President Ronald Reagan was not quick to respond to crowds in the street. He complained, for example, that we probably made a mistake in abandoning the Shah of Iran.
Consider for a moment the morality of this Egyptian Crisis and what the American government is now saying. We are telling Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the man who helped bring peace to the Middle East, to leave power, to go. And why are we saying this? Well, because he is bad for his people. There is corruption and poverty. Well then, why didn’t we tell him to go last year? Why now? Because there is a mob in the street and it is likely that they represent a majority?
So if we can turn out a mob in the street against Obama and we can show by public opinion polls that this represents a majority, will Obama leave? Of course not. That is not democracy. Nor is it freedom. Not in American and not in Egypt either. It may very well be in our interests as a nation to advocate the removal of Hosni Mubarak but let us not hypocritically claim that this is being done in the name of freedom.
And what is the message to Jordan, perhaps the most responsible and caring of its people of all the governments in the Middle East. This country has no oil and yet. arguably, it has done more with less to improve conditions and opportunity for its people, and all within the traditions of Islam, than any other nation in the Middle East. Well, it is a monarchy. Not a democracy. If someone can get a mob going shall we oppose them?
Reagan was an admirer of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who once said, “It is permitted in time of grave danger to walk with the devil until you have crossed the bridge.” During World War Two we supported Stalin, one of history’s greatest murders, in order to defeat Hitler, one whom we decided, was even worse.
During the Cold War, when the enemy switched from Fascism to Communism, Reagan supported dictatorships under the same premise. Once more, we sometimes “walked with the devil to cross the bridge.” Reagan saw a manipulative, ingenious communist enemy that was especially good at using people on the street to push for revolutions which ultimately led to their own enslavement.
We can trace out current dilemma with Egypt and Hosni Mubarak to George W. Bush and the invasion of Iraq. When it became clear that there were no weapons of mass destruction we redefined the purpose of our attack, we said our invasion was important for bringing democracy to the world. We were attacking the Iraqi nation to bring “freedom.” Never mind that in Iraq we would be empowering a Shiite majority who would likely vote to tilt Iraq into the same camp with Iran. Never mind that Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Islamic states would be diminished. Never mind that a carefully won balance of power in the Middle East, created over the dead bodies of millions of Iranians and Iraqi youth would be thrown into chaos, if that was what the majority wanted, that is what would be morally right.
The problem is that many believe we are once again at war. This time we are in a defensive war against Islamic Terrorists. And once again, the street mob can be used against us, even democracy can be used against us. Indeed, it is democracy that brought Hezbollah to power in Lebanon and Hamas to power in Gaza. And the Islamic terrorists are watching the drama in Egypt and they will surely adapt and provoke the same thing again, in other places.
Ronald Reagan was not afraid to recognize danger. He publicly called the Soviet Union “the evil empire.” This was roundly criticized as dangerously provocative. People were in denial.
Obama’s problem is that he has sought to defuse the war with Islamic Fundamentalists by pretending that it does not exist. The national media has concurred and sees this as a logical approach. It is quite similar to the role that liberals played in the Cold War, downplaying the communist threat, scoffing at stories of mass murder or corruption, acknowledging only what affirmed the party line. Hoping that by being nice to the enemy the problem would go away.
During the Cold War Fidel Castro came to power with the enthusiastic endorsement of Americans who had no idea he was a communist. The media didn’t say until it was too late. And today national television news stories report on Islamic – Christian wars in Africa, without explaining to viewers who is being killed by whom for what. It is driving masses to the internet to get the most basic information, for the network journalists simply will not provide it.
Today, we are giving people in the Middle East the right to vote, even knowing that they may use that power to elect Islamic clerics who will take the right away. Our announced policy of “exporting freedom” is not resonating well. Most people in the Middle East do not want our version of “freedom” which, to them, equates with “license.” When we accuse them of degrading their women they point to our massive pornography industry. This is freedom? Who is degrading women?
All of this brings us to the end game in the Middle East. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. If a mob of immigrants in that country, non citizens, take to the streets and demand a new government will we support the mob? Remember, in Saudi Arabia the immigrants outnumber the citizens. If Saudi Arabia is touched by extremism, if her oil fields are touched, America and Europe will be at risk. So, this is a question that we must answer now. And we must be prepared to stand by our answer.
What would Reagan do? Reagan would not be in denial. He would recognize that we are in a war with Islamic Terrorists. And this strategic reality should transcend any sentimental discussions about forcing American style freedom on an Islamic people who do not want it. Reagan would be prepared to stand by the House of Saud. And he would make that commitment clearly and unashamedly. And he would make it early. Reagan would focus on winning the war. On our survivability as a people. Reagan would put America first and count on her goodness to help the world when the storm and the war had passed over. Obama would do well to remember Ronald Reagan this day. We all should.