Did Iraq have something to do with Tunisia's uprising?
That's the question posed by Jennifer Rubin, a conservative blogger for the Washington Post.
(This post was edited after creation to correct the first name of Ms. Rubin from the Post).Skip to next paragraph
Dan Murphy is a staff writer for the Monitor's international desk, focused on the Middle East. Murphy, who has reported from Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, and more than a dozen other countries, writes and edits Backchannels. The focus? War and international relations, leaning toward things Middle East.
The Arab League observer mission in Syria is likely to fail
Egypt's military rulers crack down on democracy groups
Iran's threats over Strait of Hormuz? Understandable, but not easy
Eastern Libya poll indicates political Islam will closely follow democracy
Iraq's Maliki threatens, Sunnis grumble, and Baghdad goes boom
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Jennifer Rubin, a conservative commentator who writes the "Right Turn" blog for the Washington Post has an extended set of musings on Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution today, in which she criticizes Hillary Clinton for a "wishy-washy" statement in support of the nation's protesters and advises President Obama to push the region to give its people a real political voice.
Obama should adopt "concrete polices that can assist democracy advocates not only in Tunisia, but in Jordan, Egypt and elsewhere. If Obama wants to do some more productive "Muslim Outreach," he should stop trying to ingratiate himself with despotic leaders and show that America is, and will continue to be, on the side of those yearning for freedom," she writes.
The problem has always been what concrete action Obama, or any American president, should take as they seek to balance America's often competing interests in the region. Sacrifice intelligence sharing with Egypt or Yemen in exchange for a principled stand and cutting off military aid? Demand fair elections that might well deliver political forces hostile to the US agenda in the region into power?
And in the specific case of Tunisia, the fact that the uprising that drove President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was both spontaneous and entirely local, has been one of its great assets in the eyes of activists that would like to emulate the Jasmine Revolution in places like Egypt or Algeria. There's an argument to be made that the US should express support for democratic change in Tunisia, but avoid getting in the way of a revolution it's had nothing to do with so far and whose ultimate outcomes remain unguessable. (Kristen Chick, the Monitor's correspondent in Tunis, writes this afternoon that many protesters are vowing to resist an interim government that is packed full of Ben Ali's erstwhile underlings.)