Both the left and right have been struggling to deal with the philosophical consequences of Hosni Mubarak’s fall from power in Egypt. Much of the right’s discussion has focused on the role the Muslim Brotherhood is playing in the day-to-day events of the Middle East.
Two months ago, most Americans had never heard of the Muslim Brotherhood. Today, due to extensive news coverage of the events in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood probably has better name recognition than most Republican hopefuls who are looking to challenge President Obama in 2012.
So much is being said about the Muslim Brotherhood, in fact, that pundits on the right are ignoring a philosophical quandary that those on the left may not be able to reconcile.
Before pointing out the left’s Catch-22, I should note that I have no disagreement with the basic premise that Hosni Mubarak was an evil leader. I’ve previously written in The Daily Caller that one of the institutional flaws of American foreign policy is that when American leaders deal with the devil they know, they’re still dealing with the devil.
Every president in my lifetime, Republican and Democrat, has looked the other way when leaders who are friendly to America abuse their own people. Deference to leaders who violate basic human rights is a defect of US foreign policy that needs to change.
But, the fact that American liberals are absolutely giddy over the fall of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak leaves them with a complicated moral dilemma. That is, the left relates a standard to Hosni Mubarak in Egypt that it refuses to apply to the Castro boys in Cuba.
Let my people tweet
When the uprising in Cairo was in its early stages, Mubarak ordered the shutdown of the major vehicles of international communications being used by the rebels. The Internet was blacked out. Cell phone towers were immobilized. Social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, became impossible to use.
America took a firm stand. “Government must respect the rights of the Egyptian people and turn on social networking and [the] Internet,” Obama said.
And the president was right to call for such action. Open and free communication amongst people is a key to them achieving self-determination. In this day and age, worldwide direct contact can be instantaneous. And, as we’ve seen in Egypt, the tools of friendly interaction can become ploughshares of liberty.
When it comes to communications, Egypt is far freer than Cuba.
In Cuba, cell phones and the Internet are rarely available to common people. American Alan Gross has been charged with crimes against the government for trying to connect Cuban Jews via the Internet.
Last week, one woman was arrested and another beaten by Castro’s goons at Our Lady of Regla Catholic Church in Havana for offering prayers in support of political prisoners. It’s hard to think in terms of “tweets” when women are being beaten and arrested for praying.
The anti-Castro dissidents of Cuba used to rely on the United States Interest Section in Havana to communicate with the outside world. Today, the Obama administration’s policy is to shun anti-Castro Cubans and discourage use of our Interest Section.
In response to the oppression in Cuba, the Obama administration eased restrictions on travel and money transfers to the island.
The cheering that the left has given to the Obama administration for the president’s stance in support of liberty in Egypt has fallen deafly on the ears of oppressed Cubans.
The Obama Doctrine
Thus, the Obama Doctrine has a two-pronged approach to dealing with despots. The dividing line is seemingly based on whether the oppressive leader in question has a pro- or anti-Western bias.
The first prong of the Obama Doctrine, utilized against the pro-US government in Egypt, is to support people in their self-declaration of freedom. I agree with this portion of the Obama Doctrine.
The second prong of the Obama Doctrine, which offers friendship to leaders who hate us, is what stirs my ire. Courting an anti-Western despot like Castro by sending flowers, chocolates and plane loads of cigar-smoking tourists will not help the people of Cuba in their quest for freedom. Cuba is an island where hope for change is not enough.
The left trumpets President Obama’s hard-line tactics in support of human rights in Egypt. Yet they look silently at their shoe laces when asked why those same hard-line tactics are not employed by this administration in its dealings with Cuba (and other left-leaning anti-US leaders).
Evil is evil and must be dealt with in a consistent manner.
A short note on Alan Gross
It has been reported in the press that, after being held illegally for over a year, American Alan Gross has finally been charged with a crime. Cuban authorities are seeking a 20-year prison sentence against him. Speculation on the motives behind the indictment runs the political gambit.
One side believes that the indictment of Alan Gross is a straight quid-pro-quo with the Obama administration, done in return for the easing of sanctions. If this is true, expect Gross to plead guilty and then, somewhere in the near future, be released and sent home to America on humanitarian grounds.
People on the other side of the debate argue that Castro has returned Obama’s act of charity with a diplomatic slap in the face. If this side is correct, Cuba will continue to hold Alan Gross until the Cuban Five are released from American jail.
Rick Robinson is the author of political thrillers which can be purchased on Amazon and at book stores everywhere. His latest novel, Manifest Destiny has won seven writing awards, including Best Fiction at the Paris Book Festival.