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Barack Obama Photo: Reuters
Barack Obama Photo: Reuters
 
Yigal Walt
Yigal Walt 
 
 

A disaster called Obama

Op-ed: Great promise turns into catastrophe as Obama leads world into abyss; can we have Bush back?

Yigal Walt
Published: 08.23.11, 21:47 / Israel Opinion

Barack Obama is solidifying his status as the worst president in American history. The leader who promised us a bright future of peace and fraternity is leading the American empire – and the rest of the world with it – into a dark abyss. Ever since he settled into the Oval Office, Obama has been hopping from one disaster to the next, making every possible mistake, boosting enemies and disregarding allies while ruining everything he touches in the process. To our regret, the heaviest price – for the time being at least – is being paid by residents of the Middle East.

 

When the masses hit Iran’s street and threatened to topple the Ayatollah regime, Obama was silent. Why should he support a struggle waged by freedom-hungry citizens against a radical Islamic dictatorship and chronic human rights violator? And so, a rare opportunity to change the face of a state that today constitutes the gravest threat to world and regional peace slipped away.

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Instead of supporting the brave Iranian protestors, Obama chose to nurture his relationship with a new buddy, Bashar Assad, while portraying him as a US ally. When the same Assad started to heartily butcher his own people, while ignoring his “American friends,” Obama again chose silence, until finally breaking it with meaningless, vain declarations. For the time being Obama keeps muttering, Assad keeps murdering, and the world keeps watching and doing nothing.

 

So when did Obama act? Mubarak! The Egyptian ruler, possibly the wisest, most moderate Mideastern leader safeguarded the peace treaty with Israel, hunted down Islamic radicals, counter-balanced the Shiite Iran, steadfastly maintained his ties with the US and turned our crazed region into a slightly saner place. He was no angel, certainly not towards his own people, but was or is there a better realistic option?

 

Yet there of all places, Obama the brilliant diplomat opted to intervene aggressively, openly humiliated Mubarak and ultimately presented him with an explicit threat while the latter was struggling to maintain his rule. When the president’s “security experts” declared that the Muslim Brotherhood is a “moderate movement” and admitted they need more time to ascertain its attitude to Israel, we knew we were in for trouble.

 

Within a few months, Egypt has turned into a state controlled by a military junta, radical Islam reared its head and the Sinai Peninsula turned into a no-man’s land contending for the title of “most dangerous region in the world.” Last week, the “border of peace” was rattled by the largest terror offensive in its history, not only killing eight Israelis but also producing a deep crisis vis-à-vis Egypt. Thank you for that one, too, Obama.

 

The Libya fiasco

A sure sign that Obama has become irrelevant and is no longer taken seriously by anyone is the tendency of other world leaders to listen to him – and then do the exact opposite. Despite his pleas, the rulers of Riyadh and Manama chose to ignore his demands for restraint and brutally repressed the protests against them. Apparently this spared us the dubious pleasure of watching the establishment of yet another Islamic Shiite state, this time in Bahrain.

 

Obama decided to intervene in Libya as well, likely after his advisors enlightened him on the importance of the vast desert nation’s oil reserves. However, instead of acting decisively and exhibiting America’s power, Obama again chose to mutter and fidget; when a military operation against Gaddafi was finally approved, the hedid everything in his power to ensure the US does not take a lead role in the effort.

 

And so, the once-intimidating NATO alliance found itself entangled above Libya’s deserts for long months in a “battle of giants” against a state whose army is sometimes reminiscent of a Jenin street gang from a decade ago. Indeed, Obama managed to erode the strategic-deterrent NATO asset as well. Now, with Gaddafi’s rule finally drawing to an end, the president kindly took time off from his vacation to festively declare that the future is in the Libyan people’s hands – while local tribes are preparing for the imminent bloodshed and al-Qaeda is reinforcing its hold on the country.

 

In the process, Obama also managed to quarrel with his closest regional ally, Israel, while utterly failing in his efforts to restore Jerusalem’s ties with yet another (former?) ally, Turkey. And we haven’t even mentioned the economy yet, where Obama appears poised to lead his country into what appears to be a devastating recession. Only recently he won the dubious honor of being the first president to see America’s credit rating lowered while in office.

 

Longing for Bush

The ongoing disaster called Obama may prompt some of us to apologize to another American president, one George W. Bush. What hasn’t been said about Barack Hussein’s predecessor? He was called stupid, incoherent and naïve; he was said to understand nothing and know nothing – yet now it turns out that the cowboy from Texas had a much better grasp on reality than his many critics. Even if his motives were at times as naïve as Obama’s, the former president combined them with an iron fist, immense determination and admirable loyalty to his allies.

 

Bush’s offensive in Afghanistan toppled the Taliban regime, thereby depriving al-Qaeda of its most important base. Iraq may have not been the ideal target for the next assault, yet Saddam Hussein was undoubtedly among the world’s cruelest dictators and his ouster was a supremely moral act. The president’s ability to execute a powerful military operation and take over Iraq with relative ease conveyed an incisive message to all regional leaders. The bad guys were shaking in their boots, Gaddafi volunteered to dismantle his nuclear program, Iran was cautious, and even Assad kept quiet.

 

Bush also shunned the terrorist Arafat, approved the razing of the Syrian reactor, granted unqualified support to Lebanese moderates and developed close relations with his allies throughout his term in office. Moreover, his “naïve” insistence on bringing democracy to the Arab world and his faith in the peoples of the region paved the way for the revolutions we are now witnessing. We can assume that had he still been in power, the fascinating process underway around us would have been managed in a wiser, more effective manner.

 

Yet Bush is already a distant dream, while Obama is a living and breathing nightmare. Now all that’s left is to wait and see whether America’s citizens will be able to remove him from the White House before he destroys everything.

 

 

 

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