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A Response to Nicholas Kristof

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RUSH: Nicholas D. Kristof of the New York Times a couple days ago: "What Egypt Can Teach America." What's your reaction to that headline? "What Egypt Can Teach America." Well, the point here is that how can the New York Times even write that when the whole thrust of Egypt is for Egypt to learn from Obama. What am I missing here? They're trying to construct this whole thing that Obama was behind this. Obama took control of the mob. Obama told the mob they're gonna get what they want. Obama told the mob to stick in there. Obama told Mubarak to go. So much so, they're out there in the press asking the crowd, "What do you think of Obama?" It was almost Obama's revolution. And yet here in the New York Times: "What Egypt Can Teach America."

Here's the thrust of his piece, though. "It's a new day in the Arab world -- and, let's hope, in American relations to the Arab world. The truth is that the United States has been behind the curve not only in Tunisia and Egypt for the last few weeks, but in the entire Middle East for decades. We supported corrupt autocrats as long as they kept oil flowing and weren't too aggressive toward Israel. Even in the last month, we sometimes seemed as out of touch with the region's youth as a Ben Ali or a Mubarak. Recognizing that crafting foreign policy is 1,000 times harder than it looks, let me suggest four lessons to draw from our mistakes: 1.) Stop treating Islamic fundamentalism as a bogyman and allowing it to drive American foreign policy. American paranoia about Islamism has done as much damage as Muslim fundamentalism itself."

Mr. Kristof, could you point to me where American paranoia has caused 3,000 people to die in two buildings, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania? Paranoia? I don't know. I listen to these people. I listen to the leaders. I listen to these people and they make it clear that we're infidels to them. Where is the paranoia here? Did anybody say that Hitler was paranoid? Besides Neville Chamberlain. Did anybody say that Churchill was paranoid? They probably did. Hell, I don't know. But I mean this is ridiculous. You know what? I, frankly, think, folks, that many of us are not serious enough about this threat.

"We tie ourselves in knots when we act as if democracy is good for the United States and Israel but not for the Arab world. For far too long, we've treated the Arab world as just an oil field." Well, I know it's insulting. That's the whole point. It starts with a headline. "What Egypt Can Teach America." "For too long we've treated the Arab world as just an oil field." Well, he means the United States when he says "we." "Too many Americans bought into a lazy stereotype that Arab countries were inhospitable for democracy."

You know, all I remember is that when George Bush talked about democratizing the region guys like Kristof made fun of him. When George Bush talked about democratizing Afghanistan and Iraq, I mean the whole left came out with catcalls, talked about how silly it was. When we talked about democratizing Russia, many on the left said those people don't want freedom, they don't know what it's like, they have no way to make freedom work, they've never been free. Yeah, they did say Churchill was paranoid until Hitler invaded Poland. We had a whole second term of George Bush that was oriented toward bringing democracy to the Middle East. And, in fact, if these people were consistent, if this was a democratic uprising in Egypt you'd almost have to give Bush credit for it. Domino effect. Okay, create it in Iraq, Egyptians saw in Tunisia and Iraq what they wanted for themselves, more convoluted.

"Tunisians and Egyptians have shattered that stereotype, and the biggest loser will be Al Qaeda." They've shattered the stereotype that they're not capable of democracy. Again, I only remember the vaunted American left and our news media making fun of the whole concept of democracy in the Middle East, and freedom. "Number two: We need better intelligence, the kind that is derived not from intercepting a president's phone calls to his mistress but from hanging out with the powerless." What in the world. Still defending Clinton? We need better intelligence, the kind that is derived not from intercepting a president's phone calls to his mistress, but from hanging out with the powerless. You mean like we need CIA spies on the ground? We just had Leon Panetta say he knew that Egyptian leader Mubarak was gonna leave because he saw it on CNN. What better intel could you get? The Muslim Brotherhood is secular. "We need better intelligence, the kind that's derived not from intercepting a president's phone calls to his mistress." What am I missing? What is that? Is that Clinton and Lewinsky? What is that? Or Mubarak? Khadafy? Mubarak talking to his mistress?

"Number three: New technologies have lubricated the mechanisms of revolt. Facebook and Twitter make it easier for dissidents to network. Mobile phones mean that government brutality is more likely to end up on YouTube, raising the costs of repression." What is this entitled? What Egypt Can Teach Us? Oh, you mean like the Tea Party. Oh, I get it. Mr. Kristof is suggesting we need to learn from things that the Tea Party did. They used Facebook and Twitter. They network. They use their social networking sites to create their supporters and get messages out about when rallies were to be held and what time town meetings were going to happen, but instead Kristof tells us we gotta learn from Egyptians how to do that, not the Tea Party.

"Number four: Let's live our values. We pursued a Middle East realpolitik that failed us. Condi Rice had it right when she said in Egypt in 2005: 'For 60 years, my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region, here in the Middle East, and we achieved neither.'" Wait a second. Fine, Mr. Kristof, but you just got through complaining here about people who think that the Middle East could be democratized. Not in the piece, but during Iraq. What is this democracy? Everybody was mocking it. Condi Rice was mocked when she said this. Now, all of a sudden, she's a wizard? "After a long wishy-washy stage, President Obama got it pitch-perfect on Friday when he spoke after the fall of Mr. Mubarak. He forthrightly backed people power, while making clear that the future is for Egyptians to decide. Let's hope that reflects a new start not only for Egypt but also for American policy toward the Arab world." Okay. I guess the sum total is it's our fault, whatever happens, our fault, and we need to learn from it. We need to learn what we were doing wrong and what the Egyptians are doing right.

Nicholas Kristof famously attacked and made fun of Bush's moral clarity about invading Iraq. Kristof claimed that the US missed a grand bargain with Iran when we coulda made a deal with them about their nuclear programs, and we coulda created calm in the region, we didn't have the foresight to do that. Now I know why these guys love Obama. He runs around apologizing for us all over the world and these guys at the New York Times and other places in the media like it 'cause we're the ones making all the mistakes. We're the ones that have things to learn from all these authoritarian dictatorships. Right.

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