by Barry Rubin
In critiquing the Obama Administration, I don’t mean to suggest it has no reasons for desiring to please Arabs and Muslims as one of its highest (sometimes seemingly its highest) priorities. Unfortunately in practice this often means flattering the more extremist forces in those groups and giving short shrift to the more moderate among them.
This strategy isn’t a conspiracy; it just doesn’t correspond to the realities of the region or work particularly well.
The main factors inspiring this effort in terms of foreign policy--in contrast to ideological premises about
1. The hope that Arab governments will help the
2. The hope that Arab governments will help the
At the same time, though, Arab states are also intimidated by
3. The hope that if sufficiently soothed, flattered, and appeased, Arabs and Muslims are less likely to join or support anti-American terrorist groups. Here, no doubt there is some limited success but very limited. Al-Qaida has been weakened more by
4. The hope that the United States can stay out of crises, including Israel-Palestinian, the struggle over power in Lebanon, the intervention of Syria and Iran backing terrorists in Iraq, of Pakistan backing terrorists in India; and others. Obama succeeds in avoiding such entanglement but the cost is victories for revolutionary Islamists (Hamas entrenches itself in the Gaza Strip; Syria recaptures control over Lebanon and Hizballah becomes stronger; Iran and Syria can intervene in Iraq and kill Americans there without cost; moderate regimes lose faith in America; etc.)
There is also some domestic advantage for Obama, who can argue that he has made
Among those who support the administration, there is an assumption that the whole strategy of apology, empathy, the
The costs of this policy are much easier to measure.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal.
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