President Obama has rediscovered his gift for words following the killing of Bin Laden. He now tells us he believes in democracy, freedom and the right to peaceful protest in the Middle East. What he does not tell us convincingly is how he thinks the Middle East can get to that happy state, and how the USA thinks it is helping.
The truth is the USA intervenes militarily in some places and not in others. Where it has invaded and occupied, in Iraq and Afghanistan, it has found it very difficult to impose a western style democracy it is happy with. In other places with equally undemocratic regimes that offend western ideals of civil liberties and freedoms the USA either turns a blind eye or thinks condemnations and sanctions suffice as a response.
Many independent commentators think the US policy has an altogether more down to earth common thread, the defence of western access to oil. When the UK was the major world power and the USA the challenger for that onerous crown, the USA condemned too much intervention in other people’s countries and affairs. The USA argued against invasion and occupation, calling it colonisation. Now the US is the world’s superpower it has allowed itself to be dragged into more direct involvement.
Mr Obama should make a sequel speech answering the following questions:
How important is the supply of oil to the west in his thinking, and what are his policies to reduce US dependence on imported Middle Eastern oil?
Why does the USA take direct military action to tackle what it sees as the government problems of Iraq and Afghanistan, but not of other countries?
Does the USA want regime change in Libya or not?
Does revenge make for good policy? Why did the USA take much stronger action against Afghanistan than Pakistan following 9/11?
Why is Syria more unacceptable than Bahrain or Saudi, but less unacceptable than Afghanistan or Iraq?