Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Why Do American (Republican) Politicians Make Fools of Themselves in the Middle East?

By Barry Rubin

 Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Mark Kirk, and Mario Rubio are going to regret their Wall Street Journal op-ed on Libya. I don't even have to critique the piece but just to quote it in order to show why:

"Last Thursday we arrived in Tripoli to the promise of a free Libya. We saw a city that is surprisingly secure and orderly. We visited al-Jdeida prison and spoke freely with detainees—a testament to the commitment of the Transitional National Council (TNC) to democracy, transparency and the rule of law. At the end of the day, we walked through Martyrs' Square, where Libyans cheered and thanked America and our NATO allies."

Now compare this to eyewitness accounts like this one or to many others available in the media, showing how the rebels, with NATO's help, are bombarding civilians in Sirte, or accounts of torture and execution of prisoners, or the massive looting in every town captured by the rebels, and the weapons sold by them to terrorists.

One less excuse for this disconnect with reality in Libya is that mass media coverage, terrible in Egypt, has been far better there. "Everybody is getting their knives out," said Mohammed Benrasali, who runs the civilian stabilization team in the same city where the Republican senators are all ga-ga about remarkable order. The headline of that article in the same Wall Street Journal as the senator' piece? "Discord Riddles Libyan Factions."

 Yet here we see the senators as naive tourists peering at Potemkin villages: finding orderly cities, content prisoners, and a wonderful new regime.

Read it all:

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