There has been a repeated story in the news over the weeks since the removal of Egyptian President Morsi by the Egyptian military headed by General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi claiming that United States President Barack Obama and his administration are treading carefully in order to preserve their influence which they may need to wield in the future. There are constant references to the Obama Administration’s wise avoidance of calling the actions by the Egyptian military a coup in order to preserve their ability to provide Egypt with much needed funds. Of course the claim is that these funds are the main influence the United States holds. There are so many problems with this story line that it is difficult to decide where to start. To be fully honest, making any reference to influence with anyone in the world that the United States still possesses outside of the Israelis is laughable; and the only reason the administration can influence the Israelis is that they actually require the American United Nations Security Council veto to hold off the complete isolation that would ensue should they not possess that saving grace or a similar promise from one of the other four members, Britain, France, Russia or China, all of which either have open animosities with Israel or are close allies of nations such as many of the Muslim and Arab states who would sponsor sanctions destructive to Israel. So, maybe we should not call what the United States has to force the Israelis to cooperate even against their better judgment so much as influence as the Obama administration wields the Sword of Damocles above Israel’s neck.
Meanwhile, back to take a quick look around the world for examples of the unbelievable level, or lack of level, of influence President Obama and, by inference, the United States possess almost anywhere across the world. We have all either heard, read, witnessed or some combination the complete lack of regard and respect dished out on both President Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry by Russian President Putin. When the sole praise the in-the-bag media were able to laud President Obama over regarding Russian President Putin was President Obama cancelling a meeting with Putin before an economic conference that was to be held in Russia recently. Unfortunately the press did not deem it worthy to cover President Putin’s reaction and we missed that as it likely would have been quite amusing. The last time a Russian in high position bothered to even listen to what President Obama had to say was before Putin returned to his office as President and Medvedev held the Presidency as a placeholder and puppet of Vladimir Putin. There may have been a reason that even Medvedev agreed to hear what President Obama wished to communicate as this was the meeting we all heard what was said by President Obama due to an unrealized open microphone which revealed his statements, “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.” Medvedev promised to inform Putin of Obama’s need after which President Obama continued, “This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.” Medvedev affirmed he understood and would carry the message to Vladimir for Obama. Perhaps the subservience announced in this exchange is partially responsible for Russian President Putin’s disregard and disrespect for the American President.
In a completely different arena the newly anointed new dear leader of North Korea President Kim Jong-un, some have referred to the twenty-eight-year-old ruler and a child due to his extremely youthful appearance, was exercising his boasts as is the usual first act of new leaders in North Korea. They make claims, launch missiles, reopen formerly closed nuclear research and development sites and threaten to launch a massive attack on South Korea and the United States. This is nothing new and their ignoring any pressures from the President of the United States for one or, at most, two missile launches and then they historically have backed off of their nuclear development threats and return to being mostly a non-issue soon after. This usually follows an intervention by China often at the request of the United States President among others. As per usual, the new leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, started making test missile launches, reopened closed nuclear labs, threatened South Korea and the United States, moved troops, missiles and artillery units towards the south and other saber rattling. Kim Jong-un ignored everything President Obama demanded which is to be expected and does not reflect on Obama’s ability to influence events. But when President Obama made requests for the Chinese leaders to restrain the North Korean leader the Chinese simply refused to do anything of the sort. President Obama and a number of his Administration all repeatedly requested the Chinese intervene but to no avail. That was another indication of lack of influence.
More examples could be given from Europe, Asia, South America, but let us return instead to Egypt. President Obama’s being pretty much ignored by the Egyptian military leadership is not entirely due to his lack of gravitas, much of it has to do with the fact that the Egyptian military is actually acting at the insistence of the majority of the Egyptian population and fulfilling their role as protectors of the people. Another reason they are ignoring the entreats and demands from President Obama is that they honestly do not care what he has to say nor do they care much what anybody wants as they are working to salvage their country from being transformed into a Sharia observant Islamist State and retain their secular liberties or at least some hope of realizing such liberties. President Obama and his administration have silently exerted every ounce of influence they have short of a public denouncing the Egyptian military for having executed a military coup. The reason that President Obama is avoiding such a label is by declaring Egypt to be under the rule resulting from a military coup the United States would be forced by act of law to cut all financial aid to Egypt permanently. President Obama has silently scaled back aid to Egypt to a point where virtually if not all military aid to Egypt has been suspended. The administration confirms this while asserting that this is possibly just a temporary measure which could be reversed in the near future. The difficulty for President Obama and his administration is cutting off aid to the Egyptian military is having absolutely no effect as the Royals of Saudi Arabia have already made up the difference and promised to provide the Egyptian military with much if not all the aid they may require in their efforts to provide Egypt with a political scene free of the influences from the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists. The Saudis are in total support of Egypt remaining a mostly secular nation and out of the clutches or influence of Islamists which may position Egypt with those who oppose Saudi Arabia’s loose alliance of Arab states. The Saudi Arabian Royal family took this move as a direct response negating the attempt by President Obama to exercise financial pressure and influence on the Egyptian military leadership. The Saudi Arabian leadership has taken a number of steps recently that have as their source their suspicions that President Obama is not really their friend, is not about to do anything to prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons, and to simply show President Obama that they are going to do whatever it takes even if they have to run over President Obama and all of his efforts and designs in the Middle East. The Saudi Royals not only have no respect for President Obama, they have taken up opposition to President Obama and will work to frustrate all of his designs starting with Egypt. This is something that is actually a positive outcome even for what most Americans who have a traditional American outlook on the Middle East which existed before President Obama. The coming showdown over who should rule in Egypt, a military backed government until elections free from Islamist influences or parties can be held and a secular constitution approved or a Muslim Brotherhood government which will institute a Sharia Islamist government and constitution. President Obama very likely has been locked out of having any influence on the outcome in Egypt as Saudi Arabia has preempted President Obama’s singular weapon, cash. The only result should President Obama continue on his insistence for the return to Muslim Brotherhood rule in Egypt will be the loss of every Sunni friend to the United States in the Middle East turning to another source for their military weapons and that will be the termination of any American influence in the Middle East beyond threatening Israel.
Beyond the Cusp