Limited government in foreign policy

George Will defends President Obama against those who criticize him for not being able to control what is happening in Egypt:

In 1949, when communists came to power there [in China], America bestrode both hemispheres shattered from war. Americans thought that their nation was at the wheel of the world and that whatever happened, wherever, happened at America’s instigation, or at least its sufferance, or was evidence of American negligence.

It is a sign of national maturity – the product of hard learning, from Korea and Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan – that fewer American complainers are today faulting the Obama administration for not anticipating and shaping events in Egypt. Israel, which lives next door to Egypt and has an excellent intelligence service, did not see this coming. So, a modest proposal:

Those Americans who know which Republican will win next year’s Iowa caucuses can complain about those who did not know that when a Tunisian street vendor set himself on fire, he would set a region afire. From all other Americans, forbearance would be seemly.

It also would be amazing, because there is a cottage industry of Barack Obama critics who, not content with monitoring his myriad mistakes in domestic policies, insist that there must be a seamless connection of those with his foreign policy. Strangely, these critics, who correctly doubt the propriety and capacity of the U.S. government controlling our complex society, simultaneously fault the government for not having vast competence to shape the destinies of other societies.

via George F. Will – Egypt’s revolution to win or lose.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    George Will is off his rocker.
    The complaint isn’t that Obama is incompetent to control what’s going on in Egypt. No, the complaint is that he thinks he is competent to do that. His meddling is what’s incompetent.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    George Will is off his rocker.
    The complaint isn’t that Obama is incompetent to control what’s going on in Egypt. No, the complaint is that he thinks he is competent to do that. His meddling is what’s incompetent.

  • Jimmy Veith

    I agree with George Will on his main point. (Although I don’t think that Obama has made “myriad mistakes in domestic policies”.)

    To Mike @ 1, what did Obama say or do that makes you think that his mistake is that “he thinks he is competent to do that” , ie, control what’s going on in Egypt? Every time I have heard him speak on the subject he mentions that ultimately the fate of Egypt is in the hands of the Egyptians, or words to that effect.

    It seems to me that many Obama critics are so angry and/or confident that they already got him all figured out, that they fail to listen to what he actually says. (This was evident several weeks ago on this blog when Dr. Veith invited comments about the President’s State of the Union Message, and many commented that they couldn’t stand to hear him speak so they didn’t watch it.)

  • Jimmy Veith

    I agree with George Will on his main point. (Although I don’t think that Obama has made “myriad mistakes in domestic policies”.)

    To Mike @ 1, what did Obama say or do that makes you think that his mistake is that “he thinks he is competent to do that” , ie, control what’s going on in Egypt? Every time I have heard him speak on the subject he mentions that ultimately the fate of Egypt is in the hands of the Egyptians, or words to that effect.

    It seems to me that many Obama critics are so angry and/or confident that they already got him all figured out, that they fail to listen to what he actually says. (This was evident several weeks ago on this blog when Dr. Veith invited comments about the President’s State of the Union Message, and many commented that they couldn’t stand to hear him speak so they didn’t watch it.)

  • SKPeterson

    @Mike #1 – I’m more in line with G. Will on this. What kind of competent or incompetent meddling has Obama done? The only thing I’ve seen is that we appear to be talking out of both sides of our mouth, which is what politicians usually do. I think what we should have been doing is keeping our mouths shut, beyond wishing Egypt and the Egyptian people well, deploring any violence by either side, and that’s it.

  • SKPeterson

    @Mike #1 – I’m more in line with G. Will on this. What kind of competent or incompetent meddling has Obama done? The only thing I’ve seen is that we appear to be talking out of both sides of our mouth, which is what politicians usually do. I think what we should have been doing is keeping our mouths shut, beyond wishing Egypt and the Egyptian people well, deploring any violence by either side, and that’s it.

  • Cincinnatus

    SKPeterson (and Jimmy): What kind of “meddling” has Obama done? Oh, let us count the ways: funding and arming Mubarek’s regime (as America has done for three decades), covertly supporting protesters, pressuring Mubarek to shake up his cabinet/government, pressuring Egypt to end various restrictive legislation (such as its prohibition on internet communications), etc., etc., etc.

    Was that a serious question? The Egyptian situation is a festival of stupid on all sides. It’s a product of imperialism: Mubarek is our fault, and chances are that the protests can be traced back to our interference in some way as well. Moreover, the fact that so many Americans are “siding” with the revolutionaries is just ignorant. Democracy in all forms isn’t good, it’s none of our business, and the product is just as likely to be an Islamic dictatorship than anything else.

    Go away, Egypt.

  • Cincinnatus

    SKPeterson (and Jimmy): What kind of “meddling” has Obama done? Oh, let us count the ways: funding and arming Mubarek’s regime (as America has done for three decades), covertly supporting protesters, pressuring Mubarek to shake up his cabinet/government, pressuring Egypt to end various restrictive legislation (such as its prohibition on internet communications), etc., etc., etc.

    Was that a serious question? The Egyptian situation is a festival of stupid on all sides. It’s a product of imperialism: Mubarek is our fault, and chances are that the protests can be traced back to our interference in some way as well. Moreover, the fact that so many Americans are “siding” with the revolutionaries is just ignorant. Democracy in all forms isn’t good, it’s none of our business, and the product is just as likely to be an Islamic dictatorship than anything else.

