What is Behind the American Fiasco in the Middle East?
Most likely future historians will be amazed by the size and the endurance of the wall surrounding the truth about the disastrous results of the errant strategy applied by American diplomacy in the Middle East.
The first brick in the foundation of this wall was laid personally by the President of the United States, who from the very beginning of his mandate explicitly forbade the use of the term "radical Islam". Let's remind ourselves of the simple truth that the name of the biggest threat hanging over the United States is precisely the radical version of the Muslim religion. Consequently, the decision of the President of the United States raises some interesting questions no one has ever tried to answer. Maybe the most important among them is: Why did Mr. Obama decide to impose a ban on the only possible term applicable to the ideology and the strategy of the enemy?
It could be argued that given the circumstances, the president spent part of his childhood in a Muslim country where he attended a Muslim school which provided Mr. Obama with a unique experience and knowledge as far as Islam and the Muslim world is concerned. At least theoretically, it could be assumed, that Mr. Obama entered the White House well familiar with Islam and its extreme variety, and consequently able to deal with the Islamic challenge.
At a practical level, however, the reality turned out to be very different. Mr. Obama's view seems to be that Islam is just a religion. In other words the Muslim belief system is devoid of any political dimensions except for its use by a relatively insignificant group of "extremists." The multitude of failures brought about by this approach is enormous. Let's pay attention to the most important of the disasters.
It was in 2011 when the administration became blinded by the brouhaha around the so-called Arab Spring. Given that the denial of the existence of radical Islam was already a firmly established pattern, the White House and the Department of State failed to recognize the danger represented by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. As a result, in July of 2011, the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton not only recognized the legitimacy of the largest Islamist organization in Egypt, but also made public the decision of the U.S. Government "to work with the Muslim Brotherhood."
To a large degree, the victory of the Islamists during the presidential elections was predetermined by the passivity of the White House and the mistaken actions of Clinton's Department of State. Let's disperse from the very beginning a possible misunderstanding: there was no need for any form of direct involvement of the American administration in the conduct of the Egyptian elections in 2011, and no one is recommending it for the future either.
What constituted a huge gaffe for President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton was that both of them assured the Muslim Brotherhood of unconditional American financial and military assistance after the electoral victory of the Islamists. This shocking failure of judgment was symbolized in the word "unconditional." In order to understand the logic of President Obama, we have to go back to his major perception of the Muslim religion. It is worthwhile to follow the practical implementation of Mr. Obama's concept. To start with, Mr. Obama's perception of the Muslim religion as a purely spiritual phenomenon is incorrect.
The distinguished scholar of Islam Bernard Lewis offered an excellent description of Wahhabism, which is the extremist variety of Sunni Islam. In his attempt to explain the essence of radical Islam, Dr. Lewis asked his readers to picture a situation where the Ku Klux Klan obtained full control over the oil wealth of Texas. Based on the income derived from the oil, the Klan launched a worldwide propaganda campaign that proclaimed its ideology as the only true version of Christianity. It would be logical then for the Klansmen to accuse the Catholics, Protestants, and the followers of the Greek Orthodox Church of being heretics and apostates from the only true variety of Christianity represented and propagated by the Klan.
This incorrect interpretation of the essence, the purpose, and the strategy of radical Islam by President Obama made inevitable the conduct of a mistaken policy dutifully executed by Department of State under Hillary Clinton, and currently under John Kerry. The same factor determined the disastrous American approach to the crisis ravaging Egypt. For all practical purposes, the U.S. sided with the hard-core Islamist Morsi. The former President of Egypt encouraged by the warmth of the friendship unconditionally offered to him by Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton, embarked on a course leading to the establishment of an Islamist dictatorship along the lines of the system that emerged in 1979 in Iran.
What happened next was even worse: the administration that lavished Morsi's regime with a billion dollars' worth of financial assistance and military supplies turned a cold shoulder on the Egyptian military who extracted their country from the merciless grip of the Islamists.
There are events in politics when a politician should make his voice heard when the given event affects his principles or beliefs. At the same time, there are facts and situations the leader should keep within his private domain. In some strange way President Obama acts in contrast to those very basic requirements. The world still remembers the blood of the young protesters shed on the streets of Teheran in the aftermath of the rigged elections that brought about the second mandate of President Ahmadinejad in Iran. The majority of the world's statesmen expressed their condemnation of the Iranian regime and their support of its victims. Regretfully, the White House and the Department of State under Clinton remained silent.
At the same time however, the president spoke about his positive feelings towards the Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan, whom Mr. Obama, according to his own words, counts as one of his five best friends in the realm of politics. Shall we remind the President of the United States of Erdogan's record? Erdogan is a hard -ore Islamist who supported Morsi, still supports Hamas, crashed the protest demonstrations of the students, and imprisoned a score of Turkish journalists. In addition, the Turkish statesman has an entirely negative attitude toward Israel.
On a different subject: what does President Obama think about Benghazi? There was an intense moment when his former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, assumed full responsibility for the calamity that took the lives of four American diplomats. What was the punishment for her role in the murky and bloody affair? Well, she has been enthusiastically pushed forward as a leading candidate for the presidency of the United States...
Georgy Gounev PhD teaches and writes on the ideology and strategy of radical Islam. Among his books"The Dark Side of the Crescent Moon"is to be released in 2014.The book explores the impact of radical Islam on American/Russian relations.