Dr. Mordechai NisanDr. Mordechai Nisan, is a retired lecturer in Middle East Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.Among his books is The Conscience of Lebanon: A Political Biography of Etienne Sakr (Abu-Arz). His most recent book is Only Israel West of the River: The Jewish State and the Palestinian Question, available at Amazon.com.
Radical transforming political developments in the Middle East and North Africa have given rise to criticism over the failure of President Obama’s foreign policy. Pro-American regimes, as in Tunisia and Egypt, have virtually been toppled by mass protest in the name of ending corruption and nepotism, and demanding liberty and democracy, economic justice and social welfare for lower impoverished classes.
Other regional leaders, like King Abdullah in Jordan, are targeted by popular opposition, and in Lebanon the Western-oriented Hariri government has been brought down. The U.S.-supported Palestinian Abu Mazen regime has come on hard times, with the Qatari Al-Jazeera campaign undermining its political legitimacy. Iran-supported Hamas is the beneficiary of this development.
This political collapse in the Middle East is seen as a colossal defeat for Obama and American interests. Washington’s allies have fallen, or are tottering, and hopes for moderation and stability seem to be shattered.
Obama’s True Agenda
Since entering the White House, Obama has been transparent in promoting his views and policies. In the domestic arena, he favors construction of a large mosque near Ground Zero though a majority of Americans oppose this controversial step; he favored a civilian trial for 9/11 terror planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammad despite popular views to the contrary; and he refused to describe the Fort Hood killing spree of thirteen soldiers by Muslim major Nidal Malik Hasan as a crime inspired by Islam.
The elevated status of Islam in America was already announced at Obama’s inaugural address when he referred to America as a nation of “Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus.” The Jews had been surpassed by Muslims in the politico-religious hierarchy, while later Obama speaking in the name of America stated that ‘We are no longer a Christian nation’. A clear instance of Islamic prioritization occurred when NASA’s new mandate was ordered by Obama to be outreach to Muslim countries, and to make them feel good about their contribution to science.
In world politics, Obama promised that America will never go to war against Islam. His first presidential visits to Cairo and Ankara illustrated his exceptional friendship for Muslim countries; he avoided visiting Jerusalem. His sanctions campaign against Iran was sluggish and his support for the reformist protest following the June 2009 elections muted. The ayatollahs could relax with Obama in the White House.
Meanwhile, Obama has now sent an ambassador to Damascus to restore relations with that rogue state that has been allowing Iran and Hizbullah to freely engage in weapons smuggling across Syria’s border into Lebanon. Recently on Obama’s watch, the Iranian republic’s surrogate terrorist subsidiary brought down the elected pro-Western government in Beirut.
And now we have reports that Washington was even involved earlier in supporting anti-Mubarak forces in Egypt, and when the massive street protests erupted in late January, Obama’s administration advised him to act with restraint and initiate reforms. This is a historical playback to Carter helping deliver Iran under the shah into the hands of ayatollah Khomeini.
Obama’s Islamic Paradigm Policy
There are different explanations of Obama’s policies and goals in the region. Some say he is poorly advised or that he is politically naïve. Perhaps he lacks judgment on strategic and political affairs in this rough Middle Eastern arena of precarious relations and duplicitous promises.
But a paradigm which fits Obama’s record suggests that the tempo and turmoil of regional events fit his agenda, and may be a result of his policies. As a son of a Muslim father, Obama is on course to promote Islamization at home and abroad. In the Middle East, where popular religious forces threaten authoritarian regimes, Obama has placed America on the side of Islam. His is a historical role in furthering the expansion of radical Shari’a Islam from his Oval Office in Washington. Hamas, while defined as a terrorist organization, received U.S. aid for the Gaza Strip under its rule.
Obama’s agenda is succeeding brilliantly with the very list of events considered his failures in foreign policy in facthighlighting his successes. Islamic takeovers in Lebanon and perhaps Egypt, maybe in Tunisia and Yemen, then Jordan, fulfill his vision in full glow. Thus, Egypt as a base of American strategy in the Middle East may be replaced by Egypt as a foundation for the spread of radical Islam in the world. When Obama bowed before the King of Saudi Arabia in April 2009, he was not showing respect for the monarchy but deference to the Guardian of the Holy Cities of Islam. Maybe over a few generations Washington will be added, along with Rome, to the list of Islamic sacred sites.
It is Obama’s radical liberalism and political leftism that bamboozle an appreciation of his Islamic agenda. After all, his support or sympathy for homosexuality and gay marriage, certainly abortion, is incongruent with Islamic law and custom. Yet President Obama stands simultaneously for Islamand liberalism, and the radical rupturing of traditional America can dialectically advance the process over the long-run for the victory of Islam. A morally fractured and spiritually distraught America will lead more of its young people, as is already happening, to embrace Islam. So too, Obama’s call for liberty and democracy in the Arab world, as in Egypt, can enable the revolution by Islam.