When the army suddenly sent Mubarak packing, the White House hailed the revolution as the harbinger of an Arab spring.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton burbled that her 15-minute stroll through Tahrir Square was “a great reminder of the power of the human spirit and universal desire for freedom and human rights and democracy.”
Some of the young demonstrators, recalling America’s 30-year friendship with Mubarak and ambivalence over his ouster, refused to talk with her.
In denouncing Syria and Iran for crushing peaceful protests, the Obamaites acted consistent with the democratic values they preach. In their muffled response to the brutal treatment of demonstrators in Bahrain and Yemen, they put national interests above national ideals.
Indeed, it is this clash between our professed ideals and our perceived interests that has produced the reigning confusion in Washington and the near paralysis of American policy in the Middle East.
“Nations have no permanent friends or allies; they only have permanent interests,” said Lord Palmerston. America lacks that kind of certitude. She is conflicted. She cannot make up her mind. Do our interests come first or our ideals? How can they be in conflict?