Rage and Destruction as the Basis of Obama's Middle East Policy
While the ongoing crisis in the Middle East is widely perceived by conservatives as Obama's policy failure, the conflagration in the area may be precisely what the current administration wants.
The Obama administration appears to be hell-bent on completely eradicating the map the Western powers created via the 1919 Treaty of Versailles by allowing or actively stoking the fires in the Middle East.
Why would this be?
While Dinesh D'Souza has been heavily criticized for his analysis of Obama's youth and the influence of his anti-colonialist father, his insights ring true in view of current events. As D'Souza has said, "If Obama views America as the neocolonial occupier of Iraq and Afghanistan, then Muslims fighting against America are anti-colonial resisters and deserve a measure of sympathy."
Add to that list other nations of North Africa and the Middle East.
Obama's anti-colonialism, along with radical liberation theology learned at the feet of "God damn America" Jeremiah Wright, plus the radical leftist influences of his past and now of his top advisors, all combine to support an anti-colonialist and anti-West ideology that sees America exceptionalism, influence, and power as detrimental to a new world order that is "spontaneously" erupting around the globe.
To Obama, the Middle Eastern boundaries set up by the West in the 1919 Treaty of Versailles would be an example of Western hauteur. For him, Islam should be considered indigenous to the region, while Western influence is seen as anathema. The recent uprisings fomented by radical Islamists could mean the end of Western influence as the entire map of the Middle East is redrawn by insurgents who will jettison at last the configurations created by the West.
The tendency of the radical left, of which Obama and his administration are a part, is to believe that any existing structures and boundaries established by the Western powers, be they domestic or foreign, are thoroughly rotten and deserve destruction as irredeemable. The far left views Western institutions and constructs as being so arbitrarily and unjustly constructed, so oppressive, and in the case of the non-Western world, so riddled with the vestiges of colonialism, that the best solution is to allow these edifices to burn down so that new entities may, like the proverbial Phoenix, rise from the ashes. In the Middle East as well as perhaps elsewhere, those entities will be characterized by Muslim extremism rather than Western influence.
To put it another way, a Gotterdammerung immolating Western influence is preferable to what was cobbled together at Versailles and which has limped along as neither fish nor fowl for some one hundred years. Once things have burned to the ground, the authentic voice of the indigenous peoples, unsullied by Western influence, can speak.
In other words, the radical policies Obama advocates domestically are being applied globally. His domestic and international agenda are based on the same ideology, an ideology characterized by rage.
Leftist radicals are always more inclined to destruction rather than reform as a supposedly redemptive influence on civilizations. They are always impatient with gradual reformation and careful syncretism, as rage is seen as the authentic emotion and as foundational to radical transformation. Rage, since it is the most authentic emotion, should be met with placation by the existing "establishment," or the establishment risks total destruction. When the establishment is the wicked and colonizing West, rage and destruction are doubly justified.
The destruction of the Twin Towers, for instance, was thought justified by some on the far left because the U.S. had made Muslims angry. Norman Mailer, for instance, likened the towers to "two huge buck teeth," proclaiming the rubble to be more beautiful than the buildings themselves. "Everything wrong with America led to the point the country built that Tower of Babel, which consequently had to be destroyed."
What a tribute to Rage and Destruction, the gods of the left.
The twin gods rule the policies of the current administration. Such is the Obama administration's fervor for America to placate rage and to be reduced to at least parity with other nations that an angry Iran is basically being allowed, through sheer passivity on the part of the West, to get the nuclear bomb to assure that the Middle East -- excluding Israel, of course-- achieves supposed equality with the West. Obama, by means of his passive aggression, constant foot-dragging and failure to establish a "Red Line", is basically enabling the development of nuclear weapons despite the apocalyptic vision of present-day Iranian leadership, whose rulers openly advocate Israel be obliterated from the map.
Ironically, the true theme of the Obama administration should be "back" rather than "forward," as apparently the goal is to return the Middle East and the entire world to an Edenic world that supposedly existed before the predations of white Western colonialism. It appears the gods of Rage and Destruction are to accomplish the great movement backwards.
Back to the days of Saladin.
Back to the storied One Thousand and One Nights.
Back to the sweet sound of the call from minarets.
Back to the glories of Alhambra.
Back to a Muslim Empire and the caliphate.
