President Barack Obama said Tuesday that he'd told U.S. allies as well as foes in the Middle East that they must "get out ahead of" growing demands for reform, or risk the fates of the deposed presidents of Egypt and Tunisia.
As an unprecedented wave of street protests continued to spread, notably in the strategic Persian Gulf kingdom of Bahrain, Obama used a news conference to lay down the first outlines of a broader U.S. response, now that it seems clear that the turmoil will extend well beyond the 18-day revolution that toppled Egypt's Hosni Mubarak.
He defended his handling of Mubarak's downfall, acknowledged that prospects for Arab-Israeli peace talks could be complicated and had tough words for Iran's leaders, who've responded harshly to a reborn protest movement in that country.
The "new posture" stated simply - - if you are a pro American but authoritarian friend and ally, Obama will withdraw support and encourage your overthrow. But, if you are a brutal anti American dictatorship - - Syria, Libya, Iran - - Obama will extend the hand of friendship.
With this policy, in 12 months, we will have few if any friends left in the Mideast.