I couldn't agree more with this opinion piece by Ian Buruma, a professor of Democracy and Human Rights at Bard College. The ever calm and thoughtful Obama is doing the right thing in the face of kneejerk panic from those such as John McCain, who seems to have innate desire to bomb things. People of the region need to get it done for themselves with a little help from their friends, not from U.S. domination.
Barack Obama, the US president, has been much criticised for the way he has handled revolutionary changes in North Africa and the Middle East. Actually, he has not handled them very much, at least not in public.
That is precisely the problem for armchair warriors watching events unfold on their computer and television screens in Washington and New York. They want Obama to handle things more.
Instead of taking a cautious approach, and letting the demonstrators in Iran, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, and other places do the shouting, they want him to talk tough, or, better yet, to send in the US Air Force and blast Gaddafi’s jet fighters and helicopter gunships out of the sky.
They want Obama to tell those dictators to quit right now, or else ....
Or else what, exactly? To be sure, the US government has coddled too many brutal dictators over the last half-century. During the Cold War, dictators benefited from American largess as long as they were anti-Communist ("our bastards"). Middle Eastern dictators were showered with money and arms if they refrained from attacking Israel and kept the Islamists down.
In both cases, these cozy relationships were maintained for far too long. In Arab countries, they only helped to inflame Islamic extremism.
But American hawks want what most opposition leaders in Libya have expressly rejected. They want the US to show leadership, which is the last thing aspiring democrats need right now.
People in the Middle East and North Africa have been led by the West, or by Western-backed dictators, for long enough. They must find their own way to freedom. Obama seems to understand this. Which is why he has done all right.
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