The Hallmark Card school of diplomacy 1

Since Islam regards women as punch-bags, chattels, sex-slaves, at best worth only half as much as a man (as heirs to property or witnesses in a sharia court), it would not seem a sensible idea to send women ambassadors to Islamic countries. But when last did the State Department have a sensible idea?

April Glaspie was US ambassador to Saddam Hussein, and is charged or credited with giving the green light to that abominable tyrant to invade Kuwait in 1991, though whether she intended to or not remains unclear. Saddam probably didn’t give a fig what the woman said anyway.

Now there is a woman in Cairo, Anne Patterson, who represents the US to the Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt. How well is she doing?

This is from PowerLine, by Scott Johnson:

I’ve foolishly wondered why we’re giving Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood regime — you know, the one in which the President from the Brotherhood forced out the country’s top two military chiefs in order to consolidate his power over the armed forces — a slew of F-16s. If I’d only waited a few days, all would have become clear.

At a ceremony marking the delivery of the first four F-16s to Egypt on Sunday, US Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson explained:

“Today’s ceremony demonstrates the firm belief of the United States that a strong Egypt is in the interest of the U.S., the region, and the world. We look to Egypt to continue to serve as a force for peace, security, and leadership as the Middle East proceeds with its challenging yet essential journey toward democracy. … Our thirty-four year security partnership is based upon shared interests and mutual respect. The United States has long recognized Egypt as an indispensible [sic] partner.”

A pretty statement, typical of the Hallmark Card school of diplomacy, where charming dreamers, in select US embassies round the world, substitute their sentiments for reality .

Suitably rough comments by Daniel Pipes are quoted by Scott Johnson:

1) Is not anyone in the Department of State aware that Egypt is now run by an Islamist zealot from the bowels of the Muslim Brotherhood whose goals differ profoundly from those of Americans?

(2) Willfully ignorant, head-in-the-ground statements like this are the embarrassment and ruin of American foreign policy.

(3) What a launch for [new Secretary of State] Kerry, whose mental vapidity promises to make Hillary Clinton actually look good in retrospect.

This report by the (pro-Obama) Washington Post indicates just how much of “a force for peace and security” Egypt is and has been, and just how much its government deserves Americans’ respect:

A recent spate of police violence has highlighted what many Egyptians say is the unchanged nature of their country’s security forces two years after a popular uprising carried with it hopes for sweeping reform.

Long a pillar of Hosni Mubarak’s abusive regime, Egypt’s Interior Ministry, with its black-clad riot police, has increasingly become a sign of renewed repression under Islamist President Mohamed Morsi

A series of clashes between anti-Islamist protesters and police that began on the second anniversary of Egypt’s revolt has snowballed into a much broader tide of anger toward the police force. Opposition leaders and rights groups say police used excessive force over 10 days of clashes that left more than 60 people dead across the country.

Two recent incidents have fanned the flames of popular dissent. And rights groups and analysts warn that if police reform does not come soon, the force’s brutal tactics are likely to spur more clashes in a cycle that could prove deeply destabilizing

The death … of Mohammed al-Gindy, a member of the opposition Popular Current party, has driven some of that rage. Gindy’s colleagues said the 28-year-old was tortured to death in police custody after disappearing from a protest Jan. 27.

Sayed Shafiq, the head of investigations at the Interior Ministry, said that Gindy was hit by a car and that his body was found “far away from the area of the clashes,” citing hospital sources.

But Gindy’s ribs and skull had been smashed, and his back and tongue bore the burns of electrical shocks, a party spokesperson said Monday, citing Gindy’s autopsy report. His case follows three deaths by torture since Morsi came to power in June, according to a report on police abuse released last month by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), a Cairo-based watchdog group.

It was Ambassador Anne Patterson who issued this statement when the US embassy in Cairo was attacked on the anniversary of 9/11 last year:

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others

John Tabin at the American Spectator aptly called it “a shameful statement” and further commented:

A stand against those who “abuse” their right to free speech is best suited to authoritarianism, and it’s absolutely grotesque to see American diplomats embracing it. The effort at appeasement was as inefficacious as it was depraved: The protests against the film in question turned more violent after the statement was issued, when the embassy wall was scaled and the American flag was torn down and burned.

