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Works and Days

Obama’s Middle East Delusions

September 17th, 2012 - 12:00 am

The entire subtext of Obama’s outreach narratives (made explicitly in his al Arabiya interview) is that his own unique pedigree and worldview have exempted him from American pathologies and thus culpability for them. In the alternate brain chemistry of the Obamites, there is no contradiction between worldwide Islamist vows to kill our diplomats or burn embassies and Obama’s much-vaunted boasts of restoring American popularity abroad. The derangement goes like this: those who hate America are mistakenly still mad at the old Bush America and have not yet evolved to duly appreciate the new Obama America. In other words, the vestiges of right-wing extremism still confuses those abroad, who have not yet caught on that America is on their side.

In the present case, bewildered press secretary Tim Carney essentially said just that: that when protestors burn flags, kill Americans, and destroy icons of American power, they aren’t really mad at us, Obama, the White House, or American foreign policy. Instead, they are just confused over disgusting Terry Jones and a reprehensible handful of Copts:

We also need to understand that this is a fairly volatile situation and it is in response not to United States policy, and not to, obviously, the administration, or the American people, but it is in response to a video, a film that we have judged to be reprehensible and disgusting. That in no way justifies any violent reaction to it, but this is not a case of protests directed at the United States writ large or at U.S. policy, this is in response to a video that is offensive to Muslims.

“Not…directed at the United States” — perhaps tell that to Ambassador Stevens as he suffocated to death.

4. What Must Muslims Do?

It is not brain surgery to enter the modern world. Follow some South Koreans or Chileans around for a week with a video camera. Grow up and stop blaming those on whom you depend for everything from drilling bits to laptops. Adopt the now seemingly impossible: consensual government, a bill of rights, secular tolerance for religious diversity, gender equality, meritocracy, respect for science and empiricism, a free market, and a free press. In other words, join the 21st century.

Otherwise, Westerners must make themselves as immune from Middle East passions as is possible. In that context, not tapping vast new domestic finds of gas and oil on public lands is suicidal, given that such potential income and independence would soon make the Gulf irrelevant to our survival.  Let the Kuwaitis or the Iranians deal with the Chinese. Of course, elites warn us not to “overreact.” But overreacting, compared to the present radical appeasement, is the moderate, rational course.

A good start, then, would be very quietly to start trimming aid at about $100 million every month, and quite coolly rejecting visas from the Middle East (putting thousands of future Mr. Morsis on hold). We can put travel restrictions on the Middle East, and ask the Egyptian ambassador to go home for a month or so to think things over and see whether he really wishes to protect our embassy. Elites shriek, “Oh, but you’ll only isolate Morsi and alienate the moderates.” Perhaps, but we might also remind them that American friendship is based on reciprocity and must be earned rather than assumed. How odd that the only good thing that either Mr. Obama or Mrs. Clinton has said throughout this depressing spectacle was Obama’s flub that he didn’t quite know whether Egypt, the recipient of over $1 billion in annual U.S. cash, was an ally or enemy. So only by accident does he make the Muslim Brotherhood government a tiny bit unsure of exactly how we feel or what we might do.

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