    Go away, Egypt.

  • Porcell

    Mike is right, While Obama can’t be criticized for controlling Egypt, his administration took too long to back off from Mubarak, and, since sort of favoring the democracy advocates, his administration statements have been at best ambiguous.

    Also, we have no clear evidence that Obama understands the threat of a radical Islamic takeover of Egypt through the Muslim Brotherhood. Iran and alQuaeda are salivating at this prospect and likely making serious efforts to steer this revolution in a radical direction.

  • Porcell

    Mike is right, While Obama can’t be criticized for controlling Egypt, his administration took too long to back off from Mubarak, and, since sort of favoring the democracy advocates, his administration statements have been at best ambiguous.

    Also, we have no clear evidence that Obama understands the threat of a radical Islamic takeover of Egypt through the Muslim Brotherhood. Iran and alQuaeda are salivating at this prospect and likely making serious efforts to steer this revolution in a radical direction.

  • SKPeterson

    Cincinnatus @4 – Well, yes. I suppose I should have said, what different sort of meddling have they done? But what would you expect – Obama’s foreign policy is a simple continuation of Bush II’s and Clinton’s and Bush I’s and Reagan’s and Carter’s. In the face of that continuity, I agree with the rest of your post – we should leave well enough alone and keep our mouths shut.

  • SKPeterson

    Cincinnatus @4 – Well, yes. I suppose I should have said, what different sort of meddling have they done? But what would you expect – Obama’s foreign policy is a simple continuation of Bush II’s and Clinton’s and Bush I’s and Reagan’s and Carter’s. In the face of that continuity, I agree with the rest of your post – we should leave well enough alone and keep our mouths shut.

  • Carl Vehse

    From Richard Fernandez’s Pajamasmedia column, Oops!“:

    “Although Saudi King Abdullah warned Barack Obama not to push Mubarak over the edge, according to reports by the Times of London, CIA director Leon Panetta believed the Egyptian president would step down. Just a few minutes ago, the New York Times reported that Mubarak refused to step down….

    “Whatever happens next is fraught with peril for Washington. If Mubarak survives, it will have been in spite of Obama, and the influence of Washington over its Sunni allies will have fallen to unplumbed depths as the old strongmen openly defy the former Strong Horse in Washington. If Mubarak is overthrown, the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran will have scored a signal triumph and threaten to set the dominoes to falling. Either way Washington’s diplomatic position in the region will be in a shambles.”

    Ish da!

  • Carl Vehse

    From Richard Fernandez’s Pajamasmedia column, Oops!“:

    “Although Saudi King Abdullah warned Barack Obama not to push Mubarak over the edge, according to reports by the Times of London, CIA director Leon Panetta believed the Egyptian president would step down. Just a few minutes ago, the New York Times reported that Mubarak refused to step down….

    “Whatever happens next is fraught with peril for Washington. If Mubarak survives, it will have been in spite of Obama, and the influence of Washington over its Sunni allies will have fallen to unplumbed depths as the old strongmen openly defy the former Strong Horse in Washington. If Mubarak is overthrown, the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran will have scored a signal triumph and threaten to set the dominoes to falling. Either way Washington’s diplomatic position in the region will be in a shambles.”

    Ish da!

  • SKPeterson

    I thought our diplomatic position in the region has been a shambles for decades.

    I wonder why everyone thinks the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran will be playing diplomatic footsie with each other. There’s still plenty of bad blood between Sunni and Shia and this episode is unlikely to stop the flow.

    i

  • SKPeterson

    I thought our diplomatic position in the region has been a shambles for decades.

    I wonder why everyone thinks the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran will be playing diplomatic footsie with each other. There’s still plenty of bad blood between Sunni and Shia and this episode is unlikely to stop the flow.

    i

  • Carl Vehse

    PowerLine’s Scott Johnson’s article, “Clanging Clapper Caper“, discusses recent Administration “intellegience” pronouncements about the turmoil in Egypt.

  • Carl Vehse

    PowerLine’s Scott Johnson’s article, “Clanging Clapper Caper“, discusses recent Administration “intellegience” pronouncements about the turmoil in Egypt.

  • Steve Billingsley

    It is a canard that Sunni and Shia will not work together. Iran has spent plenty of time and money working with Sunni terrorists in Iraq.

    Remember “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood would have no problem working together if they perceive that it is in their interest to do so.

  • Steve Billingsley

    It is a canard that Sunni and Shia will not work together. Iran has spent plenty of time and money working with Sunni terrorists in Iraq.

    Remember “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood would have no problem working together if they perceive that it is in their interest to do so.

  • Carl Vehse

    Today,after leaving Cairo Mubarak resigned and left the Armed Forces Supreme Council to run the state. How this will change (or not) with the elections later this year is anyone’s guess.

  • Carl Vehse

    Today,after leaving Cairo Mubarak resigned and left the Armed Forces Supreme Council to run the state. How this will change (or not) with the elections later this year is anyone’s guess.


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