Michele Bachmann Blames Obama For Arab Spring

Michele Bachmann has a rather bizarre view of the protests which swept the Arab world starting in January, and which so far have led to the downfall of three dictators:

Michele Bachmann condemned the Arab Spring and blamed President Obama for allowing it to happen by “showing weakness” and by compromising the United States’ relationship with Israel.

Why do you think there was an Arab Spring, she asked at a GOP fund-raiser at a local barbecue restaurant here. She went on to tie the uprisings to what she described as signals from the White House that America was abandoning Israel.

And in a new historical analogy, Bachmann drew a comparison between the fall of the Shah of Iran — who Bachmann says Jimmy Carter “turned his back” on — and President Obama’s present-day relationship with Israel.

Here’s the video:

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It’s an odd position to take for Republicans, who only a few years ago were talking about bringing freedom to the Arab world, to be denouncing spontaneous protests by the Arab people as a bad thing. We saw the same thing in January when one GOP Congressman criticized the Obama Administration for not standing with Mubarak against the Egyptian people. It’s even more odd for Bachmann to try to tie these protests to American policy vis a vis Israel  in the manner that Tim Pawlenty did in a speech this summer.

It’s almost as if Bachmann et al are saying the prefer to see despots in power in the Arab world. Unless we invade their countries and kick them out, I guess.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Quick Takes, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Franklin says:

    “Michele Bachmann condemned the Arab Spring …”

    This is the part of the story where I get lost.

  2. Andyman says:

    She hates them for their freedom.

  3. Jay Tea says:

    CBS’ Lara Logan and approximately 100,000 Coptic Christians declined to comment.


  4. Jay Tea says:

    Nor, for that matter, did Israel’s ambassador to Egypt.


  5. Andyman says:


    During the adventure in Iraq we kept hearing that you couldn’t make an omelette without breaking eggs, etc. I suppose that’s true in general, not just during occupations.

    Should the US really be in the position of propping up a brutal dictator who’s relatively tolerant of religious minorities? And would the answer change for neo-cons if the Copts were a sect of Islam and not Christianity?

  6. Boyd says:

    Much more important than Bachmann’s presence at the fund-raiser was that they served barbecue.

    Is it time for lunch yet?

  7. Brandon says:

    @Jay Tea: @Jay Tea:

    Jay: A couple of points. First, whether or not the “Arab Spring” is a good or bad thing is separable from the question of whether or not Obama and his administration’s policies are in any way causally connected to it. You seem to think it’s a bad thing. I would question what the relevance of Lara Logan’s assault is to the Arab Spring. Violence against women is unfortunately pervasive around the world. Ms. Logan happened to be assaulted during the anti-Mubarak protests, but she could just as well have been assaulted in another country or in Egypt before the protests. What on earth is the connection between her assault and the Arab Spring? The assault on the Israeli embassy in Cairo is troubling, I will grant you that. But again, EVEN IF one considers the Arab Spring a bad thing, it is beyond idiotic to tie it directly to Obama. Maybe events in other countries sometimes happen because the people in those countries act on their own initiative? Besides, your reference to several events in Egypt ignores the fact that the Arab Spring has encompassed protests in multiple countries: Tunisia, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, etc. Do you support the Assad regime’s massacres of protestors in Syria? Are you against Tunisians protesting against a corrupt, authoritarian regime? If so, maybe you could explain why. I’m curious to know why a couple of possibly negative outcomes in Egypt are apparently more important to you than the reality of Arabs living under brutal, oppressive regimes.

  8. Jay Tea says:

    @Andyman: Andy, what bothers me is that Obama only seems interested in promoting democracy in nations that have been, so various degrees, American allies of late. I’d hardly call them friends, nor would I laud them as great nations, but would-be revolutions in other nations — Lebanon, Syria, and Iran — have gotten nowhere near the attention and support that Libya and Egypt did.

    It’s been said that nations have permanent friends or enemies, only permanent interests. And I would argue that it would have been more in the United States’ interest to foment regime change in Libya, Syria, and Iran, while taking a strict hands-off policy in Egypt and Libya.


  9. Rick Almeida says:

    She was for democracy before she was against it.

    And dammit, Boyd, now I want barbecue.

  10. Boyd says:

    @Rick Almeida: Good. I hate suffering alone.

  11. Liberty is only for certain animals apparently. It always amuses me how people like Bachmann will harp on the US is sovereign train but at the same thing believes that it’s the US tax payers job to support Israel. Give me a break. Neocon “logic” is confusing to put it lightly.

  12. mantis says:

    @Jay Tea:

    And I would argue that it would have been more in the United States’ interest to foment regime change in Libya, Syria, and Iran, while taking a strict hands-off policy in Egypt and Libya.

    I’m assuming you meant something besides Libya in the former, unless you think we should have been both hands off and fomenting regime change there at the same time. So, assuming that, what is your position, exactly? Egypt and Libya both had major revolutions among the people. Iran has had no such thing lately, and the Syrian government has managed to largely control the uprising there. What should we have done? Invade Iran and Syria and left Libya and Egypt alone? Do you know anything about the countries of which you speak? It seems not.

