Think back a couple weeks and recall the political narratives accompanying Obama’s pick for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, the journalist and Harvard scholar at the forefront of the debate over humanitarian interventions for the past decade. Foreign Policy’s John Hudson described Power’s “staunch advocacy of U.S. intervention on moral grounds.” Max Boot said she is a “principled advocate of humanitarian intervention.”
When President Obama visited Cairo on June 4, 2009, he made a special point of declaring that he had come to establish a new beginning between the United States and the Arab world. This beginning, he said, would be based “upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive…they overlap, and share common principles—principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.” Now, in Egypt, an authoritarian government, headed by the military, is slaughtering followers of Islam, and what does Obama have to say?
Not much, it appears. What is emerging from the president and his advisers is a few worried murmurs of protest, coupled with studied indecision. Where are the human-rights activists such as UN ambassador Samantha Power? Where is national-security adviser Susan Rice who vowed to stick up for the oppressed after she remained silent during the genocide in Rwanda? Do they agree with Secretary of State John Kerry’s earlier assessment that the military is “restoring democracy” in Egypt?
Examples of the dishonest selectivity of “humanitarian” interventionists are easy to render. Slaughter of innocents only calls for U.S. intervention as a moral imperative if the one doing the slaughtering isn’t one of our allies. That’s a standard in U.S. propaganda as tried and true as the red, white, and blue.
Obama got on the horn earlier today to condemn the violence of the Egyptian military. He announced that the U.S. would call off an upcoming joint U.S.-Egypt military drill, a symbolic gesture considering he did not announce what many were expecting, that the $1.3 billion in U.S. aid would be cut off, in accordance with U.S. law.
Obama insisted, “We deplore violence against civilians.” And he’s really doing something about it, by continuing to support it.