Middle East studies in the News
Obama & McCain's Two World Views [incl. Rashid Khalidi]
by Joseph Puder
To understand Sen. Barack Obama's world view one must consider the individuals that formed his thinking.
Among those on the list one undoubtedly will find the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose brand of religion is based on Black Liberation Theology is replete with anti-White and anti-Semitic overtones. Sen. Obama has expressed a strong affinity with the Third World, much of which would obviously include the Islamic world.
One of the figures greatly revered by Rev. Wright is Louis Farrakhan, the Supreme Minister of the Nation of Islam. Farrakhan would have likewise moved Sen. Obama, who has written of his being deeply inspired by Rev. Wright as well.
Others who influenced and educated Sen. Obama on America's "injustices" include Middle Eastern Studies professor at Columbia University, Rashid Khalidi, who largely shaped his views on theMiddle East and Bill Ayers, co-founder of the radical-left Weather Underground, a group that engaged in domestic terrorism. Mr. Ayers, no doubt, bent Sen. Obama's ears on the "exploitation of people of color worldwide by America."
If Rev. Wright sustained Sen. Obama spiritually for 20 years, others, including writers and philosophers contributed to themolding of his Weltanschaung (worldview). On the campuses of Harvard and Columbia, where left-wing professors and student agitators abound, Obama, like many others absorbed a good dose of Marxism-Leninism.
But, his career does not indicate that he received a counterview, an antidote to the one-sided poisoning of the mind administered by the left on America 's most prestigious universities.
One of the books that must have touched Sen. Obama is Francis Fukuyama's "The End of History" which heralded the triumph of liberal democracy and the demise of all other ideologies.
The model that Mr. Fukuyama had inmind for a liberal democracy however was not the U.S., but the European Union (EU). Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate in 2004, advocated the adoption of EU norms. Sen. Kerry also happens to be one of Sen. Obama's staunchest supporters.
One of the arguments made by Mr. Fukuyama is that in a democracy a person does not have to risk his/her life for recognition from another person. Messrs. Fukuyama's and Obama's understanding is that masters and slaves see their roles as self-defeating and therefore would no longer want to practice it on the world stage.
It means that America or the West do not have to fight wars anymore, because sooner or later the Islamic radicals will turn into semi-liberal democrats ... That would justify Sen. Obama's opposition to confronting Iran and fighting Islamic terrorism and, it would also explain why he did not vote for the Iraq War Resolution in Congress.
In contrast to Mr. Fukuyama, Samuel Huntington's book, "The Clash of Civilizations," suggested that cultural and religious identities will be a primary source of conflict in the post-Cold War world. He claimed that, "the fault lines of our civilizations are the battle lines of the future," and that "The United States must forge alliances with similar cultures and spread its values wherever possible. With alien cultures and civilizations the West must be accommodating only if possible, but confrontational if necessary."
Sen. John McCain apparently identifies with Huntington's thesis. Sen. McCain recognizes, for example, that Iran's Islamic Republic must be confronted and not appeased. His view runs contrary to Mr. Obama's and the EU's appeasement of Iran policies.
Sen. McCain's world view was formed as a combat pilot in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War. Neither in the Naval Academy nor in the service of theUnited States was Sen. McCain exposed to the radicalism that is prevalent on most U.S. campuses.
No doubt, he would have readMarx, and the writings of other revolutionaries, but having to fight a real war, and being a prisoner-of-war in Vietnam, developed in hima practical rather than a theoretical world view, that taught him that in the real world, America must fight for its freedom, and its way of life lest our enemies - the Soviets, the Nazis, the Chinese and especially now the Islamists - destroy us.
One determinative influence on Sen. Obama has been his reading of Reinhold Niebuhr, a liberal American Protestant theologian of German decent, best known for relating Christianity to the realities of modern politics. Mr. Niebuhr argued that serious sins are largely those of communal sins.
He wrote: "We give ourselves with all our loyalty and power to one group, to its security and success, and to its conquests and domination of competing groups."
The larger the group we belong to, Mr. Niebuhr argued, the less critical we are of its claims, and the less need we feel to recognize the just claims of those who belong to competing groups or nations.
Sen. Obama's response as to why rural Pennsylvanians refrained from voting for him reflected a bit of Mr. Niebuhr's thinking. "You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations." Mr. Niebuhr is quoted as having said, "The tendency to claim God as an ally for a partisan value and ends is the source of all religious fanaticism."
Discounting Sen. Obama's alleged Muslim upbringing, it is quite apparent that in facing America's enemies in today's world, especially radical Islamist terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, and terrorist sponsoring nations like Iran, and Syria, Sen. Obama will be "understanding" of their position. This "understanding" translates to appeasement and accommodation at the expense of such American allies as Israel and the Kurds. He has adopted the EU worldview (as Sen.Kerry did) of avoiding confrontation with America's enemies at all costs.
Domestically he will seek to recreate the Europeanmodel of a "cradle-to-grave" welfare state that would largely benefit minorities and immigrants: legal, and mostly illegal, albeit, in a modified European form.
A McCain presidency might not heal the economic ills currently facing America, nor is his administration likely to be the best America has seen, but it will continue America's exceptionalism- an America we can all recognize, with values we are familiar with, and change that will sustain the things that made America a great nation.
He will provide a sense of reality that would guard against the threats to America's promise of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.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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