As Its Middle East Policy Crumbles, The Obama Administration’s Defense: It’s Not a Revolution, It’s a Video
September 20, 2012 - 11:12 am - by Barry Rubin
“You will not be able to stay home, brother,You will not be able to turn on, plug in, tune out….The revolution will not be televised….The revolution will be live.”–Gil Scott-Heron, “The Revolution will not be Televised
So now we have the answer of the “best and the brightest” expressed in the most explicit terms by American leaders and the mass media.
The problem in the Middle East is not mass revolutionary Islamist movements seeking to mobilize the masses, seize state power, expel U.S. influence, overthrow all non-radical regimes, wipe Israel off the map, and transform their own societies through Sharia dictatorships, despite the fact that they have been working on this project for a very long time and discussed it openly in thousands of articles, speeches, rallies, terrorist attacks, and other actions.
Oh, no, the problem is that a guy in California made a video on YouTube that nobody ever saw. Therefore the main task is to apologize, explain, and keep trying to make friends with the ideologically determined revolutionary Islamists who take each concession as help toward their winning and see every American vacillation as a weakness that urges them toward more aggression. These are people who never lack an excuse to kill you.
Here’s how it looks from the Arab world on the specific issue of Libya: George W. Bush occupied Iraq; Barack H. Obama occupied Libya. Obama has added to the long list of complaints about a supposedly imperial America.
At this point, we have gone far beyond not being able to take the Obama administration and the media/intellectual ruling elite seriously. They act as if Middle East history began last week. They act as if Middle Easterners have no politics or ideology but are merely mirrors (what a racist concept!) reflecting back what the West does. They have no interest in examining the actual evidence. Certainly, there are those in this Western elite driven by their own ideology, hidden agenda, and interests to spout such nonsense. What can we say of those who believe them? Well, the latter have no direct experience with the region or its people; they still give credibility to what the mass media says. They have no memory because they are concerned about other things, closer to home.
Nevertheless, they might notice that it has been the proudest claim of President Barack Obama throughout his term that he made the United States popular again. That claim is now in tatters, though no one has pointed it out systematically in the mass media.
It has been an assertion that Obama’s show of respect for Islam from the Cairo speech, his courting of Turkey’s stealth Islamist regime, the assigning of NASA the job of soothing Muslim self-regard over science, and a hundred other things brought some result beneficial to the United States. One aspect of this strategy — as he openly told a visiting Jewish delegation to the White House — was his distancing America from Israel. This claim is also in tatters.
The claim of Obama’s great foreign policy success is in tatters.
Killing Osama bin Laden? A worthy action but one which made the jihadists — even those who never followed bin Laden — angry.
Putting the Muslim Brotherhood into power in Egypt? Obama himself admitted that the most important Arab state is no longer a U.S. ally.
Changing the regime in Libya? But now terrorists and revolutionaries view the government there as an American puppet and so they must kill Americans — the ambassador being the very symbol of the U.S. “protectorate” over Libya — to boost themselves into power. Obama doesn’t get this and so will not be ready for the fact that there will now be endless attacks on Americans and U.S. institutions in Libya as the jihadists seek to overthrow the government. This is only the beginning of a new war and a new Arab grievance. George W. Bush occupied Iraq; Barack H. Obama occupied Libya.
Concessions and groveling, of course, were attributed to weakness, as speech after speech by Islamist leaders said in Arabic, but the U.S. government leaders didn’t understand and few journalists in the mass media explained.
And to overwhelm and make all of these collapsing pillars disappear, we are given some pitiful California criminal who made an unseen YouTube video as the cause of all America’s problems in the Middle East.
Do you know the real reason why these Middle East militants hate America? Because it stands in the way of their utopian dream of Sharia revolution in their own country and its spread to the whole region (or, for the wilder-thinking ones, the whole world). This parallels the hatred of the USSR, Nazi Germany, and Imperial Japan for the United States: they want to conquer huge areas, and the United States is the only force that might stop them.
Nothing America does — except explicitly betray its local allies and put the Islamists into power — might conceivably slow down that hatred. And guess what? Egypt proves that even doing such a thing doesn’t work!
Why were Americans attacked in Libya, a fact that seemed to bewilder Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? Because the United States, as in Iraq and Afghanistan, did not put revolutionary Islamists into power there. To get into power, the revolutionary Islamists must overthrow the U.S.-backed regime. That has long been a factor regarding Israel. It was the core issue for Osama bin Laden regarding Saudi Arabia. And of course it was the motivation of the Iranian revolution.
In other places, where Islamists are already in power (Iran, the Gaza Strip, Egypt, and — more subtly — Turkey), anti-Americanism gets the masses worked up to support the rulers, reject Western civilization, believe Islam is under threat from foreign conspiracies, and thus support the regime. The Arab nationalists were playing the exact same game since the mid-1950s.
These people aren’t film critics, they are revolutionaries. And, frankly, by this point, we are down to two possibilities. Either Obama will lose in November and a new president will have the difficult task of reversing all of this damage, or Obama will be reelected, in which case there will be nothing left of the U.S. position in the region by the end of his term.