Obama, Bush, and the Middle East

I know many people will think that it is completely unfair to compare Barack Obama’s Middle East policy to that of George W. Bush, but it’s a comparison that just must take place at one point. To begin with, we need to understand that there are two Obamas, the candidate and the president. Views of these two ‘Obamas’ are sometimes different, and in some occasions even contradict each other.

Obama the candidate was delusional about the amount of influence that the US can place over the Israeli government. Even after taking the oval office, he started with making strong demands from Israel that he, later on, had to swallow.

In my opinion this is also connected to his delusional view about the influence of pro-Israeli lobby in the US’ internal political scene. Many people might think that it was merely a coincidence that healthcare reform was facing unjustifiable obstacles in the US congress at the same time when the president was starting to exert pressure on Israel about the peace process in the Middle East. I don’t think it was a coincidence.

Obama was delusional in more than these two aspects of the American political dynamics. Eventually, a systematic campaign against him, and his party, resulted in extreme limitation of his ability to make decisions, and make them work.

I am only saying that Obama was delusional because I don’t think that he, as a person, is a liar, or has bad intentions. On the contrary, Obama’s intentions are so good for the world we live in; in fact, in many occasions, his worldview could be described as naïve, especially regarding the foreign policy. This is probably why his policies in general are not so different from those of Bush. The packaging is different of course, but the substance is pretty much the same.

Obama does not possess a clear image about how the world functions outside the US, and he does not have sharp convictions when it comes to how the US should behave on the international arena. That is why the foreign policy is mostly managed by other members of his administration. Obama is an internally oriented president, and he was elected in a time where an internal problem, which is the financial crisis, was the most pressing issue inside the US, and it was probably the main factor that determined the decisions of the American voters in 2008.

I think that the fact that Obama didn’t grow up with a father has made him want to please everyone around him, because this is the way he could feel secure. Because of that approach both in internal and foreign policy, Obama was not able to please anyone, and this is the main distinction between him and Bush.

In my opinion, Bush was an idiot, and I don’t think many people will disagree that he was the worst president in the history of the United States ever. With that being said, we need to give some credit to Bush for his ability to pursue what he thought was the right thing to do, even if the whole world thought that this is completely wrong and pure evil.

Maybe Bush was more concerned about the oil revenue than his popularity, but even if this would be the case, Bush has ‘accomplished’ a lot according to his own greedy agenda. He occupied two oil-rich countries, not only against the well of many people inside America, Europe, and other places in the free (and not free) world, but also against the well of many governments, and against the well of the security council, including world powers.

Bush, or Dick Cheney, was convinced that Guantanamo Bay prison is the best way to deal with the ‘terrorists’, and so they held them there against the well of the whole world until the end of their administration. Obama, due to his inability to make dramatic decisions, especially in the foreign policy, had to continue the operation of this detention facility against his own convictions, his own words, and his own promises. The position on Iran remains the same, throughout the two administrations as well.

In the Israeli-Palestinian issue, George Bush was completely supportive of Israel by his own convictions, while Obama had to bend to that position against his own well. Eventually, the two presidents followed the same policy regarding this issue, the difference is that Obama had to do it by force.

This in my view is the main difference between the two presidents, Bush was wrong, but he carried out what he thought was the right thing to do. Obama doesn’t have a clear view about what’s right, or what needs to be done and even in the rare cases when he does, he does not want to ‘upset’ anyone in order to achieve it. Eventually his foreign policy will not accomplish a lot, and that’s a petty for a president with such good intentions!

I guess it’s a universal occurrence that bad guys always have the nerve to do their bad deeds, while the good guys are always shy and passive. This is probably why our world is such a ‘bad place’ nowadays.

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One Response to “Obama, Bush, and the Middle East”

  1. Andre says:

    Beth – Not that I’m advocating an iovasinn or even the use of military force in Iran, but you asked a hypothetical that I think deserves an answer:What good could an exercise of American military force do the Iranian protesters?As we demonstrated on the first night of the iovasinn of Iraq, the combined logistical command of the US military is extraordinarily efficient at knocking out the command and control centers of an opposing country.Right now, the balance of power favors the mullahs because they have the ability to move forces at will and can coordinate strategic attacks on the protesters. They have superior armaments, and the advantage of their military training.Again assuming the hypothetical, in even a single evening the US is fully capable of wiping out the vast majority of the mullah’s power base through the use of stealth aircraft, Predators and Tomahawk missiles. No iovasinn. Just some surgical bombing at known military or government sites. Not only would it destroy a good deal of the mullah’s ability to attack protesters, it would also create utter chaos in the command structure of the mullah’s in power.An iovasinn is a “last resort” of military options. There are a whole lot of other options available which could be precisely targeted and have far greater strategic value than an overland iovasinn would risk.Just something to think about.As far as other options that don’t include the military that are within the grasp of the US:1) Encourage countries with embassies in Iran to take in the wounded protesters so they don’t wind up getting arrested when they’re taken to the hospital.2) Publicly announce that the US will not negotiate with the current government of Iran even if it succeeds in putting down the protesters. There is widespread agreement that, given what has transpired in Iran – even if you completely put aside their past history of abrogating treaties and terror-sponsorship – no negotiations are possible with this regime that could produce any results that they could be trusted to live up to anyway. Engaging in sham negotiations for the sake of being able to say that you’re negotiating are worse than not talking at all. So it would cost us nothing to say so upfront while sending a strong signal to protestors.3) Requesting that a meeting of the UN Security Council be held to discuss real sanctions against the current regime if they don’t immediately cease hostilities against their own people. This includes blocking gasoline shipments: Iran has plenty of oil, but no capacity to refine it into gasoline. The protesters are effectively pinned down without the ability to travel by the government anyway. The ones who would be most hurt by this would be the mullahs who would no longer be able to transport Hezbollah and Hamas thugs from place to place.All 3 of these items could be initiated tomorrow if Obama were serious about supporting the protestors. It would cost this country nothing, and yet say everything to the protestors (and the regime).I came up with these 3 off the top of my head as I was composing this post. Surely all the foreign policy “experts” that Obama has at his disposal could come up with similar ideas and a much longer list over the week that this has been going on. Don’t you think?

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