Obama is losing Egypt

President Obama better hope that the crowds clamoring for an overthrow of the Mubarak regime really do achieve a functioning liberal democracy rather than an Iranian-style theocracy. His reelection hopes could be doomed if Iran takes over.

Just as Nixon helped to discredit Harry Truman and defeat Democratic presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson in 1952 by trumpeting the question, “Who lost China?,” Obama may well have to explain how and why he lost Egypt. If he permits Egypt to slip through our fingers and go over to the Iranian sphere of influence, he will pay for it politically in 2012. Imagine if this president, whose domestic policy initiatives are coming apart at the seams, loses office over a foreign-policy blunder.

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The Muslim Brotherhood is allied closely with Hamas. To the extent that it masquerades as a peaceful body, it is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Any coalition with the Brotherhood is as likely to remain secular as Hitler’s early coalition with von Hindenburg in Germany was likely to stay non-Nazi. The Muslim Brotherhood will take over if it gets its foot in the door.

By failing to back Mubarak, Obama is committing the same sin that Eisenhower did in Cuba and Carter did in Iran. He needs to understand that the radical Islamists mean us ill, and any effort to appease them is bound to fail.

If Egypt falls, Obama will have permanently damaged America’s vital interests. Look at what Carter’s abandonment of the shah has already cost the world and is likely to cost it in the future. We now face the possibility that a radicalized Egypt could be Obama’s gift to the globe.

Until now, Americans have regarded Obama’s flirtation with the Arab street with a mild concern that he may be too naïve in his understanding of that part of the world. But his policy of appeasement toward radical Islam has yet to have any bad consequence. We have had some terror attacks, to be sure, but none has risen to the level of a cataclysm. But losing Egypt to the grip of 
Islamic fundamentalism would be a huge blow to the United States, Israel and to the entire Western world.

It would, literally, open the door to a theocratic Iranian-style empire stretching from Morocco to Iran. Inspired by an Islamic takeover in Egypt, Obama could find himself confronted with a Middle Eastern version of the old domino theory, where one nation after another falls to Islamism, with each new theocratic conquest destabilizing its neighbor.

Remember that Iran has a population of 79 million and Egypt has 75 million. Together, their 154 million almost equal the combined population of all the other nations in North Africa and the Middle East. If Egypt and Iran were to work in tandem, they could control the region.

By failing to back Mubarak and telling the Egyptian military to pull its punches and let the demonstrators take over the streets, the Obama administration has come to own responsibility for the outcome of the Egyptian revolution. If it goes south and leads to a disastrous outcome, it will be his foreign policy that will rightly shoulder the blame.

Obama should be backing Mubarak. Remember that Egypt was the first Arab nation to sign a peace deal with Israel and the only one to work with the Jewish state. It was in pursuit of peace that Anwar Sadat, Mubarak’s predecessor, gave his life.

With the United States supplying $1.3 billion in annual aid to the Egyptian military — in addition to $700 million in other assistance — we have great leverage, particularly over the military. Our demands that they behave gently toward the demonstrators may doom their efforts to preserve the regime.

How much damage can one misguided American president do? We are about to find out.

Morris, a former adviser to Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and President Bill Clinton, is the author of Outrage, Fleeced and Catastrophe. To get all of his and Eileen McGann’s columns for free by e-mail or to order a signed copy of their latest book, 2010: Take Back America — A Battle Plan, go to dickmorris.com.