Potential vs. Actual

I haven’t commented on Mike Pompeo’s speech in Cairo last week, which provided an ironic contrast with President Obama’s speech in Cairo a decade earlier. I may consider it in detail later but I want to focus on one statement. From the transcript provided by Haaretz:

I’ll be very blunt and direct today: America is a force for good in the Middle East.

I’m skeptical. Considering only our actions rather than our intentions has America been a “force for good in the Middle East”? Please show your work.

Consider just Libya and Iraq. Since we connived at the Qaddaffi’s overthrow, there has been a return to open air slave markets in Libya. Is that what happens when America is a force for good? Is the decimation of the Yezidis in Iraq by DAESH (that also included slavery) an artifact of America’s leaving Iraq or a consequence of our ouster of Saddam Hussein? I think the latter. The moral is that there are worse things than dictators and we unleashed those things by removing dictators. Good intentions are not enough.

8 comments… add one
  • Gray Shambler

    “there are worse things than dictators”
    Yes indeed, one is anarchy, and worse is fanatical ideology.
    The government we have here is a work in progress and not ready for export.

  • Guarneri

    Pompeo was obviously contrasting current administration policy from prior administrations, in particular Obama’s.

    I must have missed Trump’s ouster of Sadaam and Qaddaffi. And who is getting the criticism for the desire to exit Syria?

  • steve

    “The moral is that there are worse things than dictators ”

    Depends upon the dictator, and your reason for removing them. Sometimes it is worth the risk, especially when they are attacking other countries.

    On the intentions aspect, I think part of the problem is that our intentions have not been clear beyond regime change. Our planning has been worse. I think it has mostly gone something like the following.

    1-Remove regime or dictator X
    2- ?????????????????
    3- Sweden!

  • TastyBits

    President Trump is fighting the Washington elites, and some of those people are in his Cabinet. He takes one step forward, and the push him back most of the way.

    As to the neocons and liberal interventionists never admitting they are sorry, they are like conspiracy theorists. The less likely the conspiracy proves how well devised the conspiracy is. For neocons and liberal interventionists, worse results are more proof that the invasion/intervention was needed.

  • Gray Shambler

    Sweden!
    Regime change is easy, culture change is hard. Even more so if Christianity is removed from the toolbox.

  • Andy

    It didn’t sound to me like Pompeo was contrasting Trump’s ME policy with what came before. And really, what is Trump’s ME policy except for unconditional support for Israel and, to a lesser extent, Saudi Arabia?

    I think our biggest mistake was assuming there’s a secular liberal hiding inside every person and all we need to do to bring that out is topple nasty regimes.

  • I think our biggest mistake was assuming there’s a secular liberal hiding inside every person and all we need to do to bring that out is topple nasty regimes.

    I think it’s a bit worse than that. Many Americans, even sophisticated Americans who should know better, have a Disney-esque view of other countries—they just differ in languages, national cuisines, and costumes but otherwise they believe in the same things. It’s a small world, after all (I was once trapped on that ride at Disneyland for well over an hour, an experience I will never forget).

    But people really have different opinions. There are very, very few universal values. Take the present brouhaha over the runaway Saudi girl. I have little doubt that the Saudis view that a lot differently than we or the Canadians do. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if they view it as an assault on their religion and their most basic beliefs. What we think of as heroism, they think of as villainy.

  • Gray Shambler

    Trump’s not too interested in the ME. Nor should he be, he’s offloaded that to Jared Kushner, who’s doing a bang up job of mucking it up.

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