Muammar Qaddafi has scored so many loony tunes as Libyan despot that his recent musings about love and expectations from “our American Kenyan brother Obama” could be tossed into that same loony bin — except that it is widely shared out there in the world beyond Libya.
The happenstance of Senator Obama’s skin color, his Muslim father, and his middle name of Hussein have led millions, most especially in the Arab world, to think of him as a “brother,” from whom much is expected as leader of the U.S.
True, Mr. Obama’s cultural diversity is hugely beneficial to the U.S. image as a melting pot and much more. That an African-American, Harvard-educated man of opulent origins emerges as potential leader of the U.S. speaks volumes. Where else can millions of voters make such a resoundingly liberating choice free of the tribalism, xenophobia, and bias tearing at much of the world?
But frothing phantasms over how Mr. Obama’s “imagined persona” — as a Muslim or a third world person — are already crowding this view, fanning out of the airwaves of Al-Jazeera TV into effervescent Arab websites and public opinion polls, all murmuring about miraculous turnabouts and new alliances.
An Obama administration shall deliver a free Palestine, a defanged Israel liberated enough of its Jewishness to welcome millions of returning Muslim Palestinians, instant friendship with Iran’s mullahs, a handover of the Golan Heights, and prompt departure from Iraq.
Mr. Obama needs to burst these bubbles, as none of this is likely.
The U.S. bonds with Israel transcend any administration and the ascending Islamism of the past decade has become an existential challenge to Western civilization, of which the U.S. is guarantor. That fight is Obama’s as well as McCain’s and that of all future American leaders.
The Obama transformation fantasy has spread within America’s estimated ten million Muslims and the approximately 110 million of Europe, when you count Turkey too.
There a growing expectation hovers that his “humanitarian and multicultural” penchants shall finally swing behind the desired option for Muslims to spin out of secular society and live in a separate world of Sharia laws.
This dream of a freewheeling Muslim universe in Western societies of an Obama era is plastered all over literature and advocacy by a myriad of Islamist groups including CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations in the U.S., and the various Muslim Brotherhood derivatives of the UK, Holland, Belgium, France, and Australia, all pregnant with mini-legislation for schools, mosques, holidays, and a world of separateness — all tucked under a new protective umbrella of a different America.
Saudi Arabian pundits firmly predict an Obama administration that will facilitate a virtual free pass on Wahhabi-style schooling, as with its mushrooming Virginia academy.
The growing fixation on an Obama “dawn” spills out in more sinister ways too.
Despite Mr. Obama’s protestations of his Christian faith, enraged crazies on Islamist websites such as those of the Muslim Brotherhood and others are warning him against committing apostasy, as in abandoning the Muslim faith of his father. There are no ex-Muslims in Sharia law, only dead ones.
All of it is enough to half-jokingly wonder, when President Obama meets President Ahmadinejad of Iran or King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, whether these leaders would shake his hand or cut off his head.
Mr. Obama has not helped matters with interviews such as that published by the Atlantic Magazine, where he said: “It’s conceivable that there are those in the Arab world who say to themselves, ‘This is a guy who spent some time in the Muslim world, has a middle name of Hussein, and appears more worldly and has called for talks with people, and so he’s not going to be engaging in the same sort of cowboy diplomacy as George Bush'” — then, pointedly adding: “that’s a perfectly legitimate perception.”
Actually it sounds like a wink to those who expect a lot more and it wasn’t missed by Gaza Hamas official Ahmed Yousef, who exclaimed to WABC radio: “We like Mr. Obama” and “we hope that he will win the election.”
The world is much bigger than its 1.2 billion Muslims. Yet 80 percent of U.S. crisis management — from Iraq, to Afghanistan, to the Arab-Israeli conflict and Iran — is deeply mired in Islamic issues.
The bottom line is that both Barack Obama and John McCain need to address this overriding obsession of the Muslim world with us, and vice versa, forthrightly. That’s because it will not be possible in this century to avoid dealing with the contours of Islam, political Islam, and Islamism, and what they shall throw our way.