Middle East studies in the News
Our World: Obama the Savior
Speaking in February of the man she knows better than anyone else does, Michelle Obama said that her husband, Illinois Senator and candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination Barack Obama, is the only candidate for president who understands that before America can solve its problems, Americans have to fix their "broken souls."
She also said that her husband's unique understanding of the state of souls of the American people makes him uniquely qualified to be President. Obama can do what his opponent in the Democratic race Senator Hillary Clinton, and Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, cannot do. He can heal his countrymen's broken souls. He will redeem them.
But then, saving souls is hard work, and Mrs. Obama won't place the whole burden on her husband. He'll make the Americans work for him. As she put it, "Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zone. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed."
At base, Mrs. Obama's statement is nothing less than a renunciation of democracy and an embrace of fascism. The basic idea of liberty is that people have a natural right to live their lives as usual and to be uninvolved and uninformed. And they certainly have a right to expect that their government will butt out of their souls.
IN CONTRAST, fascist societies, as Jonah Goldberg notes in the latest issue of National Review, are all about the notions of "unity" and "change" and melding our broken souls into a fixed, united will for change that Obama has made the core theme of his campaign. Goldberg compared "unity" with "patriotism," and explained that while the latter connotes the willingness to defend the moral values of a society, unity is bereft of any moral content. "The only value of unity is strength, strength in numbers - and... that is a fascist value. That's the symbolism of the fasces, the bundle of sticks that in combination are invincible."
Many commentators have argued that Jews in both Israel and the US have a specific reason to fear an Obama presidency. Much attention has been paid to Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the anti-Semitic, black supremacist preacher who has served as Obama's spiritual guide for the past 20 years. Then too, there are Obama's foreign policy advisors who range from the viscerally hostile towards Israel (Zbigniew Brzezinski, Robert Malley, Samantha Power, Merrill Tony McPeak) to the messianically hostile towards Israel (Dan Kurtzer). Obama's close associations with Palestinian and pan-Arab champions and jihad apologists like the late Edward Said and Prof. Rashid Khalidi, and his stated intention to have open negotiations with Iran about the mullocracy's nuclear weapons program, his monetary ties to anti-Israel donors like George Soros and to anti-Israel organizations like Moveon.org are similarly pointed to as reasons for concern.
But the fact is that for all his associations with Israel-bashers, Obama's stated positions on the Palestinian and Arab conflict with Israel are all but indistinguishable from those of his opponent Senator Hillary Clinton. Both democratic candidates assert that the Palestinian conflict with Israel is the root of the pathologies of the Arab world. Like President George W. Bush, both embrace the Fatah terror group as a legitimate organization and acceptable repository of Palestinian sovereignty. Both have hinted that they may be willing to open negotiations with Hamas. Both argue that the establishment of a Palestinian state will be a key foreign policy objective of their administrations.
While Sen. Clinton rejects Obama's desire to openly appease the Iran's mullahs, her announced strategy for contending with the specter of a nuclear-armed Iran would not necessarily be more effective than Obama's plan to appease the ayatollahs. Last week, Clinton explained that she believes that the US's position on Iran should be based on a credible threat of "massive retaliation" in the event that the mullocracy develops and uses nuclear weapons.
THERE ARE two reasons that a deterrence model will be as ineffective in curbing Iranian aggression as Obama's appeasement model. First, as last week's 25th anniversary of the Iranian-sponsored bombing of the US embassy in Beirut recalled, Iran has been attacking the US and its allies both directly and through proxies since 1979. To date, not only has the US failed to deter such attacks, it has never made Iran pay a price for them. With this abysmal track record against a non-nuclear Iran, it is hard to see how the US can threaten a nuclear-armed Iran with sufficient credibility to make a deterrence-based strategy successful.
The second reason that basing US policy towards Iran on a deterrence model will likely fail is because Iran's leadership has made clear that is not necessarily concerned about the survivability of Iran. From Ayatollah Khomeini to Ayatollah Khamenei to Ali Rafsanjani to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's leadership has made clear that they are not Iranian patriots but global Islamic revolutionaries. Given their millenarian, apocalyptic view of their country's purpose in world affairs, there is good reason to believe that a strategy based on some form of mutually assured destruction would have only marginal impact on Iran's decision-makers.
So from a foreign policy perspective, there is little to distinguish Sen. Clinton from Sen. Obama. Indeed, there is little that distinguishes the two candidates from a domestic policy perspective. But that gets us back to the messianic business.
OPPONENTS OF Clinton claim that she is a soulless woman who will do whatever is necessary to have power, because she likes power and wants it. But if this is true it is hard to see why a power-hungry president is worse than a president who believes that he is the people's redeemer. It is hard to see why a leader who wants power because she likes power is less reasonable than a president who thinks he has a right to demand that the American people follow his lead and fix their souls in the name of unity. In the former case, opposition to the leader is a policy dispute. In the latter case, it is apostasy.
When someone wants power for power's sake, that person tends to be fairly pragmatic. In his first term of office, when former president Bill Clinton - another consummate pragmatist who liked having power - understood his wife's healthcare plan was about to be defeated overwhelmingly by Congress, he shelved the plan and cut his losses.
A messianic wouldn't do that. When a messianic leader is faced with failure, his tendency is to castigate the people, or his political opposition, or the media as evil and to continue on unmoved and bring his country down with him. President Woodrow Wilson's unpopular and unsuccessful championing of US membership in the League of Nations and former president Jimmy Carter's wooing of American enemies in the name of peace are examples of what happens when messianic redeemer types are confronted with reality.
So with this distinction between the two senators in mind, the question is, how will a President Hillary Clinton or a President Barack Obama respond after being shown that appeasement of the Palestinians has once again failed and that appeasement or deterrence of the Iranian regime has also failed once again? Given their distinct emotional makeup, it can be assumed that Obama will argue that reality is wrong and continue on - Carter-like - into the abyss and drag his country and Israel down with him. Acting in a Clinton-like way, Clinton on the other hand, would be more likely to pick a fight with Serbia - or call for a federal ban on chewing tobacco in a bid to change the subject.
What is most interesting about the danger that Obama constitutes for Israel is how un-unique it is. It is no different than the danger the prospect his presidency constitutes for America. The reason that pseudo-realist Israel bashers and messianic peace mongering Israel bashers support Obama is because they naturally gravitate towards a man on a mission to save the free world from itself.
An empowered, free citizenry will question the realism behind their decision to pretend that the global jihad is the figment of the Jewish lobby's imagination. A cowed, on its way to being redeemed by Obama's cult of personality citizenry will be in no position to argue with them.
The same is as true of domestic issues as it is of foreign policy. When the Obama/Clinton tax hikes and economic protectionism exacerbate the current US recession, under an Obama presidency, rather than debating the merits of the administration's failed economic policies, the American people will be told that they need to have more "discussions" about race to remind them how mean they are and how much they are in need of President Obama's spiritual healing. If they are again attacked by jihadists, they will be lectured by Rev. Wright's longtime follower, their president, about how black enslavement, his white grandmother, Israel, anti-abortion senators and their own "cynicism" played a role in convincing the jihadists to kill innocents.
US Jews have always had a weakness for messianic leaders and movements. Sometimes, as in the case of the civil rights movement, that tendency towards utopianism has had good results. More often it has not. In the current presidential race, American Jews, like all their fellow Americans, would be wise to consider if they are truly ready to accept Obama as their savior.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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