  13. anjin-san says:

    A tea party Republican who thinks freedom for brown people is a bad thing. I know I am shocked.

    CBS’ Lara Logan

    The right has really held on to this like a dog on a bone. Would that they were as concerned about women’s rights and safety issues here in the USA, where there are about 90K rapes a year. But of course the Logan case involves scary brown Muslims, so it is different.

    Worried about women’s safety issues Jay? I suggest you support your local rape crisis center.

  14. Franklin says:

    @Jay Tea: So the Arab Spring is bad? And Obama was responsible for the whole thing? You haven’t answered either of these questions, you’ve just gone off on a complete tangent to blame Obama for something, just not what we’re actually talking about.

  15. Jay Tea says:

    @mantis: No, mantis, I meant Libya — after 9/11, K-Daffy was pretty darned eager for US approval. He gave up his WMDs, cut back on supporting terrorism, and gave us a lot of intelligence. He also took full responsibility for Pan Am 103 and the German disco bombing, including paying reparations. No, he wasn’t our buddy and bestest friend, but we had a tacit agreement — he makes nice and kissee up, we don’t whack him. I pity the fool who wants a similar deal in the future — they’re safer just staying our enemies.

    And in Iran’s case, I was referring to the Iranian Green Movement of 2009-2010, where Obama pointedly said and did exactly nothing.

    To further elaborate, I was also referring to Hezbollah and Syria triggering the Lebanese government’s January 2011 collapse — Hezbollah, of course, being the creature of Syria and Iran.


  16. Andyman says:


    I think you’re seriously overestimating the degree to which Obama is driving the events in any of these countries. Egypt happened more or less with or without us. The Libyan rebels might not have won without NATO but, again, I think the Libyan people took the initiative as opposed to Obama or Europe.

    You could make a good argument that the situation in Syria is similar, and superficially, it seems to me that it is. I’d guess that Obama’s reluctance to get involved in destabilizing the regime has to do with some combination of 1) the resistance is less organized or viable, and 2) they’re third in line in general and would be second in line for NATO. Waning appetite for intervention.

    If Obama had been making strategic decisions about which dictators to knock off and which to prop up, then I’d agree with you, he could certainly have done better than Egypt and Libya for a hit list. But these seem to be genuinely home-grown revolutions where the west is reacting to the extent that it’s capable.

    And, I’d forcefully argue, on balance they’re a very good thing for the Egyptians and the Libyans. And they’re something we shouldn’t be discouraging if we care about our reputation as promoters of freedom.

  17. Jay Tea says:

    @Andyman: I’m actually troubled by both revolutions, as in both cases the Muslim Brotherhood is angling for a dominant position — and so far, doing pretty well.

    I still don’t understand the rationale for the Libyan UnWar, and am seriously bothered how Obama resolved the War Powers Act by simply saying “it doesn’t apply here.” And in Egypt, there was no real reason for us to say we thought Mubarak should go.


  18. anjin-san says:

    he makes nice and kissee up, we don’t whack him

    Screw that. After the Lockerbie bombing, this asshole had a target on his forehead as far as I am concerned.

  19. Tlaloc says:

    She hates them for their freedom.


  20. Rick Almeida says:

    @Jay Tea:

    He [Khadaffi] gave up his WMDs

    Libya had WMDs?

  21. Tano says:

    It’s an odd position to take for Republicans…

    It is merely an example of the dynamic that is at play for most Republicans and conservatives.

    The starting point for any argument is the imperative to insult and criticize Obama and the Democrats – irrespective of the issue at hand, and whether their policy is actually good or not.

    Start with the insult – “weak”, “feckless”, “Jimmy Carter” etc. etc.Then construct a policy position that can propel the insult. Like….”the Arab spring happened because Obama is weak and feckless, just like Jimmy Carter”. And there ya go. Another plank in the platform.

    Thats what you get from a reactionary political movement.

  22. Andyman says:


    Unfortunately for secular interests, it seems that the Islamic groups are the more effective populists at the moment. Maybe it’s because we’ve been seen through the decades as being the backers of people like Qaddafi and Mubarrak. The west should be trying to out-compete the Islamic groups, advocating for liberal democracy and personal freedoms in these countries, not trying to stuff the genie back in the bottle by propping up strongmen.

  23. Jay Tea says:

    @Rick Almeida: OK, slight correction: a very advanced WMD program that no one knew about — until he called us up and said “come haul this away, will ya?”


  24. MM says:


    The right has really held on to this like a dog on a bone. Would that they were as concerned about women’s rights and safety issues here in the USA, where there are about 90K rapes a year. But of course the Logan case involves scary brown Muslims, so it is different

    Of course on the one hand they pretend to be concerned about Lara Logan, but when she was actually assaulted, I remember a lot of “can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen, lady” posts.

  25. Anyone remember when conservatives denounced Obama for not “supporting” the protesters in Iran? Or when conservatives denounced Obama for not supporting the rebels in Libya quickly enough? Or when conservatives said that Obama should bomb Syria to support the protesters there?

