An empty shell for Barack Obama’s foreign policy


Following the murder of the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, in Benghazi by Islamist terrorists connected to al-Qaida on the 11th anniversary of 9/11, the European press pronounced upon President Obama’s foreign policy in the Arab-Muslim world.

From Berlin, the German magazine Der Spiegel in its online English version ran the headline “Obama’s Middle East Policy Is In Ruins.” There is irony here since candidate Obama travelled to Berlin in July 2008 to present himself abroad declaring, “People of Berlin, people of the world, this is our moment. This is our time.”

In June 2009, President Obama went to Egypt and delivered his peace overture to the Arab-Muslim world. He came to Cairo, he said, to seek a new beginning between the U.S. and the Muslim world and to turn the page on what had gone before.

For Obama it was enough he spoke soothing words lauding Arab-Muslim history, praised Islam, and announced his own intimacy with Islam and Muslims, to bridge the differences and open a new era of peace in the Middle East. It was consistent with this view that President Obama embraced the Arab Spring as if it was a response to his overture. There was no need to be cautious since with the killing of Osama bin Laden the war on terrorism, he contended, had ended.

But the hard reality of the Arab-Muslim world cannot be wished away by soothing words of an American president even with an appealing biography. The Arab Spring turned out to be, as anyone familiar with the politics of the region well understood, a big hoax. It has been springtime for Islamists, and the Obama administration’s policy of embracing the Muslim Brotherhood has been as delusionary as Neville Chamberlain’s return with promises made by Hitler.

Four Americans killed in Benghazi by terrorists exposed the fecklessness of a policy built on the premise of appeasing Islamists in the region. The subsequent efforts to cover up the administration’s ineptness in providing security for the dead envoy in Libya, in blaming a third-rate video on prophet Mohammed for igniting mob violence across the Arab-Muslim world, and in being dismissive about perils resulting from the Arab Spring as “bumps on the road,” have only underlined the abysmal collapse of the public face of a policy sold as new beginning of American relationship with Muslim countries.

There is an argument to be made that President Obama’s foreign policy to shrink America’s footprint in world affairs has been deliberate. But the Obama administration cannot make this argument up front with the American people.

Consequently, a full-fledged effort by the Obama administration was mounted by senior officials to lie and obfuscate about a policy adopted in the bright flush of hope and change rhetoric that now lies shredded across the Arab-Muslim world.

Iran is closer to acquiring nuclear weapons presently than it was in January 2009, while America’s closest ally in the region, Israel, is downgraded and its leader insulted.

And Obama, preparing to debate Mitt Romney on foreign policy, remains an empty suit despite his demagogic skills. Romney likely will hand Obama his head again, watched by Americans in an encore performance of the first debate.


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Salim Mansur is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Western Ontario in Canada. He is a columnist for the London Free Press, for the conservative blog Proud To Be Canadian and the Toronto Sun, and has contributed to various publications including National Review, the Middle East Forum and Frontpagemag. He often presents analysis on the Muslim world, Islam, South Asia, Middle East. . He is a member of the Board of Directors for the Center for Islamic Pluralism based in Washington, D.C., a Senior Fellow with the Canadian Coalition for Democracies, and an academic-consultant with the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C. He has been a consultant with CIDA on development issues and has published widely in academic journals on foreign policy matters and area studies of the Middle East and South Asia. . Mansur is featured on the documentary Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West produced by the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He also unsuccessfully ran for the Canadian Alliance party in 2000. Mansur has been accused by Canadian Islamic Congress of using "provocative, self-serving rhetoric", and for "promoting an anti-Arab and anti-Muslim agenda". . Mansur is an Ismaili Muslim. . At a press conference on October 2, 2008, Mansur stated that "Islam is my private life, my conscience...[but] my faith does not take precedence over my Canada and its constitution, which I embrace freely;" "I am first and most importantly a Canadian;" "only in a free society will you find Islam as a faith and not a political religion." Mansur also criticized New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton, whom Mansur said "has gone to bed with Islamists", because he is running candidates in Ontario and Quebec who are closely identified with the push for Sharia law.