I was listening to Rush Limbaugh today and noted that he accused President Obama of "losing" Egypt, just like Jimmy Carter "lost" Iran. This is an old right-wing smear against presidents who don’t militarily intervene in every country that is threatened with being taken over by an anti-American regime. The Right’s assertion that President Truman “lost” China to the Communists was an important factor in Lyndon B. Johnson’s decision to fight in Vietnam. LBJ feared that if South Vietnam fell to the Communists he would be branded a coward and an appeaser and a new wave of McCarthyism would wash over the United States. Most of all, Johnson feared that a Communist victory would doom his beloved Great Society domestic programs. LBJ wanted to emulate his idol FDR and continue the New Deal tradition of social justice. Unfortunately, as the anti-war protesters used to write on signs in the 1960s, "the Great Society was shot down over Vietnam.”
I wish I could say that President Obama had his own “Great Society" vision. Unfortunately, he has, at best, passed weak stimulus, feeble financial reform, and a health care law that is largely a copy of previous GOP plans and at worst is a giveaway to insurance companies. So I guess there is not much to be “shot down” over Iraq or Afghanistan.
However, I can’t help but think that the Democrats are still haunted by the ghosts of the Cold War, the same ghosts that haunted LBJ and helped convince him to escalate a hopeless war in a country most Americans had never heard of before. The only way to exorcise these ghosts is to stand up to the destructive chauvinism of people like Rush Limbaugh who think that the United States effectively “owns” the governments and destinies of nations all over the world.
While it may be true that the opposition in Egypt contains nasty elements, ultimately Egypt belongs to the Egyptians and the United States must respect that. Perhaps if we were better at minding our own business and taking care of our own domestic problems we would not have to worry so much about the composition of another nation’s government.