The Egypt crisis; or, the Community Activist and foreign policy

I was going to open this post with a snarky line about whether anybody with even marginal intelligence expected a 40-something community activist to have the necessary chops to deal with an international crisis of the type currently unfolding in Egypt. Indeed, I think I still will: Does anybody with an IQ over the single digits seriously believe that a former community activist and part-time legal lecturer has the skills and knowledge to handle the revolutionary disarray unfolding on Egypt’s streets right now? No. I didn’t think so.

Snark out of the way, I want to talk about something more profound than mere inexperience — and that’s Obama’s instinctive distrust of individual freedom. His two years in office have shown us that, given the choice, Obama will invariably bow to whatever, or whomever, controls the government faction in a given country.

My sister suggested that this is because dictators tend to mean “peace,” albeit the peace of the grave. Peace, no matter how ugly, means stability. She’s got a point. After all, the Soviet Union kept an iron grip on ethnic and tribal rivalries within its territory, all of which exploded once its grip loosened.

I think there’s something deeper going on here, though. Barack Obama has demonstrated repeatedly that, for him, government is the only answer. The bigger the government, the more admirable and answerable it must be. And what could be bigger than a totalitarian dictatorship kind of government?

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Obama has repeatedly demonstrated his (false) belief that, if he can just make nice to that government, and steer it to use its power for his Nanny-state version of good, rather than the government’s theocratic or Communist version of evil, all will be well. It doesn’t seem to occur to him that a government that has ascended to the heights of totalitarian power, whether it’s the Norks, or Ahmadinejad, or Mubarek, or Chavez, is inherently evil.

Given that belief, it’s no wonder that Obama’s response to a revolutionary uprising by people under the thumb of a Big Government is to try to quell the uprising, and give his moral support to the Big Government. Individual liberty baffles him. Big Government — he thinks — is workable, if he can just turn on the Messiah charm. Given his druthers, I suspect, he’d much rather deal with the Muslim Brotherhood (stable sharia big government), than the potential ugliness and fractiousness of a nation trying to feel its way towards individual freedom.

One of the things I remember reading in a Natan Sharansky book was the importance he attached to Ronald Reagan’s “Evil Empire” speech. What Sharansky said is that, when you live under totalitarianism, you are constantly being “gaslighted.”

For those of you too young to know what that phrase means, let me explain. One of the great noire movies is Gaslight. Ingrid Bergman plays a Victorian wife whose ostensibly benign husband is, in fact, trying to convince her that she’s insane. He does that by constantly manipulating the reality around her — hiding things, denying events, etc. — so that she no longer trusts her own senses.

To “gaslight” someone, therefore, means to use lies and manipulation to convince him that his sense of reality is flawed and, quite possibly, that he is insane. The psychiatric gulags in the former Soviet Union are a testament to how far the gaslighter will go to control his victim.

In the former Soviet Union, the citizens were constantly told that things were wonderful, that they were free, that housing and food were bountiful, and that their lives reflected the high quality one could expect in a true socialist nation. This information wasn’t simply backed up by brutality, a force that tends to be a reality check. Instead, it was the rah-rah propaganda backdrop of their lives: school, movies, television, meetings, marches, etc. — all told them that the experience of their own five senses was a lie, contrary to the “true” Soviet reality.

Into this madhouse, came Ronald Reagan. Reagan didn’t use polite language, he was uninterested in relativism, and didn’t pander. Instead, he said “Evil Empire” — and millions of people under Communism’s boot said to themselves “Yes! I’m NOT crazy.” Knowing you’re not crazy feeds the soul. You are energized and revitalized. You can and will fight another day.

Obama refuses to speak of freedom. He refuses to tell people they’re not crazy. Instead, he leaves them in the funny house of Islamic dictatorships, struggling to mesh the knowledge their brain receives from its five senses with the nonsense touted in mosques, on televisions, in movies, etc.

Obama need not speak out against Mubarek, who has been something of an ally, and who certainly is no friend of the Muslim Brotherhood. However, it would behoove him to speak in Democratic terms, no just about some gauzy “peace,” but about individual liberty. He should encourage the government and the people to work together toward that goal. Doing so will give Mubarek some wiggle room — that is, he can enact some face-saving policies — and it will enable the people on the streets to coalesce around a positive idea, as opposed to thrumming to raw rage.

Our elected community organizer, however, continues to trust that he can just organize those nasty little dictatorships into loving Big Governments. He still dreams of the socialist paradise that no longer needs gaslighting to control its citizen’s lives.

Obama is the cause of these uprisings, because his weakness has created the cracks and fissures through which revolution explodes. And Obama will be the cause of a significant decrease in world freedom, because that same weakness, coupled with his totalitarian inclinations, will ensure that the people or movement most committed to the restriction of individual liberty will invariably triumph.

Cross-posted at Bookworm Room

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