WHOSE LENS: MCCAIN'S OR OBAMA'S?
FT columnist Philip Stephens writes:
Mr Obama describes the world as is; Mr McCain as it seemed to be during that fleeting unipolar moment. America's voters will decide in November which of these lenses they prefer to look.
Well, this voter prefers to look at Obama's lens. It is prettier and more comforting. But I knows that taking my eyes off the McCain lens will put my life in jeopardy. For the world is not as Obama describes it and Islamist terror has nothing to do with the fleeting unipolar moment. If the US and Israel disappeared tomorrow would Jihadist stop their terror campaign agaist India where they only last week they killed 80 in Jaipur in order to"blow part of your tourism structure” and, second, to “demolish your faith in the dirty mud, in the name of Hanuman, Sita [and] Ram”.?!
Stephens is not alone in his wish to make the world go away. Rather, his mood is representative of that of the liberal/leftist transnational elite that believes it found a champion in Obama. If avoiding reality means expunging the historical record and making mass executioners like Che Guevara into heroes, wannabe Hitlers like Ahmadinejad into a trustworthy negotiating partners, and putting up with a"reasonable number" of terrorist attacks as India has been so virtuously been doing, it is a price they will gladly pay. After all, what are the chances that they personally will be the victims?!
Moreover, they resent Bush for selfishly keeping terror away from America. So doing merely is increasing terror elsewhere, they argue. They also insist that war in Iraq created more terrorists and so has the war on terror as a whole. Evidence to the contrary be damned or at least covered up. For it, like progress in Iraq, will merely strengthen the hands of inconvenient realistic like McCain and his old fashioned patriotic supporters. Already, these appeasing transnational elites have succeeded in convincing the British government not to use the term"war on terror" anymore and the American government not to talk of Jihadists.
President Obama, Europeans believe will enable them to be the Swisstype free riders, another FT columnist Gideon Rachman explains Europeans so yearn to be and, indeed, already are. Moreover, Obama will not challenge the morality or wisdom of their choice. If anything, he will hold them up as the example America should follow.
The trouble, Kishore Mahbubani of Singapore notes is that reality bites:
The Swiss can feel secure because they are surrounded by Europe. The Europeans can only feel insecure because they are surrounded by an arc of instability, from north Africa to the Middle East, from the Balkans to the Caucasus. . . . . while America is protected by the vast Atlantic ocean, Europe feels . . . Islamic anger directly because of its geographical proximity to the Middle East and its large domestic Islamic populations.
In other words, the average European like the average American has reasons for feeling insecure. They have real enemies, of the kind the"annoying" McCain worries about. But do not assume that Kishore wants Europe to join the war against terror. No, he wants Europe to rely on Asia instead of on the US because Asia is will solve Europe's Jihadist problem. All it would take is patience and forgetting (at least for the time being) about such unimportant issues as democracy or human rights:
The real irony here is that Asia is doing much more to enhance long-term European security than America is. The Asian march to modernity, which began in Japan and is now sweeping through China and India, is poised to enter the Islamic world in west Asia. When this march enters the Islamic world, Europe will be surrounded by modern, middle-class Muslim states.
Hence, Europe should encourage Muslims to look at China, India and Asean as their new development models. The success of the Beijing Olympics could help to ignite new dreams of modernisation among disaffected Islamic youth, who will ask why their societies cannot prosper like China. In short, if Ms Merkel and Mr Sarkozy could think strategically and long-term, they should enthusiastically participate in and cheer the success of the Olympics. When the Islamic world is finally modernized, Europe can go back to being a giant Switzerland again.
Sounds very convincing, doesn't it? The trouble is that no where is Jihadism as strong and virulent as in West Asia. Moreover, Singapore where Kishore lives borders Muslim Malaysia and Indonesia both of which have strong Islamists movements. In other words, Asian Kishore is just as blind as European Rahman and American transnational supporters of Obama. They all deserve the"disrespect" with which David Brooks complains we treat them. For they are not real Alpha Geeks. Real Alpah geeks are mathematicians and physicists like Einstein, pacifists who do not shirk reality but write a letter to FDR warning him not to stand idly by while Hitler may be developing a nuclear weapon.
As Israel's founding father, David Ben Gurion said and as I believe American John McCain, though not Barack Obama, would second though replacing Israel with the US, national security trumps all:
I have many values I hold dear, some are Jewish and others universal. . . . I care about literature, philosophy, science and social science. But I have to confess to my narrow point of view: Nothing is more important to me than national security. If they give me a choice between the highest human ideals and the national security of Israel, I will choose unhesitatingly Israeli security and not because I do not believe in ideals but because"not the dead will praise Thee." We have the right to live and that I consider the primary right and the primary concern."
For the first time in American history we may elect a president who does not share Ben Gurion's view and that is scary.
