Monday, February 07, 2011

Egypt in Crisis: What Would Reagan Do? Obama's Lost Moment

Romesh Retnasar of Time Magazine asks a timely question, "What Would Reagan Do?"

Retnasar makes no bones about it. Reagan had some very specific ideas about Universal Freedom being the antidote for what ails most oppressive nations. He also reminds us that Reagan would publicly state those ideas, repeatedly, without compromise while he may have made contingency plans and sent messages to other, less freedom minded allies, on the down low, through diplomatic, non-public channels.

It sounds hypocritical, but it was about the ultimate defeat of the largest, most dangerous enemy the United States had ever confronted: the USSR and the spread of Communism.

It did not stop Reagan from being un-apologetically pro-freedom, pro-democracy, American. He would have stepped up to the podium and said that freedom is every human's God given right. He would not have left that message to his Secretary of State. His Secretary of State would have been the one going around, re-assuring allies, making conciliatory statements, pushing the Egyptian government, in private, to do what it needs to do to maintain order, but reform immediately. Then he would have been sure that the surrounding allies got a little extra assistance in material support to keep them stable during the ongoing earthquake.

Retnasar reminded that, when Reagan was preparing to go to the Brandenburg Gate and give his now famous speech, many, if not most, of his advisers suggested that he tone down his rhetoric. It was too inflammatory. The region could become destabilized. A nation, such as Unified Germany, would still be chock full of Communists who would not consider the US an ally. In short, the United States could not be sure that any other outcome was better than the status quo.

That is Obama's problem today. There is more concern about maintaining the status quo than shaping the outcome of a turbulent moment in favor of the one thing that the United States shares with all people: the unalienable right to be free.

So, what's it going to be, President Obama? Are you going to re-affirm the United States' role as the leader of free nations, holding a hand out to people who only want to be free and remind us all we should "reach for the stars"? Or, are we going to be mired in this swamp of draining, dragging status quo?

Right now, in places all over the world, people are watching. People in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar, Venezuela and places around the globe where people are not free. Where people are bitterly and brutally oppressed. People who would give their last breath to walk one second under a free sky, to speak their mind freely, to live one moment as we do.

They are waiting for a sign from this nation, the leader of the free world. A sign that says that freedom is more than just a word. That freedom is worth the struggle. Freedom is worth the sacrifice. Freedom is even worth dying for. It may not come today or tomorrow or in this generation for those people who live in an oppressive state and long for freedom, but it will come. If they keep the faith, if they hold on to the dream that is freedom.

Whenever a free people falls under the sway of an oppressor, the foundations of liberty are shaken, but, where ever a free people rise, those foundations are strengthened and the security, prosperity and strength of all the free nations rise with them.

We, the United States, stand with them and will always hold up the torch to light the way to freedom. It is our heritage, our honor and our privilege.

The presidential pulpit should stop issuing "nuanced" statements and start showing some real leadership of a nation that has been the forebear of freedom and democracy for over two hundred years and the leader of the free world for over a century.

It might be too late for Obama to give that kind of support to freedom and democracy in Egypt, but it could still make a difference to someone else.

Someone in Iran, maybe

Let Ms. Rodham Clinton go around handing out handkerchief's and glad-handing shaky allies while delivering the message of the United States' intent. Remind them that they are our allies, but, they must understand that we must remain constant to our ideas and our history. Freedom. Don't forget it.

Now, let's discuss our latest military and economic aide package.

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