While revolutions and protest movements are exploding in a region of the world short on American allies, our government appears entirely unprepared for what to do after decades-old governments fall. A transfer of power from a dictator to an Islamic hardliner is not only dangerous for the United States and our allies, it is detrimental to the freedom many brave protesters seek to experience.
In Egypt, we are officially failing. While President Obama was correct in asserting that young people led the revolution, we know now that they have little influence in post-revolution Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood, an enemy of the United States and Israel, utilized its vast grass-roots network to ensure that constitutional amendments were passed that favored its movement over all others. With the more than a billion dollars we invest each year, there is no excuse for acting as if we cannot influence the future of Egypt.
If Mr. Obama truly hoped to give those young people who led the revolution a running start on reforming their country, his administration could have opposed the rush to elections and the drafting of a new constitution. A Muslim Brotherhood government should jeopardize the financial assistance Egypt receives and Egyptians deserve to know that. While our current president may have no qualms about funding the Brotherhood, a future Republican president may not be so keen on assisting an anti-West, Islamist movement. Maybe it is time to let Egyptians know that we are prepared to transfer the aid they receive directly to Israel so that our real ally is better prepared to defend against an openly hostile Egyptian government.
In Libya, we are on the path to arming rebels who have at least a "flicker" of al Qaeda and Hezbollah fighters in their ranks. As we know from experience, Islamist political movements will play ball with the United States so long as we are advancing their domestic cause and will quickly turn their backs on the West when our Tomahawk missiles, bombers and weapons are no longer needed. No one wants to stomach the notion that 20 years from now, we may learn that we armed, trained and empowered the next international jihadist movement, the next Osama bin Laden and the next Talibanesque government that will provide a safe haven for the next al Qaeda.
The adoption and enforcement, yes enforcement, of basic human rights is key to preventing another Moammar Gadhafi, Hosni Mubarak, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Bashar Assad or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. When people can cast a vote without fear of retribution, open a new political party office without worrying that it may be bombed, practice the religion of their choice or publicly declare they have no religious beliefs without the fear of being killed, it is much tougher for authoritarians to seize power. These kinds of rights do not exist immediately following the adoption of a new constitution, U.N. resolution or the outcome of an election. Without a long, steady transfer to democracy that involves education, civil society and the development of new political organizations, a rush to elections spells trouble for the realization of actual freedom and liberty.
The United States should only provide assistance to revolutionary movements that welcome our continued support after the revolution and who call the United States their ally. As investors in the revolution, we should naturally assume the role of stakeholder in the new country. It is not meddling when you own it.
As a supporter of intervention in Libya and regime change in Egypt, I had some faith that our government knew what it was doing and I want these young people leading the revolutions to succeed. The consequences of our ill-informed action may be very costly to the future of our nation and people who seek real freedom.
Jordan Sekulow is director of international operations at the American Center for Law and Justice and co-host of "Jay Sekulow Live!"
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