Mr. Obama, “tear down this wall”

A little more than 22 years ago, the 2nd world that is Eastern Europe saw major transformations. I don’t totally agree with the Reagan and Thatcher doctrines, especially those who relate the Reagan rant of “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” as one of the forces that apparently contributed to the fall of the Berlin wall and much of the East.

Forgiving this totally uninitiated, hypocritical state of mind, the recent events in the North Africa and the Middle East makes us think history indeed repeats itself; we can start ranting here from the East: “Mr. Obama, tear down this wall.” Perhaps it is now high time for the US not to fear Arab democracy. Maybe it is time to stop supporting dictators and autocrats and monarchies that will not attack Israel and will not ensure the flow of foreign oil to the Western markets. It’s also high time to start valuing Egypt as a model of democratic reform than valuing it more as a strategic partner.

And then Libya comes next. The immediate neighbor of Tunisia and Egypt to the west and east and the largest oil producer in Africa, Libya’s ruler Gaddafi also has Western blessing, like his unpopular neighbor Mubarak. Could the Gaddafi regime and the West continue to deny an end to corruption and the better use of oil revenues and bring true democracy in the process? The opposite is true so far, as the US remains silent. As for Gaddafi, in a speech this week by his son and most likely future successor, he warned of Western domination once Libya falls, which is of course hypocrisy at its best.

This ‘freedom virus’ also has spread to Bahrain, home to the US Fifth Fleet. Needless to say, it is one of the most important naval armadas, in this case ensuring that the Persian gulf is open and biased to US shipping, and of course for projecting power against Iran. This is a sad tale, as Bahrain is not even the most important country where American-style democracy should be demonstrated, and yet it fails and frustrates to affect any positive stance.

It’s unfortunate that you are the present commander-in-chief of the sole superpower of the world as this really testing events unfold; but as someone who has promised ‘change has come to America’, dealing with these revolutions (let’s hope not civil wars) really will be one of the tests that is itching to be passed. Then again, Mr. Obama, tear down this hypocrisy wall.

Duane ARD, February 2011