Mixed messages from Obama and the Middle East perspective

The president has sent confusing messages to the Middle East, and they in return have done the same. We are now paying the consequences of a lack of coherent policy.

CHARLOTTESeptember 17, 2012 ― The Obama administration and the U.S. State Department are steadfast in their insistence that a movie mocking Islam and the Prophet Muhammad are the source of widespread violence throughout the Middle East.

Hillary Clinton termed the YouTube film “disgusting” on more than one occasion, taking every opportunity to say in unequivocal terms that the video was not sanctioned by the U.S. government and in no way reflects American opinions of Islam.

Clearly the film is provocative, distasteful and amateurish. If the intent was to be offensive to Muslims in the Middle East and around the world, it succeeded. The extent of the reaction was probably unanticipated, and the overwhelming results only serve to magnify the lack of a cohesive message on both sides regarding Islamic policies.

For Clinton’s part, as Secretary of State she crisscrossed the region hundreds of times during the past four years, only to have her diplomatic efforts instantaneously hijacked by a ridiculous piece of video.

As for Barack Obama, the narcissistic high-fiving of his flawed foreign policy has been exposed as incoherent, naïve and incongruent. The same was true of his slogan of “hope and change” and efforts with healthcare reform and the economy.

Such miscalculations regarding the Middle East only serve to highlight the fact that no amount of negotiation with that region has any permanence. It is always, at best, a fragile alliance with temporary significance that reinforces candidate Obama’s lack of understanding and inflated ego when he stated that he could “negotiate” with the Islamic world.

But there are also misunderstanding and confusing mixed messages coming from the Middle East. If such feelings are representative of the true beliefs throughout the region, then Obama’s interpretation of events of the recent past in the Middle East is totally inaccurate.

In a column in The Arab News, the English newspaper in Saudi Arabia, Dr. Khalid Alnowaiser, a Saudi attorney with offices in Riyadh and Jeddah, writes, “Many Arabs believe that the Arab Spring is a Western, and more specifically an American, plan to divide the Middle East into smaller rival nations to breed discord and plunder their wealth. Some subscribe to the theory that recent events in Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria point to a calculated plot to destroy Arab and Islamic countries and wipe out their rich heritage and history.”

“I am not at all surprised if they are planning to achieve their strategic goals by all available means to protect their interests in the Middle East. This is what all previous civilizations — including the Arab and Islamic civilization — have striven for over the centuries. The love of domination and control and the lust for money and power over other people and nations have been a common objective for all of these civilizations.”

Alnowaiser’s statements will come as a huge surprise to Americans. Since the days of the Declaration of Independence, the United States has never stood for “domination and control” over any nation. Such a concept is so foreign to American ideals that is incomprehensible to us  that someone would believe it of us. 

 Dr. Alnowaiser continues, “The Arab Spring is a phenomenon of ordinary citizens rebelling against repression, much like other well-known revolutions. Underlying conditions such as extreme poverty, frightening ignorance, illiteracy, and widespread corruption must be addressed by new governments regardless of their adherence to democratic principles. We must take responsibility for our mistakes. If it is true that the entire world is scheming to divide the Middle East and steal our resources, we should accept that reality and start thinking immediately of how to build an intellectual, cultural and civilized plan to combat the situation rather than continue to complain and wallow in fear.”

Muhammad used the “underlying conditions” expressed by Dr. Alnowaiser as a primary tool for the evolution of Islam. The fear that the entire world is scheming to conquer the Middle East is typical of the paranoia that is rampant throughout the region. Though it does not justify the reactions of Muslims throughout the Middle East to the victimization of a ridiculous video, it does provide insight as to how such a presentation could incite them to the violence which occurred.

The situation has progressed to such an extent that Egypt’s top Muslim cleric, Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayyeb, has called for an international ban on all forms of attack against Islam. Says Tayyeb, the resolution should “criminalize attacks on Islamic symbols and on those of other religions after the violence against those who provoked challenges to world peace and international security.”

 Tayyeb’s comments are completely self-serving. In reality he is only concerned about Islamic symbols. Other religions be damned because other religions do not respond or react in the same way as Muslims.

 On Saturday, Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, denounced attacks on diplomats and embassies as un-Islamic.

While denouncing the attacks is admirable, what does Al-Asheikh mean by “un-Islamic?”

Sura 8:59 of the Koran refutes the Grand Mufti’s statement, “The infidels should not think that they can get away from us.  Prepare against them whatever arms and weaponry you can muster so that you can terrorize them.”

There are vagaries and misconceptions on both sides, and such mixed messages will continue, because they are inherent in Barack Obama’s administrative philosophy as well as the mindset of the Middle East.

Like oil and water, the two don’t mix.

Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in Charlotte, NC. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club, which creates, and escorts customized tours to Switzerland, France and Italy for groups of 12 or more. Inquiries for groups can be made at Peabod@aol.com Taylored Media has produced marketing videos for British Rail, Rail Europe, Switzerland Tourism, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council, the Finnish Tourist Board, the Swiss Travel System and Japan Railways Group among others. As author of The Century Club book, Peabod is now attempting to travel to 100 countries or more during his lifetime. To date he has visited 69 countries. Suggest someplace new for Bob to visit; if you want to know where he has been, check his list on Facebook. Bob plans to write a sequel to his book when he reaches his goal of 100 countries. He also played professional baseball for four years and was a sportscaster for 14 years at WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte.



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Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com) and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.


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