Sunday, January 29, 2012

Jimmy Carter's second term

Jimmy Carter oversaw an ally or US in the middle East, Iran, become an Islamist dictatorship. To patch things up he sent a delegation of 52 US diplomats, who were held hostage for 444 days - until the end of Jimmy's term. (They were released on the first day of the Reagan administration).

Barack Hussein Obama has been said to be serving Jimmy Carter's second term.

Initially it was folks like the  Tea Party making such comparison, then Fox News picked up on in. Lately this comparison has been made by dour New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, a liberal stalwart and a champion of Obama's election. In her column on July 30th Dowd said that both exhibited ineffectual management style as they presided over economic and energy crises. She also brought up the poor public opinion and compared Obama's apology tour in the Middle East to Carters handling of the Iranian hostage crisis.

Now we can add more detail to Maureen's list. Obama exacerbated the energy problems in USA by rejecting the Keystone pipeline, which would have facilitated distribution of Canadian oil and huge gas deposits in the American northwest throughout the US.

The latest comparison is between Egypt and Iran. Almost a year ago Obama threw Hosni Mubarack under the bus, in the same way Carter undermined the Shah or Iran. Mubarack was a flawed, but secular ally of US in the Middle East. Sadly, the results are very similar. Islamist parties recently won nearly 3/4 of Egyptian parliament, ensuring that Egypt is going to become another Islamist country. The only difference is that Egyptian Islamists are Salafist and Sunni, while Iranian are Shiites.

A disturbing reminder of this similarity that motivated me to write this piece, is the treatment of Americans in Egypt. We're recently learned that several Americans were barred from leaving Egypt last weekend. They include Sam LaHood, son of the U.S. Transportation Secretary, who said they are facing five years in jail for working for unregistered non-government organizations. LaHood, who was the director of the Egyptian program for the International Republican Institute (IRI) said: "We're kind of expecting the worst."

The United States said Egypt should release them: “We are urging the government of Egypt to lift these restrictions immediately and allow these folks to come home as soon as possible,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

The US State Department officials said it was the first time in three decades that US military aid to Egypt ($1.3 billion per year) was at risk.

Although Egypt is hurting financially, and has recently asked IMF for a $3.2 billion loan, I sense that the desire of newly empowered Islamists in Egypt to put a finger in the eye of what Iranians call "the great Satan" will prove greater than their need for US money.

Sensing this embarrassment three major beltway lobbyists, who have received over $4 million for representing Egyptian government since 2007 have chosen to drop Egypt as a client.

Lacking any sense of irony, Jimmy Carter recently offered Obama advice on how to win reelection: don't alienate voters in the first term.

It's too late for that. It would be more appropriate for Jimmy to speak from experience and console Obama on his impending loss in the November 2012, by saying: "If you wait long enough, Barry, another liberal will come to serve out your second term."

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