Today the President made public remarks about the current situation in Egypt. On the face of the remarks, they were measured, reasonable and should be supported by all sides of the political spectrum.
They amount to a "stiffly worded letter", in that the only sanction announced was the cancellation of the annual joint military exercise with the Egyptian military, but steered clear of any suggestion that the $1.3 billion in aid was to be threatened. Maybe he was saving that for later, depending on how the situation plays out.
On the basis that Foreign Policy is, at best, a tricky area to negotiate, it makes good sense to tread carefully. Encourage and cajole rather than threaten and bluster. I can support that.
What I find rather more difficult to comprehend was the part where he savaged the interim government in Egypt, for the violent acts against civilians.
You have to jump the orange squiggle to find out why.
In the interests of full disclosure, I will say here and now that I was a supporter of the election and re-election of Barack Obama. I thought then, and I think now that we elected the best choice at the time, and we elected the nomination of the Democratic Party. Given the choices, we elected a good man.
If it were possible, and if the Party nominated Barack Obama for a third term, I would urge people to vote for him again, unless, of course, you really would prefer Rand Paul as President :: shudder ::
However, I am a socialist and Barack Obama clearly is not, so there are many policy areas where we would disagree, and I think a mature political blog should be able to take those disagreements in its stride. Political difference and debate, including listening to varying views, is the very thing that is the life-blood of a mature society, and not some kind of indication that the protagonists are in any way the lesser.
On this occasion the President was not speaking for the Democratic Party, or himself, he was speaking as the President of the United States of America. A leader in global politics. The most powerful economy and military, the de-facto leader of that which some like to call "The Free World"
So it might just be considered appropriate if such a leader spoke with a strong voice, and a stronger moral authority to do so when he says things like this:
The United States strongly condemns the steps that have been taken by Egypt's interim government and security forces. We deplore violence against civilians. We support universal rights essential to human dignity, including the right to peaceful protest.Full transcript here
As I said earlier, on the face of it the remarks are entirely appropriate. Presumably then, when abuses happen by the US Military, they are seen as heinous crimes and treated accordingly. Let's take a brief look at a few:
A U.S. soldier pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of accessory to murder and was sentenced to eight months in prison for his role in the killing of four Iraqi prisoners who were bound, blindfolded, shot and dumped in a canal.and here:
Spc. Steven Ribordy, 25, of Salina, Kansas, also will receive a bad conduct discharge from the Army as part of a plea deal. He also agreed to testify against other members of his unit.
Seven of the eight servicemen who kidnapped and killed an Iraqi man in Hamdaniya last year are now out of prison after Camp Pendleton's senior general gave clemency to Pvt. Robert Pennington yesterday ...These men hatched a pre-meditated plot to kidnap and murder an Iraqi man. Only one of the plotters is still in prison, and he received only 15 years for this crime. He will be out soon.
... Over the past month, the squad's three senior members – Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins III and Cpls. Marshall Magincalda and Trent Thomas – faced military juries of Iraq War veterans. Only Hutchins, the squad leader who derived the plot, was convicted of murder. He was sentenced to 15 years. The other two Marines were convicted of lesser charges and sentenced to time already served.
Clearly the US Military views crimes by the military, against civilians (even ones who they suspect of wrongdoing), a little less seriously than the President appears to.
The crimes are legion, and the punishments trivial, at best, which leaves me wondering quite where the United States stands on matters such as this. These cases, and others can be found on Google, and some are summarized in this Diary by Michael Moore.
If you are not entirely convinced by the many cases you can read describing the violence of the US Military, outwith the task they are pursuing, then maybe we set the example by allowing protests at home unencumbered by violent authoritarian responses.
UC Davis Police Officer, John Pike, was fired for a completely unprovoked attack on seated students, with pepper spray.
Online videos of him and another officer casually dousing demonstrators with pepper spray went viral, sparking outrage at UC Davis leaders. The images became a rallying symbol for the Occupy Wall Street movement.Neither Mr Pike, nor any other officers present, were charged with any criminal offense. Mr Pike is seeking Worker's Comp. claiming "psychiatric injury" following his abuse of students.
I could now proceed to pick numerous examples of similar ... From any Occupy Wall Street event, right on up to Grannies arrested for singing in FitzWalkerStan ... but it gets tedious because there are so damned many ... it's depressing. Hey, could I get workers comp?
Capitol police have issued 223 citations or recommended charges in the last two weeks against participants in the noontime Solidarity Singalong. For over two years, these protesters have been gathering in the Capitol rotunda to protest the policies of Gov Scott Walker and his Republican administration.I am not necessarily criticizing President Obama for making the remarks. They were pertinent and correct. It's hard to see how he could have said much different with respect to the violence.
However, and this has to be said because I will not stand by while even those I have supported go down this road .... America is losing the authority. Day by day, protest by protest, military trial, by military trial. We are showing ourselves, at least in these instances, as being hypocritical at best, and probably disingenuous too.
We cannot allow violence against protestors on our own streets, if we recognise it as bad, and condemn it in other countries. We cannot complain loudly about the Egyptian military attacking protestors, when in the event we catch our own soldiers murdering people, we slap them on the wrist.
Oh yeah ... The $1.3 Billion is, I believe, largely spent buying equipment from American suppliers. I'm now in danger of becoming cynical.