Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Obama on His Own Middle East Record: Zero Percent Success

This article is published on PJMedia.

“You’re not listening to what the people who are fighting you say about this fight. In your arrogance, you think you write the script.” Lara Logan, CBS News, on Obama's Middle East policy  

By Barry Rubin

A few days before taking office, on January 15, 2009, Barack Obama gave an interview to CBS News and explained his Middle East policy:

“We're gonna have to take a regional approach. We're gonna have to involve Syria in discussions. We're gonna have to engage Iran in ways that we have not before. We've gotta have a clear bottom line that Israel's security is paramount. But that also we have to create a two-state solution where people can live side by side in peace."

The pro-Syria policy, despite that regime’s repressive and anti-American nature, failed. The Obama Administration’s proposed solution now is to replace that regime with one that’s likely to be a revolutionary Islamist anti-American regime.

The pro-Iran policy failed. The Obama Administration’s proposed solution now is to have tough sanctions—which is good—but then to insist that this will solve the problem and not to deal with the inevitable outcome of Iran getting nuclear weapons, not to mention Tehran’s continuing subversion and backing for terrorism. 

The Obama Administration is eager to make a deal with Tehran and if the Iranian leaders were only a bit more flexible they could probably get a diplomatic arrangements with that U.S. government that would give them much of what they want. As so often has happened in the Middle East it is only the radicals' intransigence which prevents them from gaining appeasement from the West.

The “peace process” policy failed. And this administration has done more to undermine Israel’s security than all the previous presidencies put together. The problems include: pushing Israel to ease the pressure on Hamas in the Gaza Strip; helping a genocide-oriented anti-Israel government into power in Egypt; same thing in Syria; making America’s leading ally in the region a Turkish regime that was viciously anti-Israel; and more.

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An American reader writes me, “I've tried explaining the situation in the Middle East to friends and there are blank stares. I believe what they're thinking is that how come, if it is so bad, I haven't seen in the newspapers or on the national news?  The New York Times doesn't mention it at all.”

This is an accurate description of what a very large portion—a majority?—of Americans think. The same point applies to the economy (media explanation: it’s getting better) and many other issues. The coming election is, among other things, going to be a test of how much of a hold the mass media has on people.

Of course, the newspapers and television news do report a lot about bad things in the Middle East. The ambassador to Libya was murdered and hatred of America is rampant (official and media explanation: if not for that video everything will be fine); Iran is moving ahead on nuclear weapons (official and media explanation: sanctions will stop them, Obama will offer a deal, something will turn up); Egypt is ruled by radical Islamists who have openly backed terrorism against Americans, demanded genocide against Israel, and seek to overthrow of all Arab governments allied to the United States (official and media explanation: they’re really moderate), and so on.

In other words, bad developments are sometimes reported though there is an attempt to explain it away. This does leave some margin for readers and viewers to use their brains. Are these explanations credible? Why do things keep getting worse? If Obama is such a big supporter of Israel why does he keep subverting its interests? If Obama has made people in the region love America why do they keep hating America?
Come to think of it, if Obama is such a big supporter of America why does he keep subverting U.S. interests?

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest book, Israel: An Introduction, has just been published by Yale University Press. Other recent books include The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center  and of his blog, Rubin Reports. His original articles are published at PJMedia.

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