Yoaz Hendel

Obama’s search for utopia

Op-ed: President Barack Obama has good intentions, but reality keeps on getting in the way

When Barack Obama entered the White House, one could have mistakenly thought that a new era is in store. The skilled Obama delivered a speech before a captivated audience at the University of Cairo, welcomed the crowd in Arabic, and promised to turn a new leaf between the United States and Islam. It was a touching event, yet it’s hard to characterize it as “policy.”


Now, the ground is shaking in the very same place. The Egyptian regime (which the US invested billions of dollars in) swung like a pendulum, and the good friend Obama, who turned a new leaf, was quick to close the door. So what has changed? Nothing. Obama had good intentions in Cairo and he still has good intentions today – but reality gets in the way.


President Obama was seeking the kind of utopia that exists nowhere. Equipped with a Nobel Peace Prize and with his “yes, we can” promises, the US president entered the political twilight zone of trial and error and tried to have it all.


He sought to encourage the moderate Arab states, yet at the same time talk about democracy. He wanted to care for the repressed Islamic opposition, yet at the same time brutally repress the terror that grows in these very same areas. This colossal confusion stemmed from flawed intelligence at best and from ignorance at worst.


Confused policy

Obama’s attitude to Israel could be forgiven – after all, the damage here was tolerable. The president indeed confused Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood with an illegal outpost at the heart of Samaria and prompted the Palestinians to insist on a settlement freeze, thereby ending peace talks, yet there’s no need to get overly excited: Even when talks take place, they lead nowhere.


In the Egyptian case, on the other hand, the confused policy conveyed by the Obama Administration may lead to irreparable damage. The gulf between his dream and realities across the Nile is absolute.


We can see where this stems from: After he hesitated in the face of the green revolution in Iran, today Obama shows the opposite approach. However, in the Egyptian case the American interest was supposed to be the dynasty’s survival. Forget for a moment the quick treachery and the conclusions drawn by every Arab leader in the past two weeks, and think about the day after.


Obama wants democracy in Egypt; he wishes to promote human rights and improve the status of women. This is a noble notion, yet democracy means Muslim Brotherhood, radicalism, and Iran-style human rights. Indeed, there is nothing wrong with dreamers like Obama, but not in this profession.



פרסום ראשון: 02.10.11, 10:48
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