On Sixty Minutes tonight, President Obama was asked: “Have the events that took place in the Middle East, the recent events in the Middle East given you any pause about your support for the governments that have come to power following the Arab Spring?” Obama responded:
Well, I’d said even at the time that this is going to be a rocky path. . . .I was pretty certain and continue to be pretty certain that there are going to be bumps in the road because, you know, in a lot of these places the one organizing principle has been Islam. The one part of society that hasn’t been controlled completely by the government.
This is an intriguing answer. First, it stikes me as an admission that Islam is an obstacle to the positive developments Obama hoped for following the Arab Spring. But isn’t this an insult to Islam, that great religion of peace? Let’s hope that no one converts Obama’s sentiment into a cartoon or movie trailer.
But second, why does Obama view the influence of Islam in the “Arab Spring” states as only a “bump in the road”? If Islam has been “the one organizing principle” (other than now defunct dictatorships) in these states, then we should expect these states to be organized around Islam. And since Islam admits to no competing organizing principle, we should expect the problems we have witnessed so far to persist and, if anything, get worse for quite some time.
That sounds more like a roadblock than a bump in the road.