  26. mantis says:

    No, mantis, I meant Libya

    You did? So when you said that we should have fomented revolution there and taken a hands-off approach, you were serious? Do you not understand the contradiction there?

    And I would argue that it would have been more in the United States’ interest to foment regime change in Libya, Syria, and Iran, while taking a strict hands-off policy in Egypt and Libya.

    Anyway, you didn’t answer my question at all. How would we foment regime change in Syria and Iran? Invasion? Do you understand anything about those countries? What the hell are you talking about? You make no sense.

  27. Jay Tea says:

    @Timothy Watson: Yeah, I recall quite a few right-wing blogs posting the video of the murder of Neda Agha-Soltan and asking why the hell Obama wasn’t supporting the democratic movement in Iran, in words at least.

    Feel free to check it yourself. Hot Air, Ace Of Spades, and Jawa Report gave it extensive coverage, and we at Wizbang did, too. I was on my sabbatical at the time, but my colleagues did give it plenty of attention.

    As far as Libya, I freely admit that my own statements were, on the surface, muddled. But they were actually consistent. “We shouldn’t do it. But if we do, we should do it quickly, while the rebels have the initiative, and do it decisively. And Obama should either get it over within 90 days, or get Congress to sign off.”

    None of which actually happened. Oh, well.


  28. Jay Tea says:

    @mantis: Crap, I meant Lebanon in the “we should have acted.”

    It’s one thing when I mix up Iraq and Iran — they’re right next to each other, and are only one letter apart. But Libya and Lebanon… only two letters in common, and not even the same continent. My apologies.


  29. anjin-san says:

    Jay is correct, he is very consistent. Everything Obama does is wrong, and anything bad that happens is his fault. When something goes right Obama had nothing to do with it.

  30. Jay Tea says:

    @mantis: Now, as to the substance… we could have done the same sort of things we did with Egypt. We could have gone to the UN and seen if, for once, they actually wanted to do something semi-decent. Instead, we just officially ignored it.


  31. Rick Almeida says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Mustard gas is not a WMD.

    According to David Kay, who appeared before the US House Armed Services Committee to discuss these badly corroded munitions, they were leftovers, many years old, improperly stored or destroyed by the Iraqis. Charles Duelfer agreed, stating on NPR’s Talk of the Nation: “When I was running the ISG – the Iraq Survey Group – we had a couple of them that had been turned in to these IEDs, the improvised explosive devices. But they are local hazards. They are not a major, you know, weapon of mass destruction.”

    The question remains, are these all weapons of mass destruction? If we accept that nuclear weapons truly cause mass destruction and death, and we calibrate mass destruction against the hundred-thousand-odd fatalities that nuclear weapons can cause, are chemical and biological weapons commensurate? Clearly, chemical weapons are not in the same category as nuclear weapons. At most, an attack carried out under ideal climatic conditions would result in a few thousands of deaths.





  32. Jay Tea says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Thanks for the clarification. I know that he gave us all his nuclear stuff, including a lot of enriched uranium, but had lost track of the chemical crap.


  33. mantis says:

    We could have gone to the UN and seen if, for once, they actually wanted to do something semi-decent. Instead, we just officially ignored it.

    We don’t go publicly to the UN until support and/or cooperation has already been secured. Nobody but Israel wants to pick a fight with Iran, and even they don’t really want that. Ditto Syria. There are huge differences between Iran/Syria and Egypt/Libya. Our vocal support for either the Iranian or Syrian uprisings would not have helped the people in those countries in the slightest (and probably would have dramatically hurt their causes), but would have made things more difficult for the U.S. in the region. Material support would have been disastrous. What you’re advocating is a shoot-yourself-in-the-foot foreign policy. Thank FSM you have nothing to do with our actual foreign policy. And since you cannot even offer a reason why you think hands-off for the good opportunities and full support for the bad ones is the way we should have gone, there’s really no conclusion one can draw from your statements other than you support the opposite of what the president does, no matter what.

  34. anjin-san says:

    Well, no one is talking about Bachmann and her crazy ass remarks, so I think what we have here is a successful thread hijack.

  35. @Rick Almeida:

    As your own wikipedia link makes clear, while there is debate on whether chemical and radiological weapons should be considered WMD, they are generally covered by the term as it is currently use, both by custom internationally and by law in the US.

  36. matt says:

    @Jay Tea: There would be no quicker way to rally the Iranian people behind their corrupt leaders then to have the United States publicly provide material support to the green movement. Like I’ve told you time and time before the Iranians are still pissed at the US for all of our meddling in their country and the region. I have no doubt the USA provided some support but in doing so we treaded so carefully that few people know about it which is for the better as there would be a massive blowback if it was discovered we were meddling in their affairs again.

  37. casimir says:

    i don’t even know why outsidethebeltway.com wastes time on what that idiot says.

  38. anjin-san says:

    there would be a massive blowback if it was discovered we were meddling in their affairs

    I suspect that is the point. A foreign policy fiasco with Iran would give the Jay Tea’s of the world an excuse to shriek “Carter 2.0” at the top of their lungs.

  39. matt says:

    @anjin-san: I feel kind of stupid for not thinking of that angle. There’s good odds you’re correct.