The Price of Appeasement

As the Arab Spring has transformed itself into the long, hot Islamic summer, optimism about the Arab world has had to undergo a significant reality check in America and the West.

First off, the sobering results of a recent poll, taken by Zogby International together with the Arab American Institute; this poll, which was released on July 12th, surveyed 4,000 people in six Arab nations, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Lebanon , Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, indicates that the respondents actually view the U.S. less favorably today than they did during the last year of the Bush administration

When President Bush left office 9 percent of Egyptians had a favorable attitude towards the United States. Today, only 5 percent of Egyptians surveyed said they have a favorable opinion of the United States and its president. Similar figures were reported throughout the region.

And remember: President Bush had initiated the wars in the Muslim states of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Arab world is reacting to the lack of leadership they see coming out of the White House. A reaction resulting from the falsely high expectations President Obama had given them in his initial Cairo speech.  He assured them that Israel, America’s one stable and reliable regional ally, would not only cave in on concessions and be delivered to them but would also be returned once again to the indefensible pre-1967 boundaries.

The delivery on this promise would have signaled a clear victory for the Palestinians, for Hamas and for radical Islam while weakening the only democracy in the region.

While the U.S.’s reputation in the Arab world suffered when it could not fulfill the unrealistic expectations that were generated about the U.S. delivering Israel to them on a silver platter, it was the killing of Osama Bin Laden by U.S. special forces that sent the poll numbers charting Arab feelings toward the U.S. plummeting to devastatingly lows. The killing of Osama Bin Laden was described as the final “coup de grace” by the 4,000 Arab respondents surveyed.

Which leads us to the following obvious questions about our “Moderate Arab allies:” Are they with us or are they with the terrorists?

It has been difficult for the Obama administration, who began its term in office as the “anti-Bush” president, to come to grips with the lesson that appeasement does not guarantee friendship (or even allies) and only raises the stakes for more concessions.

What else has this administration’s self-described “leadership from behind” brought forth?

The Obama administration also disdained and disregarded the 1979 Camp David Accords signed by Israel and the Palestinians — which America also guaranteed with its signature.  According to an article in Monday’s New York Times, the Accords had banned smuggling of weapons by the Palestinians are being completely ignored as smuggling from the Sinai into Gaza has only accelerated and continues to be brazen and rampant.

In addition, all polls indicate that the Islamist parties that hate the West and seek to destroy Israel (including the Muslim Brotherhood which is far from moderate), are in position to win in the upcoming Egyptian parliamentary elections scheduled for the fall. Anti-American sentiment in Egypt has become so overwhelming that the head of USAID in Egypt was forced to leave Egypt abruptly because of a dispute over whether our aid could be given to pro-democracy groups.

And also in the region, Turkey under Prime Minister Erdogan is getting more and more Islamicized and radicalized and has turned against both Israel and the United States. The Turkish Islamic Government of Erdogan has just undermined the Turkish army, which historically has been the guarantor of a secular state since the days of Ataturk.

For the first time in Turkish history, hundreds of army officers are being put on trial on trumped up charges of “conspiracy to overthrow the government” — in a reprise of Stalin’s infamous purges. General Bilgin Balani has had to appear before a civilian court, together with 27 other army officers in what the Turkish government has entitled, “Operation Sledgehammer.” Until three months ago, General Balani was to have been appointed commander of the Air Force.

This is the method ideological tyrannies have historically used to remove their political opposition — create an imaginary crisis and liquidate the opposition under the guise of “protecting the state” — and this is the same pattern the Erdogan Turkish Islamic government has now copied to destroy its secular political opposition.

In Afghanistan, as the U.S. is getting ready to withdraw its troops, the Taliban is re-emerging as a force to reckon with. They have steadily been chipping away at the root of what the U.S. and its NATO allies had tried to put into place to remain after we leave.  According to an excellent article by Khalid Nasir in Pajamas Media, the U.S. has relied too strongly on tribal strongmen who have proven to be both corrupt and unreliable.

In even more worrying news, according to Khalid Abu Toameh of the Hudson Institute, the Palestinian Authority is planning another uprising in the fall, irrespective of whether or not the US vetoes a unilateral resolution for statehood.  Just two weeks ago, Nabil Shaith, Foreign Policy Head of the P.A., went on Lebanese television, saying that, “We will never accept a two-state solution, whether it is a French plan, a Czechoslovakian plan or an American plan.” Yet Obama continues to push his idea of a two-state solution as though the leader of the Palestinians had never uttered these defiant words.  If the Palestinian government and its people will never accept a two-state solution — what is everyone negotiating about?

In Syria, the blood bath continues.  Well over 1,000 people have been murdered in cold blood for participating in peaceful, democratic protests. As the administration tries to figure out what to do with the situation, the rampant horror and arbitrary arrests, systemic torture and executions continue.  Syrian tanks continue to gun down protestors in the streets.

These are Syrian crimes against humanity.  The Arab League just held an emergency session concerning Syria just today. And even though the Arab governments are recalling their ambassadors to show their disapproval — the U.S. ambassador remains.

The administration is still dithering about what to do in Syria. Our lack of any firm resolve has already emboldened the regime of Bashir Assad. Another speech about considering further sanctions by Secretary of State Clinton is far too little — and far too late.

As Winston Churchill once said, “There is no greater mistake than to suppose that platitudes, smooth words and timid policies offer a path to safety.”

Such is the price of appeasement.

About the Author

Sarah Stern
Sarah Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET).

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