By late this evening this was obvious at the White House: “The statement by Embassy Cairo was not cleared by Washington and does not reflect the views of the United States government,” [said] a source characterized as a “senior administration official” …

That’s all well and good; the statement does indeed look like it wasn’t carefully vetted (the missing period after “others” … [is] how it is on the embassy website). But a not-for-attribution walk-back is hardly sufficient here. Somebody needs to be fired. Given that the embassy’s Twitter account spent the day defending the statement, it’s likely to be more than one somebody that needs to go, perhaps including Ambassador Anne Patterson herself.

It’s not enough to say, after the fact, that a diplomatic statement isn’t the position of the government; if the same diplomats remain on the job, the views that led them to make that statement will lead them to make similar statements in the future. This is a case where personnel is policy, and the clarification of White House policy cannot be taken seriously unless it’s accompanied by a change in personnel. 

Yes, a change of personnel above all in the White House itself.

Talking with unicorns 4

Obama says he wants to negotiate with ‘moderate factions of the Taliban’.  

Robert Spencer writes:

Who are these moderate Taliban? Where can they be found? Waheed Mozhdah, the director of the Afghan Foreign Ministry’s Middle East and Africa department when the Taliban were in power, dismisses the President’s hopes as “a dream more than reality,” asking derisively: “Where are the so-called moderate Taliban? Who are the moderate Taliban?” Newspaper editor Muhammad Qaseem Akhgar declared: “‘Moderate Taliban’ is like ‘moderate killer.’ Is there such a thing?” 

Obama offered no details as to why he believed in these fantastical creatures, but Vice President Joe Biden, ever helpful, chimed in with some statistics manifesting his confidence in their existence. “Five percent of the Taliban is incorrigible,” he explained, “not susceptible to anything other than being defeated. Another 25 percent or so are not quite sure, in my view, of the intensity of their commitment to the insurgency. Roughly 70 percent are involved because of the money.” He didn’t explain how he arrived at these figures, but one would think that if they were remotely accurate, we would see some evidence of dissension within Taliban ranks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, with moderate elements objecting to their colleagues’ more extreme behavior.

Last Friday, for example, Taliban commander Mohammed Ibrahim Hanafi told CNN that the Taliban considered foreign aid workers to be spies, and was planning to execute them. “Our law,” he declared, “is still the same old law which was in place during our rule in Afghanistan. Mullah Mohammad Omar was our leader and he is still our head and leader and so we will follow the same law as before.” That law includes prohibiting the education of girls, destroying girls’ schools all over the country, and even throwing acid in the faces of girls who dare to try to get an education. The Taliban in the Swat Valley in northwest Pakistan has bombed or burned down around 300 girls’ schools, affecting over 100,000 students. And in Afghanistan over 600 schools have not opened this year because they could not guarantee their students’ security. 

There is no record of any moderate Taliban elements speaking out against either the execution of foreign aid workers or the closing of girls’ schools and the terrorizing of female students.

The Taliban have also targeted police stations – because they are considered outposts of the central government in Kabul – as well as video and CD stores, since Islamic law forbids music and images of human beings. Pakistan’s News International reported last month that “two police stations, 12 police posts, 80 video centres, around 300 CD shops, 25 barbershops, 24 bridges, 15 basic health units, an electricity grid station and a main gas supply line were either destroyed or severely damaged” by the Taliban as it has moved in recent months to gain control of Swat – which was once a thriving tourist spot.

There is no record of any moderate Taliban elements speaking out against any of this, or lifting a finger to stop it. One would think that if these reasonable elements who can be negotiated with really constituted over two thirds of those who identify themselves as Taliban, as Biden claimed, there would be some trace of their existence somewhere – even a minute indication that they dissented from the harsh vision of draconian Sharia law that the Taliban imposed upon Afghanistan when it was in power in Kabul, and which it continues to impose upon those areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan that it currently controls.

Next week, expect Obama to announce that he plans to start talks with Santa Claus and unicorns.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Friday, March 20, 2009

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