GUESS THE GOP’S ‘FREEDOM AGENDA’ HAS FALLEN OUT OF FAVOR?…. The foreign policy complexities of developments in Egypt are pretty obvious. For U.S. officials, sympathies for the protestors are tempered by fears of who and what might replace the Mubarak government.
For the right, however, this isn’t supposed to be too difficult. By the latter half of the Bush/Cheney tenure, conservatives had embraced what they called the “freedom agenda.” The idea was built on a neocon vision of foreign affairs — support free elections under all circumstances, give the region a taste of democracy, and watch Middle Eastern dictatorships and autocratic regimes fall.
Bush’s agenda quickly flopped. The Republican administration rushed Gaza’s elections, which led to Hamas victories. Bush did the same in Lebanon, and Hezbollah won. The GOP team looked especially misguided when Bush, while touting the “freedom agenda, praised Pakistan’s Pervez Musharraf as someone who “truly … believes in democracy.”
A few years have passed, as has, apparently, the right’s support for the underlying idea. Just over the last 48 hours, we’ve seen more and more conservatives urge President Obama to throw the support of the U.S. government behind the Mubarak regime. In the media, for example, Bush’s U.N. Ambassador, John Bolton, announced his support for Mubarak, followed soon after by Dick Morris.
On the Hill, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) said he wants the Mubarak government to stay in place, and House GOP Conference Chair Rep. Thaddeus McCotter went so far as to insist that those demanding more freedom are actually “enemies” of freedom.
The Republican congressman from Michigan likened demonstrations in Egypt to “Iran’s 1979 radical revolution.” He cautions that those who “will be tempted to superficially interpret the Egyptian demonstrations as an uprising for populist democracy” should instead “recall how such similar initial views of the 1979 Iranian Revolution were belied by the mullahs’ radical jackbooted murderers.” […]
McCotter closed his statement with advice on how to proceed, “If we fail to meet today’s enemy on the same determined, principled terms, we will too late awake in a nightmare world. But, if today’s enemy is steadfastly met and bested, liberty and the rule of law will be unleashed for millions throughout the world.”
He added, “Right now, freedom’s radicalized enemies are subverting Egypt and our other allies.”
As a substantive matter, equating Egyptian demonstrations and Iran’s 1979 revolution is rather silly. But putting that aside, in the context of American politics, this suggests the right is far from united on U.S. policy towards Egypt.
It’s likely that there will be conservatives who back the protestors as part of a belief in promoting democracy, but as of yesterday, there’s apparently a contingent on the right that’s entirely comfortable with an Egyptian dictatorship.
As developments unfold, this is an angle that’s worth keeping an eye on. At a minimum, if the right isn’t on the same page, it’s likely to affect how the GOP decides to condemn the Obama administration’s policy.