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September 16, 2012 3:55 am

The Middle East Believes in American Weakness

avatar by Arik Elman

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Armed man stands outside U.S. Consulate in Libya as it burns. Photo: Twitter.

In the tragedy of death and mayhem which on September 11 engulfed the smoking ruins of what was, before Obama, the American position in the Middle East, there was one moment when every citizen of the free world, American or not, must have felt a pang of acute embarrassment. It was when Hillary Clinton mounted the podium at the State Department, flapping like a fish out of water, staring into space and asking helplessly: “How could it happen in a country we helped liberate?”

The question itself, and the speedy whitewash of the “Libyan people and government” that followed, indicated to viewers worldwide just how deep delusion runs in the current American administration. Since June 2009, when in his Cairo speech President Obama gave a green light to the legitimization of Islam as a unifying political force at the Middle East, the silly question about his religious affiliation has been rendered obsolete. Christian or atheist, Barack Obama will go down in history as a leader who did more for political Islam than any historical personage since Suleiman the Magnificent. In pursuit of a dream of “mending fences” between the greatest liberal democracy on Earth and the millions of followers of the most intolerant of Earth’s religions, Obama treated the Islamic forces which emerged from the cracks of Arab secular dictatorships as the only authentic expression of the true will of the people.

Making common cause with the Turkish Islamist Recep Erdogan, who under the umbrella of Obama’s benevolence is busy undoing the props of the Turkish secular state one by one, the administration not only invested in the speedy demise of secular autocrats – it actually worked to make the “Arab Spring” safe for the Muslim Brotherhood everywhere. When the concerned allies, among then Benjamin Netanyahu, were trying to point out that “in this way madness lay”, those warnings were first met with scorn (Netanyahu was practically crucified by the American liberal press which mindlessly recycled accusations of the White House that the Israeli leader is “panicking”). After the Israeli prognosis of the rapid spread of Islamism all over the region were 100% vindicated by reality, the tune in Washington switched to emphasizing the “pragmatism” of newly-empowered Islamic rulers. Surely they won’t do anything stupid – such as going to war against Israel, tolerating the presence of armed extremists on their soil or, say, preventing the police from acting against the rioters who ransack the embassy in Cairo and consulate in Benghazi? Oh, wait…

Caught in its ideology of appeasement, the Obama administration seems unable to stop genuflecting to the worst aspects of the collective Muslim mind. The ease with which Washington is prepared to discard most sacred principles of human freedom (real freedom, not the Muslim Brotherhood variety) is simply astonishing. While Obama flaks in the American press were still beating on Mitt Romney for linking the President to the “unauthorized” apology for the anti-Muslim video issued from the embassy in Cairo, the administration itself was busy leaning on Google, trying to force the American company to take the offending clips off YouTube. Muslim (especially Palestinian) preachers and websites are attacking the Christians and the Jews every day in a ways that are much more vitriolic and deranged than the “Innocence of Muslims”, and the right to recite well-known facts about Muhammad – that he was a highway robber, a murderer, a sadist, that he married a 9-year-old girl and promised his followers Paradise choke-full with virgins and boys – cannot be denied by the threat of mob violence. The manifest reluctance of the Obama administration to discipline the very regimes that it helped bring to power is a crucial factor in the region where facts mean little and perception is everything.

This brings us to the Iranian problem. Right now, it doesn’t really matter if Obama intends to make good on his promise not to allow the ayatollahs their nuclear prize. What matters is that Tehran doesn’t believe him. The question Iranian rulers ask themselves must be remarkably similar to the one Netanyahu asks in Jerusalem: “If Obama knows that we are building new centrifuges non-stop and moving our enrichment facilities deep underground, if he understands that we use any attempt to engage us only to gain more time, if he read the IAEA reports which practically accuse us of lying about the goals of our nuclear effort, if he follows our escalating anti-Israeli rhetoric – what is he waiting for?” In keeping with the history of such attempts, the economic sanctions which Obama is so proud of are hurting the average Iranian and miss the regime almost completely. It will take more than some shortages to get Iranians to rise – especially when they are still smarting from the beating they got in 2009, while the current administration did nothing.

By refusing to commit to any meaningful red line which will trigger American military action, by leaking information which is then used by the anti-government Israeli press to undermine the Prime Minister and to sow discord in the nation faced with the gravest threat to its very survival, by insisting that the situation still leaves much room for diplomacy, Obama, Clinton and Panetta broadcast to Tehran and Jerusalem alike their true state of mind, perfectly expressed by General Dempsey. Indeed, Washington has no intention to be caught “complicit” in the Israeli policy of actually stopping Iran. Obama may talk prevention, but he clearly walks the walk of containment, and you don’t have to be a conspiracy theory buff to believe there’s nothing incidental in New York Times’ Bill Keller’s sudden jihad for nuclear Iran. Is Netanyahu so wrong in doubting that Obama’s commitment will survive past November 6th?

Time after time, Obama surrogates declare that the refusal to introduce “the red lines” provides the White House with “freedom of maneuver”. Looking from Israel, this sounds suspiciously like a freedom to abandon your Jewish ally at any given moment, to wriggle out of any verbal obligation, or maybe to try, in the best tradition of Chicago politics, to extort concessions from Netanyahu on the Palestinian front – after all, the Jerusalem-refugees fiasco at the Democratic National Convention gave ample proof to those who fear that in his second term, Barack Obama will attempt to finish what he started in 2009, but was forced to abandon in 2010 after the midterm elections showcased the lack of support among the American people for his Israel-baiting policies.

The assault on symbols of America in Libya, Egypt, Tunis and Yemen is not an expression of “rage” against some random anti-Islamic act. It was carefully orchestrated by Arab media controlled by the Islamic extremists, with one clear purpose – to show the United States that it has no influence in the countries it “helped to liberate”, to quote Secretary Clinton. If the Salafis get what they want, the future of the whole region, the security of Israel and American national interest will be damaged beyond repair. More and more, the Middle East of today believes in American weakness. This belief must not stand.

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