The tide of revolt that has swept the Arab World in the last two months has been stunning in scope, intensity and importance. From the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf autocratic regimes have been shaken and some have fallen in an historic reformation of how Arab countries will manage their affairs. This transformation, dubbed an “Arab Spring,” has also stunned foreign policy making institutions in the United States as America’s values and interests are increasingly at odds with each other.
The throngs of Egyptians who have taken to the streets in the Arab world’s most populous country are shaking the foundations of regimes across North Africa and the Middle East with scant hope America will emerge from this new crisis with a winning hand, much less breaking even.
Indifference to global developments is not a new phenomenon in America’s public life. In recounting the story of the Council on Foreign Relations, Colorado College political scientist David Hendrickson, writing in “Foreign Affairs,” noted the relative ignorance among officials and the public about the world. Of the former he said the U.S. State Department, in the wake of World War I, lacked the “detailed knowledge of European conditions that would be required for redrawing, as fairly as could be done, the map of the world.” Of the citizenry of the day, he said “American domestic opinion was returning with a vengeance, to the insular habits that had long characterized it,” citing as evidence the “Philadelphia Record’s” comment in 1928 that, “The American people don’t give a hoot in a rainbarrel who controls north China.”
Jon Stewart on the Daily Show continued coverage of the New York City Islamic Center controversy last night ("Tennessee No Evil") taking his examination of the controversy from the Park 51 Center (the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque") in Manhattan, two blocks from the WTC, to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, "18,000 blocks" from the WTC.
"They came first for the Communists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for me and by that time no one was left to speak up.."
Why has standing up for a fundamental Constitutional protection become an act of political courage? That question was one of the least savory aspects of the primary battles that wrapped up this week for U.S. House seats and the Governor’s job in Tennessee but it sadly reflected recent political pandering and religious bigotry at the national level.
The newest addition to the seemingly unending collection of stories that you just can’t make up is the strange case of General Stanley McChrystal, who until this week was the top military man in Afghanistan directing American and NATO combat forces. The general handed his commander in chief a resignation on Wednesday after the public airing of disparaging comments aimed at American civilian leaders. But there is the unanswered question of why he joined a fight he was sure to lose, and a particularly strange part of the story is the battlefield he chose for the losing campaign. Rolling Stone.
Thanks to everyone who sent feedback about this week's column, "Memo to Glenn Beck and Fox News Media Mogul Rupert Murdoch." In it I mentioned that President Obama was giving Memorial Day remarks at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, Illinois after Mr. Beck and others on Fox News (and elsewhere) asserted that President Obama was skipping the Arlington National Cemetery observance at the Tomb of the Unknowns in favor of a "vacation." [Click on this post title to see the video.]