February 21 2011
It's Presidents' Day-and I'd like to take this opportunity to praise a man who is leading bravely in difficult times. His nation faces unprecedented financial challenges and the world is erupting on his watch. And yet...he leads.
Alas, I do not refer to President Obama.
David Cameron just became the first Western leader to visit Cairo since the toppling of Hosni Mubarak. The U. K. Telegraph reports that Mr. Cameron is "urging Egypt's new military leaders to make good on promises of full democracy."
And, unlike some leaders I could name, Mr. Cameron recognizes what non-secular force is most inimical to hope for a democracy in Egypt:
Mr. Cameron was also due to meet members of the anti-Mubarak opposition, but not members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest political organisation in the country.
Some Western analysts say the Brotherhood promotes extremism, and Mr. Cameron said he had deliberately chosen to meet non-Brotherhood members of the opposition in order to bolster them and their role in post-Mubarak Egypt.
He said that it was not inevitable that open elections in the country would lead to a government dominated by the Brotherhood.
"This is not an Islamist revolution, it not extremists on the streets," the Prime Minister said.
Mr. Cameron said that he believed the "huge ties of history and culture" between Britain and Egypt put him in a good position to make the case for greater freedom and democracy in the country.
Wow. Mr. Cameron is even proud of his island nation's history.
It's odd. Cameron came to power with a divided government, having to share power with another party, and he came across as just the sort of vaguely foppish Old Etonian who might very well be unequal to the challenges of a perilous world. By contrast, Barack Obama assumed the presidency as the world's darling, with a government skewed dramatically in favor of his party.
Cameron doesn't seem to be the kind of leader desperate to get on the right side of history. Instead, he wants to do the right thing. He is grounded enough to know that the Muslim Brotherhood is a threat and bold enough to go to Egypt to try to bring about a good outcome for Egypt and the world.
Contrast that with the Obama administration's flailing during the Egyptian crisis and its despicable behavior last week in the United Nations. I happen to believe that the administration (reluctantly) cast the right vote, to veto a Palestinian-led condemnation of Israel. But then U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice opened her mouth and made us look like "a banana republic in front of actual banana republics."
I can't imagine anybody in Turtle Bay respects the U.S. for Ms. Rice's unseemly performance last week.