairo commentator.