Dar Al Hayat, U.K.
Is Obama Betraying His Task as
a History-Maker for the Sake of
His Presidential Ambitions?
By Salah Salim
A personal deficiency in the American political mind uses its authority against the side it imagines to be the weaker in favor of the one with which it is aligned culturally or religiously...
Translated By Elissa Krieg
2 April 2012
Edited by Adam Talkington
U.K. - Dar Al Hayat - Original Article (Arabic)
In the past three years of his presidency, Barack Obama has succeeded in returning many positive values to international relations. The most important of these are dialogue, moderation and the primacy of diplomacy over violence. His extraordinary charisma, as well as his political flexibility and unusual ability to listen to the other side regardless of their perspective or position on the United States, have helped him discharge an immense force of anger. This anger was stored up behind the walls of isolation and superiority of the political right during the storm of protests following the last presidential election (2009)*, especially in regard to China and Russia, not to mention Iran.
The man was so eloquent when he described the conflict in Iran as "internal," and so realistic and judicious in thinking it was "not radical or extreme." It [the conflict] is still underway inside the religious abaya of the Supreme Leader. Maybe he realized during his term, even if he hasn't announced it openly, that the conflict will grow and become more radical, and that the religious authorities will become a focus of discussion in coming days. Breaches have now been torn open and blood has rushed around in and from them – not pouring out completely, but also not just trickling – leaving scars and aches. For the Iranian people, this has crystallized the desire and ability to rally in the face of the authorities that no one dared to contest openly until now.
In place of the general feelings that grew during the Bush junior era – always expecting the next explosion in world politics, maybe a new war or larger political crisis led by America – the world began to expect a growing detente and awaken to renewed hopes of leaving behind a state of war for the sake of peace, as well as of leaving behind a climate of economic crisis. In short, the crux of the question changed with Obama, and instead of the question that occurred to us under the shadow of the dominant political right, "when will war break out?" a different question came to the fore with Obama: "why hasn't he made peace?" Probably, it was a slow shift, but it is certain that the orientation of the compass indeed changed and that the prevailing feeling was that what was coming would be better.
In this context, the Arab-Israeli conflict remains a token exception. The man isn't even in the ballpark yet, in spite of his promise of a two-state solution. In fact, one could say that he has retreated considerably in the face of the Israeli right, which has well-known material and moral ties to the American right, too numerous to mention here, but which made him constantly talk about America's fundamental relationship with Israel as not open to disagreement or discussion. Does this mean that he wants to give it absolute priority at the expense of international law? Or is he waiting for his second term, when he would be free from Jewish material and moral pressures, to talk about making good on the promise he made to Arabs and Muslims in Cairo three years ago, inviting them to a new era in which the foundations of peaceful coexistence would prevail?
The Brink of Insanity?
Maybe the first possibility will turn out to be right and Obama will be a false dream. Maybe the second possibility will come true and the man will turn out to be a real maker of history. Either way, the matter remains in the context of the rational: a personal deficiency in the American political mind uses its authority against the side it imagines to be the weaker in favor of the one with which it is aligned culturally or religiously; or, it is a show of a lack of will by a man who has lost his ability to make history, so seeks ease and security in submitting to reality. But what pushes the matter outside a framework of reason and onto the verge of insanity is the enmity towards Iran, whether by claiming fictitious danger to America, or wearing a mask of political-ideological hypocrisy with Israel, or even taking a position of cold neutrality on Israeli attacks on Iran, which could be taken as either agreement with them or hesitation to try to stop them.
The Iranian regime may be extreme on many issues, and it may be a reactionary regime, absorbed in itself and its ideology and withdrawn from some of the larger realities of our world. The regime may even be a curse on the Iranian people itself. Many of its sons may even be thinking of how to get rid of it, as with the uprising of 2009, which was discovered, then cruelly put down. The signs of internal division may very well have begun their work. This is what the numerous disagreements among the central elite of the political regime, as well as among members of the conservative movement themselves, indicate.
Nevertheless, there is a basic psychological truth, and that is that the presence of the American conservative right, on the one hand, and the connection resulting from pressing the nuclear issue, on the other, are what hardened these inconsistencies throughout the present treaty, and that the best way to purge them is to avoid any kind of interference. Interference will contribute to fortifying them and enable the current regime to control them and aim the power that it can mobilize against the outside, especially America. The Iranian regime, like any closed regime, grows in isolation, feeds on fear and gets stronger when it is cut off. As soon as the fear is gone and the siege ends, questions will begin and will quickly reach the point of interrogation. In the end, all of them will lead to demands from a truly ancient people for their right to decide their future and control their path. And this only after they realize that freedom from the grip of backwardness and weakness comes only from human action in history, or from the false promises of salvation that surpass this history.
*Editor’s note: the last presidential election occurred in 2008.
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