Dead-Enders on the Potomac
From the Editors
January 29, 2011
Every US administration has its mouthpiece in Washington’s think tank world, its courtier that will slavishly praise its every utterance. For the blessedly bygone Bush administration, that echo chamber was the American Enterprise Institute and the neo-conservative broadsheets in its orbit. For the Obama administration, it is the National Security Network, an operation founded in 2006 to bring “strategic focus to the progressive national security community.”
With one US-backed Arab despot dislodged and dodging Interpol, and another facing an intifada of historic proportions, many eyes looked to Washington, hopeful that President Barack Obama might reprise his ballyhooed Cairo speech of June 2009, showing the restive Arab masses that he felt and, perhaps, really understood their pain. Instead, Arab populations have heard a variation on Washington’s long-standing theme: “The Obama administration seeks to encourage political reforms without destabilizing the region.” That sentence, taken from the National Security Network’s January 27 press release, says it all: Democracy is great in theory, but if it will cause any disruption to business as usual, Washington prefers dictatorship.
And so it was no surprise, though a deep and indelible blot upon Obama and his “progressive” entourage, when the president took a White House lectern on the evening of January 28 — Egypt’s “Friday of Rage” — and announced his continued backing for the indefensible regime of President Husni Mubarak. In so doing, he ensured that the Arab fury of the winter of 2011 would be directed increasingly toward the United States as well as its regional vassals.
Weighing the “limited options,” January 28, 2011. Clockwise from Obama: National Security Adviser Tom Donilon; White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley; Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communication Ben Rhodes; Tony Blinken, National Security Adviser to the Vice President; Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough; John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism; Robert Cardillo, Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Intelligence Integration; and Vice President Joe Biden. (White House/Pete Souza)