Obama’s Recovery from Ahmadinejad’s Politics

Par Rouba al-Fattal le 27 décembre 2010

 

Two are not fit for a political office: the religious man, if he is sincere, and the true intellectual. The religious system is based on sacred constants, while the political system is chaotic based on constantly changing variables. No compromise can exist on religious dogmas, but politics is the art of negotiation and settlement. Policy maneuvers are not void of plots and deceptions, while bargaining is off-limits to the true religious, either you accept all of God’s commands or you exit the circle of the pure faithful. So, how could a dogmatic cleric turn into a professional politician?

Saddam launched a deadly war, which Khomeini maintained for eight years, exhausting a youthful generation in its fires. No holiness to a religious cleric meddling in politics. Some Islamists leaders such as Hassan Nasrallah, the current Secretary General of Hezbollah, may use procrastination policy to maintain his alleged purity from political assassinations and party’s involvement, but he does not bargain. His rigid position has cost his people their lives and may cost Lebanon another civil war.

The bookworm intellectual is the other person who is unfit for politics. It is not necessary for a politician to be an intellect or a thinker. Education cultures ordinary people to step up to the rank of the ideal. A truly intellectual person is honest with himself and with his ideals. He has attitudes and ethics forcing him to be sincere with others. From here stems the misery of the intellectual with his political life. Form here too comes the failure of Arab intellectuals (and they do exist) in their political life, where the uneducated soldiers succeeded. The latter are professional realists undeterred by ideals of culture and humanity.

In government, President Obama seems to be that intellectual: eloquent in his speeches, slow in his decisions, hesitant in his actions. These same criteria have undermined his achievements (education system reforms, health care extension, financial market regulations) rendering them unpopular. They were seen as either negligible by their proponents, or relying heavily on the state by their opponent in a country that worships individual initiatives and the drudgery of work.

President Obama is still an intellectual mystery. The liberals accuse him of not bringing enough change as his campaign slogans have promised; the conservative right suspect him for being a socialist, where socialism in America is an affront requiring a firm denial; and the racial and religious right taunt him for his color and his father’s religion. Hence, his aides and advisors began to abandon him, withdrawing one after the other from his intellectual and political circle.   

Today, intellectual Obama packs what is left of his will and youth, returning alone to a Republican House and a more polarized Senate, trying to save his party after what seems to be an electoral disaster. These midterm elections mark a watershed moment before this President, who is threatened with further political paralysis and the possibility of non-renewal in November 2012. 

One of the biggest foreign policy problems of an intellectual Obama is his weak stance on Iran’s nuclear ambitions. It seems that his dreams of a multipolar world free of nuclear weapons stand in a sharp contrast to Ahmadinejad’s cunning and quest for power. 

The U.S. laggard attitude, the deep divisions between Arab political factions, and the weakness of the Arab official position have been encouraging Iran to breakthrough Arab spheres of influence on all fronts with professional slyness. Obama’s administration, until now, did not manage to exploit and expose the contradictions of the Iranian project to the Arab audience which is deluded by the camouflaged Iranian propagandas: sectarian in Iraq, doctrinal in Lebanon, and Islamic in Gaza.

So, what has changed from the age of Bushes’ ignorance to the age of Obama’s enlightenment? Despite Obama’s efforts to bridge Islam and the West, the political hobbyist lost in the face of the political professional Ahmadinejad. But due to this failure, the Islamic world has already moved from a culture of “rejection” to Israel to a culture of “opposition” to all that is American, including its relationship with Israel. This sets a difficult stage ahead of a Republican government that is seen as more hostile to the Islamic world than its Liberal counterpart, making it harder for the U.S. to protect and advance its interests in this region.

 

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