Blindness in Washington / Op-ed: Obama clueless about Mideastern realities, wanted to change region with words (YNetNews.Com -Yedioth Internet) Yoaz Hendel Published: 06.29.12, 00:44)
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"A new beginning," this is how President Barack Obama dubbed his
constitutive speech at Cairo University on June 4th, 2009. A proper
name for his next address there would be "an old, familiar ending."
President Obama’s foreign policy has been an utter failure since he
was elected and entered the White House. Peace had not arrived, Islam
had not moved closer to the West, and the radicals gained strength
and toppled the moderates.
Egypt, which was a symbol of possibility in the Middle East, has
become a symbol of the impossible towards the end of Obama’s first
term in office – a tangible demonstration of lacking diplomatic
understanding and its fateful consequences.
President Obama is, more than anything, the hero of a tragedy he
created with his own hands. He truly believed in his election slogan
and in his ability to lead the world toward a new dawn from the Cairo
podium. Obama believed that through the power of words and pressure
on Israel, this dry regional desert will give rise to democracy,
human rights and peace. In short, he believed, instead of studying
At the beginning of February 2011, top US intelligence officials
arrived for a Senate hearing. The first to offer a report on the
situation in Egypt was Director of National Intelligence James
Clapper, who displayed stunning ignorance when claiming that the
Muslim Brotherhood movement is mostly secular. Later, he had to issue
an unusual correction for this statement.
A week later, CIA Chief Leon Panetta also had trouble defining the
Islamist organization as radical. The words these officials uttered
were the result of a policy that failed to understand reality. The
spirit of the US commander-in-chief turned into blindness.
Obama is not the first to be afflicted by the Mideast syndrome,
whereby utopian dreams of Biblical peace will materialize if only
Israel shows a little flexibility. The bodies of these mistaken
individuals are piling up here at a dizzying pace. The rate of
building monuments for peace talks and agreements is no less
After all, who doesn’t want peace? Who doesn’t want a new dawn where
former foes drink coffee and eat hummus together, instead of bearing
Three years have passed since that Cairo speech, and at the White
House too officials are seeing how the dawn pledged by Obama is
dissipating and turning into the darkness of the burqa. Even there
they see how democratization has turned into Islamization and how the
house of cards built by Obama has collapsed, leaving only dangerous
dust in its wake.
The mirror effect
The explanation to this has to do with the mirror effect. Obama
looked at the Islamic world and thought he was seeing himself. He was
convinced that their way of thinking and desires are similar. He
thought that the ignorant masses can be persuaded to live a better,
freer life with respect for women and minorities, exactly as he would
want it to be.
Obama attempted to press Israel because he thought this was merely a
dispute about territory and national honor. He failed to understand
the basis of the gap; the cultural-religious abyss that cannot be
bridged with slogans and a good speech.
In Israel’s context, there is no choice but to admit that Ehud Barak –
the man we love to hate both in the Left and Right – was right. We
are a villa in the jungle. Around us we see Syrians who butcher women
and children indiscriminately. The Shiite Hezbollah dominates
Lebanon, a small Hashemite tribe in Jordan rules over millions of
Palestinians using force, Hamas rules Gaza, and now we also have a
fundamentalist Muslim regime in Egypt.
Muslims massacre Muslims all the time, with no respite, the voice of
progress is being silenced, primitivism runs wild, and the rulers who
understand reality well choose survival over education. It may not be
politically correct, but it’s true.
And so, new peace hopes are important, yet regrettably, the Middle
East has remained old, just the way we know it. (Copyright 2012 ©
Yedioth Internet 06/29/12)
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