The Obama administration does not seem tuned in to the concept of friends and enemies in the Middle East, except perversely. It undermines friends and takes a hands-off approach to enemies. I have the unsettling feeling that we will we end up frankly supporting the genocidal enemies of Israel and the United States in the Middle East. I have the unsettling feeling that we will end up supporting Hamas and Hezbollah if not Syria and Iran before Obama leaves the political stage. Why can’t the State Department give a straightforward answer to the question whether the United States will support a Fatah/Hamas government in the West Bank and Gaza? It’s not a difficult question.
And at home, the Obama Department of Justice has killed the prosecution of a the Holy Land Foundation co-conspirators who make up a Hamas front in the United States. As Andrew McCarthy put it, the department has prevented the prosecution of “Islamist organizations designated as unindicted coconspirators in the Hamas financing case — the prosecution in which five officials of an Islamic charity known as the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) were convicted and given long sentences.” Why would that be? It appears to have something to do with “outreach.”
We haven’t heard much about Libya lately. Should an American action intended to remove a tinpot dictator be stuck in neutral this late in the day? One wonders where the prince of Denmark is when you really need him. Hamlet, call your office.
Having expressed this thought on Friday, I see that Paul Rahe makes the case that Obama actually bears a certain resemblance to Shakespeare’s inaction hero. One could also make the case, however, that he bears a resemblance to Marc Antony, to Polonius, and to several other Shakespearian characters. I’m not sure which cuts closest to the core.
Ryan Lizza’s important New Yorker article quotes an anonymous Obama adviser describing Obama’s approach to the Libya kinesis as “leading from behind.” Charles Krauthammer devotes a good column to explicating the meaning of the phrase applied to Obama. Consider this passage:
“Obama came of age politically,” explains Lizza, “during the post-Cold War era, a time when America’s unmatched power created widespread resentment.” But the world did not begin with the coming to consciousness of Barack Obama. Cold War resentments ran just as deep.
It is the fate of any assertive superpower to be envied, denounced, and blamed for everything under the sun. Nothing has changed. Moreover, for a country so deeply reviled, why during the massive unrest in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, and Syria have anti-American demonstrations been such a rarity?
Who truly reviles America the hegemon? The world that Obama lived in and that shaped him intellectually: the elite universities; his Hyde Park milieu (including his not-to-be-mentioned friends, William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn); the church he attended for two decades, ringing with sermons more virulently anti-American than anything heard in today’s full-throated uprising of the Arab Street.
It is the liberal elites who revile the American colossus and devoutly wish to see it cut down to size. Leading from behind — diminishing America’s global standing and assertiveness — is a reaction to their view of America, not the world’s.
Other presidents take anti-Americanism as a given, rather than evidence of American malignancy, believing — as do most Americans — in the rightness of our cause and the nobility of our intentions. Obama thinks anti-Americanism is a verdict on America’s fitness for leadership. I would suggest that “leading from behind” is a verdict on Obama’s fitness for leadership.
The average American would describe the views of “the liberal elites” as anti-American, as Krauthammer thinks they are. Krauthammer tactfully says here that Obama shares these views, that Obama concurs in the anti-American verdict on America’s fitness for leadership. It’s a frame of mind that explains a lot. To borrow a phrase, it is “the most unkindest cut of all.”