Blame Obama’s amateurism for Mideast chaos
By Rabbi Michael Leo Samuel
CHULA VISTA, California –The streets of Europe and the Middle East are burning as we prepare ourselves for Rosh Hashanah.
Life in Israel is making everyone nervous as the President is doing nothing meaningful to prevent Iran from developing the bomb. One gets the impression that Iran will finally “cave in” if they cross the newest red line—and construct an actual bomb
Wait a minute, wasn’t our goal to prevent them from making a bomb?
The Jewish community needs to think about how other people regard President Obama’s foreign policy—which has been disastrous since the beginning of his reign as President. Although it is almost never fashionable to criticize President Obama’s foreign policy record, let me throw the gauntlet and point out that destabilization of the Middle East is largely due to the President’s hubris and his lack of experience.
Like the myth of Pandora, President Obama has opened a box of evils that are rapidly setting the civilized world on fire.
President Obama reminds me of a child trying to play chess, who doesn’t have the slightest idea what the chess pieces are and what they do. He has no concept of strategy; his style of play is both reckless and feckless.
One German newspaper editor made the following observations:
• US President Barack Obama’s Middle East policy is in ruins. Like no president before him, he tried to win over the Arab world. After some initial hesitation, he came out clearly on the side of the democratic revolutions. … In this context, he must accept the fact that he has snubbed old close allies such as Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Egyptian military. And now parts of the freed societies are turning against the country which helped bring them into being. Anti-Americanism in the Arab world has even increased to levels greater than in the Bush era. It’s a bitter outcome for Obama.”
• Obama was naive to believe that one only needed to adopt a new tone and show more respect in order to dispel deep-seated reservations about the free world. In practice, the policies of the Obama administration in the region were not as naive as they may have seemed at times, and the Americans have always been much more involved in the Middle East than the passive Europeans. But Washington has provided the image of a distracted superpower in the process of decline to the societies there. This image of weakness is being exploited by Salafists and al-Qaida, who are active in North Africa from Somalia to Mali.”
• “One thing is clear: If jihadists believe they can attack American installations and kill an ambassador on the anniversary of Sept. 11, then America’s deterrent power has declined considerably. For a superpower, it is not enough just to want to be loved. You have to scare the bad guys to keep them in check.”
President Obama had no business getting involved in the civil war of Libya in the first place. Gaddafi was certainly no boy scout; he is a man who has considerable blood on his hands. Yet, Gaddafi began to change and become a progressive force in the Arab world. On his own, he gave up his nuclear program. After he dismantled his country’s nuclear reactors (under the UN supervision), Time Magazine, NY Times, and other newspapers praised him. I swear, after reading the articles written about him, he almost seemed like a candidate for sainthood.
The Arab Spring proved to be Gaddafi’s undoing. And now, the Arab Spring has become an Arab Winter—or perhaps more accurately for the rest of the civilized world, an “Arab nightmare.”
Like many patriarchal societies in the Arab world, he had his share of enemies. Gaddafi warned his people and the world that Al Qaeda was fact a driving force alongside the Muslim Brotherhood in the conquest of Libya. But according to multiple eyewitnesses—one can now see both the Libyan rebel flag and the flag of al Qaeda fluttering atop Benghazi’s courthouse. Obama underestimated the power of al Qaeda, who is receiving continuous support from Iran—their bosom buddy.
In almost prophetic terms, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi warned that the region would be engulfed in chaos, spreading to Israel’s doorstep, if al-Qaeda takes control of his country. He said, “If al-Qaeda manages to seize Libya, then the entire region, up to Israel, will be at the prey of chaos,” he said in an interview with Turkey’s public TRT television channel. “The international community is now beginning to understand that we have to prevent Osama bin Laden from taking control of Libya and Africa,” (Dubai News, Mar 9th, 2011)
Like a true neophyte, President Obama did not think to realize that sometimes the devil you know is better than the one you don’t know.
Hosni Mubarak is also not a candidate for sainthood. Nevertheless, he accomplished something miraculous: he kept a peace treaty with Israel that lasted over 35 years. There is an old saying, “Sometimes the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.” In this case, however, we know exactly what the Muslim Brotherhood stands for and personifies.
Now, after applying considerable pressure on Mubarak of Egypt to resign, President Obama is quickly learning that no amount of flowery rhetoric about the civil rights of all citizens is going to convince the likes of the Muslim Brotherhood to adopt a Western-style democracy for its citizens. Women, gays, Coptic Christians and other minorities feel anxious—and for good reason—especially because of the new film on the life of Mohammed.
President Obama has contributed far more toward the destabilization of the Middle East than we have witnessed in the Clinton or Bush years. According to the Arab street, Bush was more respected than Obama is today.
By adding his political idealism to the mix, he has allowed the Al Qaeda to emerge more powerfully in the Arab world. All moderate Muslim countries are at risk; Israel is our country’s only reliable ally, but President Obama has relentlessly demonized Israel, while the American Jewish community remains asleep at the wheel. He is the first President to refer to Israel as an “Occupier of Arab lands . . .” and that East Jerusalem is also “Arab property.”
I hope the Rosh Hashanah shofar wakes us all up because the dangers are legion.
I am reminded about the story of an outlaw who went to the preacher, and he told the preacher, “You had better say something nice about my brother, (who also happened to be an outlaw); you’d better say he was a saint, or I will kill ya!” The preacher composed an original eulogy that was perfect for the occasion, “Jesse was a horse-thief, a bank-robber, an adulterer, and a cold-hearted murderer, but compared to his brother, Jesse was a real saint!” Compared to the chaos and destruction the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda are capable of unleashing, Mubarak and Gaddafi will eventually look like saints in comparison!
This old anecdote sums up the problem quite accurately. Let us pray that President Obama and his team refrain from making a toxic situation worse than what it actually is.
Rabbi Samuel is spiritual leader of Temple Beth Shalom in Chula Vista. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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