Lee Smith wrote the book on The Strong Horse: Power, Politics, and Arab Civiilization (just out in paperback). The premise of the book, the quote from which the title is taken — “When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse” — derives from Osama bin Laden.
As Daniel Pipes wrote in National Review, Smith argues that the strong-horse principle, not Western imperialism or Zionism, “has determined the fundamental character of the Arabic-speaking Middle East.” The policies of non-Arab actors must be forceful and persistent. Or else, as Pipes explicates Smith, they lose.
So Barack Obama, you might ask, strong horse or weak horse? This isn’t a difficult question, but there is no one better than Smith to answer the question:
Here’s a mismatch: While Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi is flying in mercenaries from around Africa to ensure the survival of his regime, President Obama is dispatching his diplomatic corps to Europe and the Middle East for consultations regarding the impending civil war in the North African state. It will be interesting to see how U.S. envoys are received by Washington’s Arab allies, especially in Riyadh, where King Abdullah was once targeted by Qaddafi to be “killed either through assassination or through a coup.”
[T]he comparison between Obama’s strong words for Mubarak, a one-time pillar of American Middle East strategy, and his near absolute silence on Qaddafi, whose hands are dripping with American blood after four decades of terrorism, shows the Arabs that the White House is not serious but incoherent. The president cannot even abide by the one principle that has seemed to guide his Middle East policy since his 2009 Cairo speech–his personal public outreach to the Muslim masses.
In his timely Weekly Standard article Smith makes the case that Obama is “A weak horse in the White House.”
JOHN adds: Horse, camel–the metaphor is a little mixed, but Michael Ramirez’s commentary is apt; click to enlarge: