I believe sincerely that the movements that we have seen develop first in Tunisia and now in Egypt and other countries will be the force which starts to tear down the history of oppression and violence that have dominated Middle Eastern politics since the 1st world war.
This like the movement against Apartheid in South Africa, or the movements which overthrew Stalinism or like the Civil Rights movement here in the US is one of those rare and extraordinary moments when ordinary working people stand up see beyond their constraints and push history forward.
What are the thoughts of the figures that dominate US politics today? Below are excerpts from recent interviews. I have also linked to the full transcripts as published by Fox and CBN .
Obama (speaking to Bill O’reily today before the Super Bowl.)
“He’s [Mubarak] been a good partner when it comes to the peace with Israel. There have been counter-terrorism efforts that he’s been very supportive of. But we’ve also said consistently, said to him both publicly and privately, is that trying to suppress your own people is something that is not sustainable. And part of the message that I think we’re seeing all around the world is, when you resort to suppression, when you resort to violence, that does not work.”
Sarah Palin with David Brody on CBN
“So we need to find out who was behind all of the turmoil and the revolt and the protests so that good decisions can be made in terms of who we will stand by and support.”
John McCain: It’s very — obviously a very difficult situation. And the – – it is changing literally by the hour in many respects. The only force for stability in Egypt is the army, and we want to make sure that the army maintains that position of respect by all its citizens.
I am very worried that with Mubarak not stepping down that it could cause the people to turn against the army and you could see the army acting in a way that could alienate the population. I respect President Mubarak. He took a major role after Anwar Sadat was assassinated. He’s been a good friend of America. He’s been a stalwart friend of Israel. He’s been a force for peace in the region.
Unfortunately, he stayed too long, and he did not get the process of democratization moving forward in any way. In fact, a consolidation of power. And I’m afraid and I regret to say that it’s time that he stepped down and we do everything we can to stabilize the situation in Cairo and in the rest of the country.
VAN SUSTEREN: Should President Obama tell him flat-out, “Leave now”? And if so, is a risk that he’s going to essentially turn on us or even that pro-Mubarak forces are going to see that the United States is interfering, meddling in the Middle East in that way?
MCCAIN: I think all those are risks. I’m not sure if the president should say it publicly or convey it privately to President Mubarak. I think that would be a decision the President of the United States should have to make. But I think it needs to be said either publicly or privately.
And second of all, again, the only chance we have for setting up elections in September with a free and open process is for the army to really control all of these events and make sure that a free and fair election is held. And one additional point. Our military-to-military relationship with the Egyptians is very good. We’ve had an excellent relationship with them for years. I wish we had such a good relationship with the Pakistani military outside of General Kayani. But — so I think that our military and the Egyptian military can continue this close cooperation. We don’t want the people of Egypt to turn against the army.
MCCAIN: Yes. And the other Arab country, Jordan, is — the president has just had to replace the whole government. He wouldn’t be — excuse me, the king, King Abdullah, has had to replace the whole government. This virus is spreading throughout the Middle East. The president of Yemen, as you know, just made the announcement that he wasn’t running again.
This, I would argue, is probably the most dangerous period of history in — of our entire involvement in the Middle East, at least in modern times. Israel is in danger of being surrounded by countries that are against the very existence of Israel, are governed by radical organizations. Jordan has been a fast friend of ours, a fast friend of Israel, has helped us in more ways than I can describe publicly. And yet the majority of the population of Jordan is Palestinian, not Hashemite, as the king is.
So these are very, very tenuous times and requires a steady hand and measured and mature leadership from the United States of America. And so far, I think the president has handled it pretty well.
I suppose that it would not surprise anyone that the most candid comments in these three recent interviews would come from Senator McCain, nor that the most diplomatic would come from President Obama.
But the thread of continuity is greater than the than any minor differences in nuance. Again Obama “I think we’re seeing all around the world is, when you resort to suppression, when you resort to violence, that does not work.” It does not work. And if it did work? It “worked” for the past 30 years in Egypt. It still works in Saudi Arabia. It may have to “work” in Afghanistan and Pakistan if US interests are to be served. Is the question here what does and does not work to serve US imperial interests?
McCain refers to the democracy movements sweeping the Middle East as a “virus.” Obama praises the courage of a couple of Fox news reporters who ran into trouble.
What is of course missing in any of these conversations or perspectives is praise for courage of the ordinary people in Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan and Yemen who are risking their lives in a fight for a better world.
And second of all, again, the only chance we have for setting up elections in September with a free and open process is for the army to really control all of these events and make sure that a free and fair election is held.
What has been the human cost of the support that these regimes has received from the US during the past decades? How many have been disappeared? How many tortured or murdered? How many millions of young people unemployed or underemployed? How much human talent is wasted? How much suffering and violence endured?
Viva the spirit of Tunisa! Viva the courage of the Egyptian protesters, Viva universal democracy, human rights and decency to all who grace this earth with their lives.