Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What hath ‘Cairo’ wrought?

(NYP) Is this the democratic Muslim world President Obama called for in his much-publicized Cairo address three years ago?

Chaos there and a US impotent to do much of anything about it?

With the election this past weekend of Mohammed Morsi as president, Cairo became capital to an Egypt under the banner of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood.

Obama’s 2009 speech, recall, was a mishmash of moral equivalence — apologizing for US intervention in the Middle East; comparing the CIA’s alleged role in the 1953 Iranian coup to the 1979 Iranian Revolution’s hostage-taking and subsequent state-sponsorship of terror.

Most reasonable people were at least skeptical as Obama stretched out a hand to the Muslim world, urging it to reject extremism and move closer to Washington.

Such skepticism has proved warranted.

Egypt’s Arab Spring democracy movement, for better or for worse, led to longtime US ally Hosni Mubarak being nudged aside — and the rise of the Brotherhood.

In Libya, the US “lead from behind” strategy to push out Moammar Khadafy accomplished that goal — but a dangerous leadership vacuum persists and the future is dark.

And in Syria, a full-blown civil war rages.

In a nutshell, the US has far less influence in Egypt today than at any point during the last four decades — a fact of serious consequence strategically and economically.

Morsi says Egypt will remain steadfast to its international commitments — including the Camp David accords with Israel.

Time will tell; the military — which retains strong strategic relationships with the United States — has a say in that.

But as a popularly elected leader, Morsi could be a focus for continued unrest and protest against military rule.

The White House calls Morsi’s election a milestone in Egypt’s road to democracy.

What else can it say?

But, in truth, Obama has demonstrated that while he had nice words three years ago, he has no clue — no vision — as to what Egypt or the rest of the Middle East should look like years from now.

In 1979, the United States stood helplessly on the sidelines as once-ally Iran slipped into Islamist hands.

Is there cause for optimism today?