Level it all to the ground so that former glories are resurrected, the lands restored to their "rightful" owners and the power given back to the indigenous inhabitants.
Alas, such utopianism is not a hopeful future, but an attempt to return to some imaginary past in hopes that things will be as they once were. It is sheer vanity in the deepest sense of that term.
Blaming America and the West for the inevitable loss of impetus every empire suffers as its foundational premises and military might wither actually permits no vision other than a backwards looking and ultimately destructive one. Punishing the West and seeking to purge the Middle East of Western influence is a futile and destructive endeavor, as the exhaustion and decay that accompanies the decline of all civilizations remains unaddressed, rendering reform impossible.
The elevation of King Farouk as ruler of Egypt decades ago serves as an instructive example of the folly of returning a nation to former greatness by seeking a utopian return to the idylls of the pharaohs. As Richard Cavendish points out, rather than dealing with the decay within and taking the good it could from the West, Egypt anointed Farouk partly because he was seen as a salutary relief from Western influence. The grossly obese and morally prurient king was seen with approval by some simply because he was not a British puppet. Though he spent money recklessly, had an insatiable appetite for prostitutes and chorus girls, and possessed an embarrassing proclivity toward kleptomania, at least he wasn't British.
Leaders such as Ataturk and the Shah of Iran, both of whom admittedly perpetrated terrible human rights violations, have passed into quiet anonymity mostly because their attempts at modernizing their countries included Western-style reforms. They therefore are regarded as inauthentic by the radical Muslim movement that has gained increasing influence ever since 1979, when the radical Muslim Ayatollah Khomeini was elevated to leadership in Iran in place of the Shah. Increasingly, radicals like Khomeini are elevated to places of world leadership as they are seen as authentically enraged and thus fundamentally purer representatives of the Muslim and Arab world, just as today, the Muslim Brotherhood sees its reductionist ideology as a purer version of Islam.
In reality, the Ayatollah and his ilk are indicators that the greater the exhaustion of any given civilization, the more ferocious, strangely and weirdly simplistic, yet actually feeble and even idiotic the ideology accompanying its decline will be. Simplistic, angry, and destructive ideology is always the sign of a depleted civilization.
Thus the world saw Mao Tse Tung's advocacy of a pure China cleansed from the influence of the West result in the building of useless backyard coke furnaces, doctors of philosophy being forced to carrying buckets of manure, and violinists and pianists who dared to play Western music having their fingers smashed while millions of Westernized "degenerates" were sent for re-education to the countryside.
The rage against the West characterized by the infamous Red Guards and the hope of a return to a purer, simpler age resulted not in paradise, but in the deaths of some 50-70 million Chinese.
Thus we see this administration's advocacy of rage and destruction, whether it is passively or actively complicit in the Middle East conflagration, accomplishing the demolition of things Western while severely reducing American influence.
In the meantime, the rage is stimulated and accompanied by a severity of the sort reserved for ideologies at the dead end of their influence, as noted above. Severity in turn results in brutality such as chopping off the hands and feet of converts to Christianity, stoning women to death for imagined adulteries, and hanging homosexuals. The idea seems to be that even if what replaces Western influence is initially worse and drags nations back to the Stone Age, at least truly indigenous rage is authentic and achieves something, even if it is destruction.
Gradual syncretism and reasoned dialogue are rejected in favor of returning to an imaginary but supposedly pure past free of repressive Western influence. Inevitably, a fictional and impossible return to the past results in forcible repression, as attempting to retain stasis, much less a return to an idyllic past, is impossible without bloodshed.
In the long run this administration, whether willfully or passively, is handing over entire nations to an exhausted ideological construct that in its severe, fiery ideology will destroy not only the Middle East, but perhaps even our own country.
"Back," not "forward" appears to be the summation of Obama's own reductionist view of America, the Middle East and indeed the entire world. If his ideology prevails, not just the Middle East, but the entire world may be subject to a destruction from which it may never recover.
It may be no Phoenix, a shining bird of hope, that arises to restore the world, but instead, as W.B. Yeats wrote, a brute beast with a "gaze blank and pitiless as the sun... [a] rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouching toward Bethlehem to be born."
Fay Voshell holds an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, which awarded her the Charles Hodge Prize for excellence in systematic theology. Her articles have appeared in American Thinker and National Review. She was selected as one of Delaware GOP's "Winning Women" of 2008. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org