Obama's Mideast Meltdown

By Ferguson, Niall | Newsweek, September 24, 2012 | Go to article overview

Obama's Mideast Meltdown


Ferguson, Niall, Newsweek


Byline: Niall Ferguson

The president fiddles as the world burns.

Four years ago John McCain was campaigning on his foreign-policy experience when along came a financial crisis that killed his chances. This time around Mitt Romney has been campaigning on his economic experience. Now along comes a foreign-policy crisis. Will it kill his chances, too? Or can the Republicans finally land a punch on President Obama?

They really should be able to. Because what is unfolding in the Middle East has the makings of the most perfect storm in American foreign policy since 1979. You may recall what happened then. Another Islamist revolution. Another attack on a U.S. Embassy. Another Democrat in the White House.

This is what Jimmy Carter said in a speech on Feb. 7, 1980, as the Iranian hostage crisis entered its third month: "I have been struck ... by the human and moral values which Americans as a people share with Islam. We share, first and foremost, a deep faith in the one Supreme Being. We are all commanded by him to faith, compassion, and justice. We have a common respect and reverence for law ... On the basis of both values and interests, the natural relationship between Islam and the United States is one of friendship ... We have the deepest respect and reverence for Islam."

Remind you of anything? Try this: "I've come here ... to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles--principles of justice and progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings ... Let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America."

That was from a speech given by President Obama in Cairo on June 4, 2009. Funny how small a difference 30 years make. Same old pious hopes for respect, reverence for law, and tolerance. And, in return, the same disrespect, illegality, and intolerance. The embassy in Tehran then, the consulate in Benghazi now.

Here's what happens to American presidents who look to be loved in the Middle East. In 2008, the year Obama won the presidency with his pledge to end George W. Bush's wars, 75 percent of Egyptians had an unfavorable opinion of the United States. …

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