As the protests in Egypt have raged on now for more than a week, President Obama and members of his administration continue to practice restraint in their communications and careful selection of the words that are spoken. Hillary Clinton has cautioned against anything that could increase chaos. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told television networks that the “complex, very difficult situation in Egypt requires careful progress toward a peaceful transition to democracy rather than any sudden or violent change that could undermine the aspirations of the protesters.”
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs echoed the sentiments that while Egypt needs to change, it’s not the place of the United States to publicly support or oppose the removal of Mubarak. Likewise, most Republicans are also on the same page as the Obama administration, speaking out in support of democratic reforms in Egypt, yet taking great care not to back or oppose Mubarak either way – at least not publicly. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, “I don’t have any criticism of President [Barack] Obama or Secretary [Hillary] Clinton at this point. It’s important for U.S. officials “to speak as one voice during this crisis.” As many have noted, Egypt is perhaps one of the only issues that’s rendered an overwhelmingly bi-partisan response.
But one man in particular is not exactly in agreement with that bi-partisan response: George Soros. And he’s warning us to toe the line – his line, that is.
The leftist billionaire who made his fortune on the back of US capitalism is taking aim at all the “rigid and ideological supporters of Israel” and “the religious right” for standing in the way of democracy for Egypt.
In an op-ed in today’s Washington Post, Soros warns Americans to get out of the way and toe the Soros line, or you’ll drag Obama and the country down with you and cause a lot of tears.
Revolutions usually start with enthusiasm and end in tears. In the case of the Middle East, the tears could be avoided if President Obama stands firmly by the values that got him elected.
While the slogans and crowds in Tahrir Square are not advancing a theocratic agenda at all, the best-organized political opposition that managed to survive in that country’s repressive environment is the Muslim Brotherhood. In free elections, the Brotherhood is bound to emerge as a major political force, though it is far from assured of a majority.
Some have articulated fears of adverse consequences of free elections, suggesting that the Egyptian military may seek to falsify the results; that Israel may be adamantly opposed to a regime change; that the domino effect of extremist politics spreading to other countries must be avoided; and that the supply of oil from the region could be disrupted. These notions constitute the old conventional wisdom about the Middle East – and need to be changed, lest Washington incorrectly put up resistance to or hesitate in supporting transition in Egypt.
As is typical for Soros, he possesses some sort of unrealistic fantasy that a magical Utopia will sprout up in the Middle East. That a coalition of leftist groups will lead Egypt in bringing “dignity and democracy” to the region. Groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and its newly found alliances with local “democracy activists, old-time liberals, Communists, workers’ rights activists” and former United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency diplomat, Mohamed ElBaradei.
You may recall ElBaradei for his accusations against Israel, while working with the IAEA, calling Israel the greatest nuclear threat to the Middle East. Given some of the conflict between him and the George W. Bush administration, officials at the time had become concerned over what they felt was ElBaradei’s bias toward Iran. ElBaradei was an outspoken critic against George W. Bush and against US foreign policy, including the Iraq war, and some say he had developed anti-Israel and anti-American sentiments. Others, like former United States Ambassador to Israel and Syria, Edward P. Djerejian, say that ElBaradei is a moderate, calling him a “centrist political personality.” In discussing the possibilities of a transitional or elected president to Egypt, ElBaradei told The Independent Tuesday,
All this will continue to be the same until you address the plight of the Palestinians, until you review your policy in the region. We have this strange relationship where you are calling this peace but you cannot even publish an Israeli book here, or vice-versa, for example. If you really want peace, yes, the peace can be made durable with democracy, but also you have your responsibility – which is to review a balanced relationship, particularly on the Palestinian issue, Iraq, Afghanistan, what have you, and then you will have an Arab world which will be friendly to the West.
One thing’s for certain – Soros is an ElBaradei fan, and embraces the prospect of an ElBaradei supported coalition, even if that means welcoming Hamas, apparently.
Soros goes on to criticize Israel and the US:
The main stumbling block is Israel. In reality, Israel has as much to gain from the spread of democracy in the Middle East as the United States has. But Israel is unlikely to recognize its own best interests because the change is too sudden and carries too many risks. And some U.S. supporters of Israel are more rigid and ideological than Israelis themselves. Fortunately, Obama is not beholden to the religious right, which has carried on a veritable vendetta against him. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is no longer monolithic or the sole representative of the Jewish community. The main danger is that the Obama administration will not adjust its policies quickly enough to the suddenly changed reality.
And if that’s not enough motivation for the Obama administration, Soros offers the promise that “his foundations are prepared to contribute what they can” to support the speedy turnover of Egypt to ElBaradei and his coalition.
As a committed advocate of democracy and open society, I cannot help but share in the enthusiasm that is sweeping across the Middle East. I hope President Obama will expeditiously support the people of Egypt. My foundations are prepared to contribute what they can. In practice, that means establishing resource centers for supporting the rule of law, constitutional reform, fighting corruption and strengthening democratic institutions in those countries that request help in establishing them, while staying out of those countries where such efforts are not welcome.
Supporting democracy for the people of Egypt is probably the most bi-partisan issue all American citizens can agree upon. Obviously no American supports the idea of a continued dictatorship for the people of Egypt. But HOW to support the Egyptian people in achieving their goal is what presents great challenges – challenges that require careful planning and time. Maintaining the stability and defense of our other ally Israel, as well as preparing our own country for the possibility that hostile influences could unintentionally (or intentionally) prevail in Egypt are not concerns that should be so smugly dismissed by Mr. Soros. For those of us who have had family from these regions in the Middle East, we know such extremist threats to be real.
And if by promising his own financial contributions and supporting resource centers are supposed to be of consolation to everyone, I would suggest that people take a good look at what Soros’ work has done for democracy here in the US. It’s brought us repressive tolerance – intolerance for Christian religion and intolerance for any viewpoints that aren’t leftist like Soros’. It’s brought us thought police and a movement to crush free speech for conservatives, which didn’t even stop short at accusing innocent people of murder. It’s brought us anti-conservative bigotry and lies. It also assumes that his institutions aren’t already involved in what’s happening there in Egypt.
Americans wish the Egyptian people the democracy and liberty they so very much deserve. Some of us simply speculate whether all the elite speaking for Egypt genuinely do have the region’s best interests at heart. Given the circumstances, pardon some of us for not bucking right up and toeing the Soros line.