In English, there are the terms “freeloader” or “free-rider,” meaning that someone benefits from something without paying the price for it. President Barack Obama used the second term to describe U.S. allies in Europe and the Middle East. The Amir Turki al-Faisal, a member of the Saudi Arabian royal family, gave a forceful comeback to that accusation, as did the sheikh Tamir al-Sabah, Kuwait’s head of national security, and Lt. Gen. Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, Dubai’s deputy chief of police and public security.
If there is anyone whose actions fit the opinion of the U.S. president, more than any other leader in the entire world, it’s Barack Obama. He said that the United States “[doesn’t] have to always be the [one] who [is] up front.” He further noted that his country’s allies in Europe and the Middle East talk big, but don’t act accordingly.
Again, these words fit perfectly with President Obama’s policy since he entered the White House in the first month of 2009. For instance, he drew a “red line” for the regime of Bashar Assad, threatening U.S. military involvement. The regime used sarin gas in the [Eastern and Western Ghoutas of Syria] on Aug. 13, 2013, killing 1,400 innocent people.* At the time, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other allies waited to see if Obama would get involved as he had promised, but he didn’t do anything.
All this and more is covered in an 18-page interview with President Obama, conducted by Jeffrey Goldberg in the American magazine The Atlantic, which is featured in the April issue. He says in the interview that he is very proud of not intervening [in Syria].
If that isn’t enough, President Obama suggests in the article that the Saudis need to “‘share’ the Middle East with their Iranian foes.” The Iranian regime’s slogan is “Death to America and Israel,” and Obama chose to strike up a nuclear deal that delays, not eliminates, Iran’s military nuclear program, which didn’t just anger the so-called “Arab allies” (his phrase, not mine), but also Israel and Congress.
The positions Barack Obama expresses in the interview are not new; they were already present in a speech he gave against the Iraq war in 2002 addressing President Bush, saying, “You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s fight our so-called allies in the Middle East….”** He then goes on to attack Saudi Arabia and Egypt; I won’t get into the details, but I will say that he did not attack Israel despite all they’ve committed in occupying, killing, destroying, and occasionally massacring the Palestinians. But his country is always ready to use the veto to protect Israel from condemnation in the United Nations Security Council.
Barack Obama has about nine months left [in office]. He entered [office] promising to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan and Iraq, which he has only partially accomplished. He promised to close the prison at Guantanamo, but he hasn’t done it. His slogan in his first campaign was “Yes We Can,” and he talked about “Change.” Since he hasn’t achieved any of his promises; his slogan now is “things could have been much worse.” But I will say that he has saved the American economy.
I’m not sure what historians will write concerning Obama’s eight years in the White House. What is the “Obama Doctrine”? Maybe it was that the United States should scale back its role as a lone superpower in the world. But it is really an elastic doctrine; the United States did get involved in Libya, but did not get involved in Syria. He said time after time that Iran supports terrorist organizations (although I say that Hamas is a national liberation movement, and Israel is the terrorist organization), and that Iran is a “threat to Israel and many of our allies,” and that he never said that the United States should throw the Saudis “overboard in favor of Iran.”
Well maybe he never said that, but that’s what he’s done. He doesn’t want to get into wars that he knows can’t be won. In fact, he doesn’t want to help his allies defend themselves, but he accuses them of wanting to reap the benefits, or ride the bus, without paying the price. What is the price, anyway? Big talk accusing his allies of saying things without doing them — he is a charlatan par excellence.
Translator’s Note: The author of this article is largely responding and directly referring to the “Obama Doctrine” article in The Atlantic.
*Translator’s Note: The author is likely referring to events that took place on Aug. 21, 2013.
**Translator’s Note: This is a misquote. The relevant portion of the speech runs as follows: “Let’s fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells.”