OK, so here’s what President Barack Obama should say today about the Middle East. We will leave Afghanistan tomorrow. We will leave Iraq tomorrow. We will stop giving unconditional, craven support to Israel. Americans will force the Israelis – and the European Union – to end their siege of Gaza. We will withhold all future funding for Israel unless it ends, totally and unconditionally, its building of colonies on Arab land that does not belong to it. We will cease all co-operation and business deals with the vicious dictators of the Arab world – whether they be Saudi or Syrian or Libyan – and we will support democracy even in those countries where we have massive business interests. Oh yes, and we will talk to Hamas.
Of course, President Barack Obama will not say this. A vain and cowardly man, he will talk about the West’s “friends” in the Middle East, about the security of Israel – security not being a word he has ever devoted to Palestinians – and he will waffle on and on about the Arab Spring as if he ever supported it (until, of course, the dictators were on the run), as if – when they desperately needed his support – he had given his moral authority to the people of Egypt; and, no doubt, we will hear him say what a great religion Islam is (but not too great, or Republicans will start recalling the Barack Hussein Obama birth certificate again) and we will be asked – oh, I fear we will – to turn our backs on the Bin Laden past, to seek “closure” and “move on” (which I’m afraid the Taliban don’t quite agree with).
And so it continues.
With each word Fisk encapsulates the duplicity, despondence and cunning that is characterizing the contemporary Western approach to the region.
Which raises the question: after the revolutions in the region, how to revolutionize the negative approach of the West toward the Arab world?
For that will be the biggest challenge of all.