Reporter's Note: President Obama had a lot to say about our efforts to support democracy in the Middle East a few weeks ago. I haven’t heard much lately, so I’m asking about that in today’s letter.
Dear Mr. President,
Spring is a time for taking stock of where you stand, and right now I must say that would be a good idea with regard to the Middle East.
Despite an awful lot of cymbals and kettledrums over there in recent months, I’m not entirely sure whether America is better or worse off for our support of the uprisings. Presumably all the “regime changing, rioting in the streets, down-with-whomever-is-in-charge” action has improved the situation for someone. But for whom?
We have invested a lot of time, money, effort, and emotion in all this, and while we might say it was all for the good of the people there, you and I both know that’s not the whole story. We most assuredly hoped (or still hope) that the people who would come into power through this process would be grateful for our support and, perhaps, America’s friends in the future.
But I can’t see any clear evidence that this is what’s happening. Seems like protestors are still protesting, even where they have “won.” The unrest appears far from over. In places like Libya, all the momentum of a few weeks back, has ground into an ugly and protracted grudge match. And so again I wonder: How has America benefited?
I’m sure my view is too narrow. The protestors who were struggling against such terrible odds must be enjoying some sense of progress. And it could be we’ll see some kind of long term benefits for helping them.
But like I said, this might be a great time for you and the rest of the Capitol Hill gang to add up what we’ve spent and figure out what we got for it. And when you have a tally, let the rest of us know; because I suspect a lot of Americans right now are not at all sure if we are winning or losing in this particular game of diplomatic poker.
I’m heading back from North Carolina today. Call if you want me to bring barbeque!
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