CHARLOTTE, N.C., April 21, 2015 – On April 5 two of the world’s great academic thinkers, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times and President Barack Obama, sat down for a lengthy taped interview concerning the Middle East. Obama’s “intellectual” views about the region have been seriously challenged domestically, but we rarely, if ever, hear what the other side is saying, and it isn’t pretty.
Waxing philosophically as he is prone to do, Obama told Friedman, “The biggest threats (the Gulf States) face may not be coming from Iran invading. It’s going to be from dissatisfaction inside their own countries.”
Obama went on to clarify the reasons for the tensions in the Middle East as being caused by “populations that, in some cases, are alienated, youth that are underemployed, an ideology that is destructive and nihilistic and in some cases, just a belief that there are no legitimate political outlets for grievances.”
We have heard all that before. It was incorrect then and it’s still wrong now. So much so that journalists in the Middle East were incredulous at Obama’s misunderstanding of the region and quickly responded.
The chief editor of the London daily newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Salman Aldossary, responded to Obama in his article “Does Obama Understand ‘Sunni Arabs?’”
Aldossary wrote, “Not only has (Barack Obama) turned over a new leaf with Tehran, he is even issuing statements on its behalf, going so far as to tell ‘Sunni Arabs’ that Tehran does not pose a threat to them and instead telling them to focus on ‘real internal threats.’
“Mr. President, no one denies there are challenges within Gulf societies that deserve to be addressed by their governments lest they escalate further… However, exaggerating those challenges to the degree of characterizing them as ‘(public) discontent’ and claiming that this represents a greater threat than Iran’s regional policy is an argument unworthy of the leader of the world’s most powerful country.”
Barack Obama has long believed the solution to everything is higher wages for low-income members of society. It is his panacea for virtually everything. Occasionally he alludes to the needs for better education, but in Obama-world, if everybody is equal, then nobody suffers regardless of their literacy.
Remember the early days when the liberal media marveled about how reflective the president was when dealing with difficult decisions? Columnist Elias Kharfoush termed Obama’s “thoughtfulness” as “being hesitant” and said as much in “Obama the Jurisprudent” in the London daily Al-Hayat.
“Once we used to think that Obama was hesitant, or that he had little knowledge of the crises in the region. But the long interview he gave Thomas Friedman confirms what we have feared, namely that Obama knows what he is doing and his decisions are not random, but are born of a comprehensive strategy which he formulated based on his personal view of our region, its countries and its people.
“What can be learned…is the degree to which Obama’s perception dovetails with the Iranian one. This proves that Obama is striving to reach an agreement with Iran about its nuclear program, in disregard of the interests and reservations of the Arab states…”
Kharfoush’s conclusions could just as easily have been reached by many Americans.
Another former editor of Al-Sharq Al-Aswat penned a column titled “Obama Is Always Wrong on the Middle East,” saying “Obama gambled, for years, on political Islam being a successful model in the region. This failed, of course, and the Islamist’s failure has had a long-lasting effect on the entire region following the so-called Arab Spring.
“Obama’s mistakes go beyond this, and we now see him making yet another one today. This misjudgment will have serious, adverse consequences for the Middle East.
“So, Obama thinks that the threat to the region is not Iran, but rather an absence of internal reform. This is simply wrong, and demonstrates worrying double standards.”
Finally, a past director of Al-Arabiya TV wrote a column called “Contradictions in Obama’s Doctrine,” in which he said, “I don’t know what books the American president reads before he goes to bed or how he understands the events of the past three decades. Tehran’s mentality and practices are close to those of Al-Qaeda: religious, fascist and hostile towards anyone who opposes their ideology. Tehran’s understanding of the world considers others as either believers or infidels. It is Iran that was responsible for much of the violence in the region under the banner of religion—and this was around 15 years before Al-Qaeda even emerged.”
It would be one thing if such harsh analyses were coming from domestic sources, but these commentaries only prove that Obama has incorrectly played both ends against middle.
One has to wonder how the “smartest man in the world” can be so wrong so often and not even know it.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of the Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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