Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tactical Error

Stopping by for a visit in Turkey at the end of his European trip, President Obama has been going out of his way to appeal to Muslims and assure them that we mean them no harm. At one point I could have sworn I heard strains of Kumbaya floating on the gentle breeze in Arabic. He claimed that the United States "is not and never will be at war with Islam", much to the delight of many in the Arab community.

Speaking to the Turkish parliament on Monday, Obama also seemed to take yet another swipe at his predecessor, but it was his choice of analogy that struck me as being utterly at odds with his own economic philosophy. Referring to the current "war on terror" - for lack of a term of which he'd approve - Obama also said, "you cannot put out fire with flames", which I have previously argued is precisely his preferred method for dealing with our financial woes.

Alas, I digress...

His rhetoric in Turkey may be pleasing to Arab ears, but he may be committing a tactical error, sacrificing future peace and security for a brief and immediate pat on the back from people who can't quite grasp the fact that they are unlikely to get what they ultimately want. It's a dangerous game Obama is playing for a gratification that is destined to be short-lived, and I wouldn't mind at all if it were his own personal risk at stake, but that is obviously not the case. He is putting us all at risk with his posturing while sending an erroneous message to the Arabs. Either that, or they are not quite receiving it correctly, but they are clearly getting the wrong idea.

Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit is a prime example of this, exhibiting a cautious exuberance at Obama's words. In Cairo on Monday, he told reporters, "We appreciate the new more advanced position of the US towards the Muslim world". He added, "The Arab-Israeli conflict and the continuation of Israel's occupation of Arab lands constitutes a main cause of tension in the world which feeds extremist and terrorist forces," signalling a belief that under Obama the U.S. is somehow going to oust Israel from the region.

With a people who become so incensed by a mere artist's rendering of their god that they will burn alive innocents or saw off the heads of others, it is not considered very wise to dangle a carrot only to yank it just out of reach. The longer the taunted is led to believe that the carrot is attainable, the more volatile the reaction when the reality that it is not sets in, and as we have learned from events not so distant, the explosion could be terrible.

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1 comment:

Wild said...

The longer the taunted is led to believe that the carrot is attainable, the more volatile the reaction when the reality that it is not sets in, and as we have learned from events not so distant, the explosion could be terrible.

Oddly enough, when that carrot is so promised, possession seems accomplished. When that carrot is not delivered, it is the US who took Palestine away from the "rightful owners".