Sakset/Fra hofta

Barack Obama har tonet ned hyllesten til demonstrantene som marsjerer i gatene i den arabiske verden, selv om han møter kritikk for unnfallenhet og for å la en historisk sjanse gå fra seg. Obama må tenke i et lengre perspektiv, hva tjener USAs interesser? Det er det hans jobb går ut på.

New York Times har en interessant analyse av den nye kursen. Obama gikk langt i å støtte demonstrantene i Egypt. Nå er han mer forsiktig.

“It’s tempting, and it would be easy, to go out day after day with cathartic statements that make us feel good,” said Benjamin J. Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser, who wrote Mr. Obama’s soaring speech in Cairo to the Islamic world in 2009. “But ultimately, what’s most important is achieving outcomes that are consistent with our values, because if we don’t, those statements will be long forgotten.”

On Thursday, Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, Thomas E. Donilon, deflected calls for more aggressive action in Libya, telling reporters what American officials have been saying privately for days: despite pleas from Libyan rebels for military assistance, the United States will not, at least for now, put its pilots in harm’s way by enforcing a no-flight zone over the country.

Not only is intervention risky, officials said, but they also fear that in some cases, it could be counterproductive, provoking a backlash against the United States for meddling in what is a homegrown political movement.

Forsiktigheten han har vist i Golfen står i kontrast til politikken overfor Egypt og Libya. Demonstrantene vil at Obama, den første svarte presidenten, skal fyre opp under deres aspirasjoner med flammende retorikk. Men Obama er USAs president først og fremst. Hva kommer i stedet for kongefamilien i Bahrain, eller Saudi-Arabia?

Obama har allerede fremmedgjort kong Abdullah av Saudi-Arabia med sin avstandtaken fra Hosni Mubarak. Hillary Clinton drar til Egypt og Tunisia til uken, men kong Abdullah var for syk til å ta imot henne. Politisk syk?

“There is a desire for Obama — not the American president, but Obama — to speak to their aspirations,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. But, he added, “his first job is to be the American president.”

So Mr. Obama has thrown his weight behind attempts by the royal family of Bahrain, the home of the Navy’s Fifth Fleet, to survive, although protesters say their demands have not been met. He has said little about political grievances in Saudi Arabia, a major oil supplier, where there were reports on Thursday of a violent dispersal of Shiite protesters. And he has limited White House critiques of Yemen, where the government is helping the United States root out a terrorist threat, even after that government opened fire on demonstrators.

Obama Seeks a Course of Pragmatism in the Middle East