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Monday, October 31, 2011

What Bush Understood About The Middle East --Obama Still Doesn't Get

It was three years ago, America elected a president who was going to repair our relationship with the world, particularly the Muslim world, after eight years of that "cowboy" George "W" Bush. However three years into his Presidency, our "relationship repairer-in-chief" has presided over an increased divide between with the Muslim Middle East, and has tried to open up a divide with Israel, a nation who continues to be our most reliable ally in the region.

After three years of a slow presidential learning curve, there are still things about the Middle East George Bush understood and Obama doesn't get.

King Abdullah of Jordan, a long-time ally of the US told the Washington Post's Lally Weymouth that Obama has a lot to learn about being an ally, and seemed to indicate that the United States is no longer trusted in the Muslim Middle East:

Weymouth: It is astounding that Tantawi [head of Egypt’s military ruling council] did not take President Obama’s call for hours the night the Israelis were trapped in their embassy in Egypt.

Abdullah:The feeling I got from the Egyptian leadership is that if they stick [their] necks out, they will just get lambasted like [former president Hosni] Mubarak did. So I think they are playing safe by just keeping their heads down, which I think . . . sometimes allows things to get out of control. . . . Tantawi thinks there is too much pressure on him.

Weymouth: From the streets?

Abdullah: No, from the West.

Weymouth: Do you and other leaders in this area believe you cannot rely on the U.S.?

Abdullah: I think everybody is wary of dealing with the West. . . . Looking at how quickly people turned their backs on Mubarak, I would say that most people are going to try and go their own way. I think there is going to be less coordination with the West and therefore a chance of more misunderstandings. Egypt is trying to develop its own way of moving forward.
Obama never bothered to learn how the Middle East worked; rather he tried to impose his own vision upon the region. This vision led him to abandon long-time ally Hosni Mubarak at the first sign of trouble, and to attack Libya without Congressional or public support. In the case of Egypt there is a strong possibility Obama helped ease out a dictator in exchange for rule by the oppressive Muslim Brotherhood, and senior members of the new Libyan leadership are former members of al Qaeda.

Obama also came up with his own vision for Israel. He sees the Jewish State a satellite nation of the United States, which must conform to his one-sided vision of peace. On the other hand, the Bush and even the Clinton administrations saw Israel as a strategic ally on the front lines of the battle against Islamist terrorism.

Writing in the Los Angeles Times this week, Robert Blackwill, Deputy National Security Advisor under W. Bush and Walter Slocombe, Undersecretary of Defense under Clinton, laid out the strategic importance of Israel to America.
Today, Israeli contributions to U.S. national interests cover a broad spectrum. Through joint training, exercises and exchanges on military doctrine, the United States has benefited in the areas of counter-terrorism, intelligence and experience in urban warfare. Increasingly, U.S. homeland security and military agencies are turning to Israeli technology to solve some of their most vexing technical and strategic problems.

This support includes advice and expertise on behavioral screening techniques for airport security and acquisition of an Israeli-produced tactical radar system to enhance force protection. Israel has been a world leader in the development of unmanned aerial systems, both for intelligence collection and combat, and it has shared with the U.S. military the technology, the doctrine and its experience regarding these systems. Israel is also a global pacesetter in armored vehicle protection, defense against short-range rockets, and the techniques and procedures of robotics, all of which it has shared with the United States. (The full article is worth reading)
Three years into the Obama administration the Muslim Middle East is going to hell in a hand-basket, or as my friend and teacher Dr. Barry Rubin said:
On February 11, or October 23, or November 28, 2011, the Middle East entered a new era. Whether you date it to the fall of Mubarak, the Tunisian election, or the Egyptian election, what do you think is going to happen in the next half-century in the region? This is now — I call it officially — the Era of Revolutionary Islamism.
Unlike Bush, Obama does not seem to understand the strategic value of our most solid ally in the Middle East. Even worse than his lack of support for Israel, he sides with a Palestinian Government who does anything it can to avoid making peace.

Obama publically criticizes Israel, but when the PA was not responding to Israel’s ten-month-long freeze on building within existing settlements Obama was silent; in October 2009, when the PA rejected our President’s plea for intense talks to be held in Washington he was silent, and even last week when Mahmoud Abbas said I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I will never recognize the Jewishness of the state, or a 'Jewish state," Obama is silent

It has been three years since Barack Obama was elected the president who was going to "repair" our relationship with the world, instead he has hurt our relationship with our strongest allies in the Muslim Middle East and makes one-sided attacks on Israel, a strategic partner who has helped us with insights and technology to fight the war on terror.

Maybe George W. Bush could visit the White House And Give Obama some Middle East lessons.

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john said...

I hope your piece gets wide play in the media. Very well done

mdgiles said...

Why is everyone always surprised that Obama leans towards Muslims. He was raised among them, they were his childhood playmates. And the Muslims he was raised among were the comparatively "liberal" ones of Indonesia. He, no doubt, has trouble in his mind separating these Muslims from the more hard core, ultra pious, fundamentalist, Islamists of the Middle East. Also he may have picked up, even if unconsciously, the Islamic attitude toward Jews - which wasn't helped by being immersed in the anti Semitism often found among inner city blacks and on the political left.

Anonymous said...

The real issue with Libya and Egypt is that the latter is going to invade the former.

That is all but written in stone now and Obama simply doesn't have the credibility to forestall it or change it.

Libya is a pesthole that is going to continue sliding into a Somalia of the North Africa. Artificially united as a nation it is now devolving into it's constituent parts and will drive itself into a complete shambles.

But a shambles with oil resources and over $200 billion in cash.

Egypt on the other hand has an organized Army, significant need for resources of any kind and a desperate need for cash with which to feed itself.

And they both share a border.

Anonymous said...

That's a good summary, if you think Obama is just clueless. I don't. If you look at his foreign 'policies' as a whole, it is pure enabling... like a child buying booze for their alcoholic parent.
The return to totalitarian Islamic run states in the Middle East was his goal from the start.

Anonymous said...

Your article is far more detailed than it needs to be.
What Obama doesn't understand about the Middle East?
1. Islam
2. Arabs
3. Persians
4. Jews
5. History
6. Strength
7. Weakness
8. Allies
9. Enemies

Victor Erimita said...

Obama never bothered to learn how the Middle East worked; rather he tried to impose his own vision upon the region.

Obama has never bothered to learn much about America either. Or economics. Or much of anything else. He has learned the boilerplate rhetoric and broad conceptual cliches of movement socialism. And that's pretty much it. From that, and his conviction in his own personal awesomeness, he has imagined that he, a man who never accomplished a single concrete thing in his life, knew better than anyone else how to run the world.

The more scary fact, however, is that a majority of American voters did not see that in 2008. And that around 40% of them still don't. Neither they, nor Obama, seem capable of, or interested in, learning anything.