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E. Simon - 5/25/2008
As an Israeli you should not make Klinghoffer's mistake of seeing Obama through the eyes of Israeli demagoguery and Middle Eastern political rhetoric. He's not an isolationist. That's ridiculous. The Bush administration already meets w/Iran through back channels and Obama might just be advertising that possibility in order to appeal to the substantial segment of the electorate that doesn't see significant gains from what comes across as the Bush administration's intransigent "pride protection mode" of diplomacy.
As an Israeli terrified by the possibility of talking with rogue dictatorships you might want to focus your attention on the fact that your government is meeting with Hamas and Syria at this very moment while applauding Bush in the Knesset for warning Americans not to do what both he and they already do. The fact is that that there is no reason why Iran's energies need to be chained up to the Arabian political orbit and while Obama could walk out of any meeting with them, it doesn't hurt his campaign, American foreign policy or anyone else to express openness to the idea absent any preconditions or willingness to concede anything.
And finally, neither you or Klinghoffer have a choice. Incorporating the specter of political assassination into her communications makes Hillary unqualified to go any further and McCain, for reasons both related and unrelated to those you must admire in Bush will not be able to compete that easily in the general election.
Ken Besig - 5/25/2008
As an Israeli I am terrified by the growing possibility that Barak Obama will be elected the next president of the United States. He is a strict isolationist who strangely believes that he can talk rogue dictatorships out of their aggression, and will make the nuclear arming of Iran a fact, and Iran's subsequent attacks, along with Hamas, Hizballah, Syria, and Lebanon on Israel inevitable.
E. Simon - 5/23/2008
The one candidate out of the three who actually agrees with economists (or as Hillary "Huey Long" Clinton calls them, "elitists",) on their view that relaxing the gas tax is a scam, is the one whose statements are mostly "not factual"?
The candidate who opposed Hillarity's call to freeze mortgage prices is the one partial to Marxism? The candidate who opposes forced health care mandates is the one partial to Marxism?
The fact that Hillary has been running a campaign she still says she hopes to win, in defiance of the laws of arithmetic for at least the last two months, tells any voter with a brain all they need to know about the level of the candidates' respective concern for factual reality.
E. Simon - 5/23/2008
Ms. Klinghoffer is right. Terrorism is the only issue of consequence in the world, and the only issue of consequence to America. We should fight one big endless war against it and ignore everything else related to it or not. If not, the monstrous behemoth that is Iran will soon undoubtedly possess enough fissile material to destroy the world 50 times over. We have no other choice but to destroy it first. America's existence is imperiled and hangs in the same sort of balance that Israel's did during the wake of its independence. We should treat the Iranian government the way we did the much less threatening Soviet government - by never talking to it until they give up this nonsense notion that they are a significant nation and by pretending that their citizens who oppose the regime and love America will find nothing useful to come out of diplomacy because the only thing that can come out it is concessions to the regime, and we will address no other issues - nothing that will make any difference to the people of Iran. We should assume that any time our president meets with another leader he will never leave a strong impression on them (because Bush's strongest inclination is to do nothing other than mentally masturbate on his ranch all day), he will never have tough words for them, and that they will assume that the mere act of meeting with them proves his subservience to them. (Just like Israel's newly revealed negotiations with Damascus proves their subservience to Syria).
In the meantime, we should write ill-informed blog posts recycling right-wing talking points about how renewable energy is a scam that will kill the economy, and never address the American addiction to fossil fuels and the ginormous automobiles they use that get barely than 20 mpg if you're lucky. We should pretend that there are only two sides to every story - the one the fools believe and the one believed by everyone who can dream of later justifying their self-proclaimed prophet status with a "See, I told you so". We should relegate our understandings of history and politics to two areas: WWII and Israel's 60-year history. That will teach us all we need to know in order to play the only viable option of a surely limited number of roles that we will forever be destined to act out. The world really is just that small a place and our options really are that limited. Our minds need only be just big enough to comprehend that there is evil in the world, and individuals with no other interests to which one can appeal other than that unbridled, craven will to evil, no other scenarios into which we can manipulate the situations in which these evil people act, and if we don't get more monomaniacal in our pursuit of the absolute destruction of all evil in the world, we will soon be living like Luke Skywalker did on Tatooine before he became a galactic hero and destroyed the Death Star. And as Princess Leia can attest to, that's no way to live. We humbly appeal to Obi wan Klinghoffer to teach us how to release the power of the force and not succumb to the Dark Side - of civil liberties, energy efficiency, bipartisanship, and other trivia.
Nancy Coppock - 5/23/2008
Mr. Obama talks a lot, but most, if not all, of what he says is not factual. If one doesn't understand the past, then how can anything said about the future be bear any resemblance to reality? It is a tragedy that in Obama's lens America is more guilty because we are not perfect than the evil regimes of Marxism and Islamofascism that murder senselessly every day and imprison those that disagree with these brutal leaders.
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