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November 29, 2010

Wikileaks Revelation: Obama's Middle East Experts Don't Really Understand Middle East, Arabs

Omri Ceren over at Big Peace points out that one of the revelations from Wikileaks is confirmation on how badly Obama and his advisers misunderstood the actual views of Arab leaders.

It's been a long tradition among the Arab countries to publicly blame all of their ills on Israel and the unresolved Palestinian-Jewish conflict. Of course this is mostly propaganda aimed at deflecting their own people's anger away from their repressive governments - in private the Arab rulers are far more concerned about the Iranian threat than Israel or the conditions of the benighted Palestinian people.

bowSaudiKing.jpg

And the Arab leaders like Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah just assumed that the Obama administration was sophisticated enough to understand that this was all public posturing purely for domestic consumption. But when Obama came visiting in June 2009 on his way to give his Cairo speech, they found out how wrong they were. And the trip was something of a disaster:

Under this theory King Abdullah expected to talk about militarily confronting Iran, and he couldn’t believe it when Obama kept reciting bromides about the earth-shattering importance of the Israeli/Arab conflict and his enthusiasm for solving it. That was a regular public topic between the two – Obama’s first talk with Abdullah focused on Gaza and the President later emphasized his abiding support for Saudi Arabia’s “Israel Has To Commit Suicide” plan – but the King kind of thought he was dealing with a serious person who could separate spectacle from policy. Instead he got the equivalent of an International Relations graduate student enamored with pseudo-sophisticated “insights” he’d gleaned from Arab media outlets. Ergo, meltdown.

So not only did Obama and his vaunted middle east policy experts get this wrong, but they seem to have learned nothing from this brush with reality since then. What's worse than having a naive, foolish view of the world? Well how about having a naive, foolish view of the world and then thanks to Wikileaks having it made public for all to see. Even the hapless Jimmy Carter didn't have to deal with that.


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posted by Maetenloch at 06:33 PM

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