Stratfor on Obama’s Mideast illusions

Howard Sutherland writes: has an interesting essay today by George Friedman, “Obama and the Arab Spring.” Friedman contends that Barack Hussein Obama and his advisors—along with their strange new neoconservative bedfellows re matters Middle Eastern—have badly misjudged the “Arab Spring” by presuming that unrest in Egypt and elsewhere may actually lead to democratic governments. Friedman seems to think the least likely result in any of the convulsed Arab countries is something Westerners would recognize as a participatory democracy; he questions whether such a thing is achievable at all in any Arab country. Indeed, Friedman questions whether the Arab Spring is not simply an illusion. That tallies with the view of VFR and its many fans, I think.

Friedman also says that Obama knew even before he said it that he would be backing down from his statement about Israel’s needing to accept the 1949 cease-fire lines (a.k.a. “the pre-1967 borders”) as her borders; Obama planted that rhetorical flag to play to the Arabs as he tries to hold together the fraying “coalition of the willing” that the GW Bush administration pulled together for Afghanistan and Iraq. Friedman points out that Obama’s apparent strategy, such as it is, creates great risks for American power and alliances in the Middle East. Friedman says nothing about Obama’s underlying motivations, not surprisingly, and so does not entertain the possibility that Obama might be quite content to see American power and influence in the Middle East—and the Moslem world generally—greatly reduced. Obama does not have much of a history of viewing America as a power for good in the world, to say the least.

Friedman tacitly acknowledges the role of Islam, but he doesn’t come to grips with its full importance, especially its relevance to whether Moslem Arabs are ever likely to believe the State of Israel has any right to exist in the first place. Nevertheless, I think the best thing Friedman says in his essay is this:

Even if by some extraordinary evolution the Middle East became a genuine democracy, it is the ultimate arrogance to assume that a Muslim country would choose to be allied with the United States. Maybe it would, but Obama and the neoconservatives can’t know that.

That about sums it up! HRS

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 24, 2011 12:09 PM | Send

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