Sunday, February 8, 2009

Obama's Middle East Stumble

By Alan Caruba

With every passing day, I am beginning to believe that President Obama lives in his own world, a kind of parallel universe to the real world. Speaking from Obama World, he is convinced that if enough kind and gentle words are spoken, he can personally change the Real World. He can’t.

What is required most of any President is the ability to understand history and to see the world as it is. As often as not, it has been war that has transformed history and there is a reason that the symbol on your dollar bill shows the eagle clutching emblems of peace and war in his talons. The left talons hold peaceful intentions, the right demonstrate our readiness for war.

It is understandable that Obama feels the way he does. He is the son of a white mother and a black, Kenyan father. His father, who deserted the family, was a Muslim and his step-father, an Indonesian, was a Muslim also. Obama says he’s a Christian and here again we find another example of how he perceives himself to be a bridge between two worlds in his own body and life.

He has, however, identified himself as black, so the white part of him, despite having been largely raised by his white grandparents, takes a back seat. Even so, he has succeeded beyond (or because) of his wildest dreams in a predominantly white society.

In his first interview with a media outlet as President, he chose Al-Arabiya and a message to the Muslim Middle East.

I am reminded of the saying, “Everything I ever needed to know about Islam, I learned on 9/11.” It was, for most Americans, their first real introduction to fundamentalist Islam, although three decades earlier, they got more than a taste of it when the Iranian Revolution took U.S. diplomats hostage in 1979. Islam is all about making war.

Even earlier, Americans witnessed the Arab response to the establishment of Israel in 1948 through one war after another on that nation. The Israelis’ recent response to constant shelling from Gaza was just another example of the utter intransigence of the Muslim mind after the Israelis had unilaterally withdrawn from there in 2005.

Obama’s message reeked of submission and weakness. It barely resembled the actual history between the United States and the Middle East and surely ignored its own wretched and violent history, even in the modern era.

In his excellent book, “Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East 1776 to the Present” by Michael B. Oren, he makes it abundantly clear that the Arabs of the Middle East and in North Africa were a problem from the very beginning of the new nation. “Prior to the Revolution, the only major threat to America’s vital Mediterranean trade came from the Middle East. Styling themselves as mujahideen—worriers in an Islamic, holy war—Arabic-speaking pirates preyed on Western vessels, impounding their cargoes and enslaving their crews.”

And today Muslim pirates ply their trade off the coast of Somalia! The birth of the first U.S. Navy and Marines was a military response to piracy that took them to “the shores of Tripoli.”

If Obama thinks that the Arab or Persian mindset has changed, he is mistaken. Not that long ago, Iranians took British troops hostage in the Persian Gulf and within days of his Al-Arabia interview Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was demanding that the U.S. apologize for what he deemed “crimes” against it, conveniently ignoring the fact that taking diplomats hostage broke any number of international laws. President Jimmy Carter’s equally weak response ended with the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan.

Another Iranian government spokesman, Gholam Hossein Etham, characterized Obama’s appearance as meaning that “Western ideology has become passive, that capitalist thought and the system of domination has failed.” There was a good and valid reason former President George W. Bush named Iran as part of an “axis of evil.”

If there is one thing those in the Middle East can spot half a globe away it is weakness and Obama’s interview told them everything they needed to know about the new U.S. President.

Thanks to Islam, much of the Middle East as well as parts of Africa continue to regard terror and violence as the only road to a new Caliphate that will rule over the world in the name of Islam.

There is no peace between the so-called Palestinians and Israelis, and never will be. The Syrians are still trying to retake Lebanon, using Hezbollah as theirs and Iran’s proxies, as they do with Hamas.

Pakistan, a Muslim state that barely passes for a nation is in turmoil and at odds with both Afghanistan and India. Some in Turkey are trying to return it to its Islamic roots after a successful history as a secular state. Iran’s leaders are all fanatics. Its people, however, appear to love America. Most Middle East and North African states are dictatorships in one form or another with the ironic exceptions of Israel and now Iraq!

The man who sits in the White House as the result of endlessly repeating the words “hope” and “change” is discovering that change is slow and often glacial. He’ll be running low on hope for the Middle East after the new, proposed influx of U.S. troops into Afghanistan begins to take casualties.

President Obama is off to a very bad start. Americans are going to need all the hope they can muster to survive the next four years.


Nonin Stone said...


While there are, I suppose, millions of blogs, most are devoted to parroting, without obvious demonstration that any of their writers understands the material they offer. Some blogs serve only to showcase their authors' wordsmithing skills ... or deficiencies.

I've stopped reading both of those types.

I limit myself to the blogs where I actually learn, if not new information, then information I already know from some different and interesting perspective. That's why your blogs have become regular stops in my online reading. Your writing is top-notch and neither information nor view is ever run of mill.

You are bookmarked right in there with (daily articles),,,, and my latest find, which is written by a Russian, Stanilav Mishin, who knows both the evils of Marxism, firsthand, and American history better than most Americans.

Thanks for your contribution to all of us and to America. Keep up the good work. We can still win this thing.

Alan Caruba said...

It is morning as I write and this was a wonderful way to start my day!

Thank you very much.