Everything I know about the Middle East
I learned at Starfleet Academy
The other day I pointed out that:
…thousands of political bloggers who have never lived outside of the city in which they were born and who have absolutely no experience in Middle East affairs will now tell you what this all means, how this will impact the region, and what to expect by drawing upon their extensive background in World of Warcraft and a hardly used MCSE certification.
I obviously neglected to include Star Trek fanboys.
Michelle Malkin Employee of the Month, Cap’n (Special) Ed reads this:
Obama’s approach to Iran, including his assertion that the unrest there represents a debate among Iranians unrelated to the United States, is an acknowledgment that a U.S. president’s words have a limited ability to alter foreign events in real time and could do more harm than good. But privately Obama advisers are crediting his Cairo speech for inspiring the protesters, especially the young ones, who are now posing the most direct challenge to the republic’s Islamic authority in its 30-year history.
and has a Malkinesque Meltdown:
This is the most despicable, self-serving, and arrogant spin I’ve seen yet from this White House, and that’s saying something. Obama gave a speech, and suddenly the people of Iran discovered that they’re being ruled by tyrants? Never mind that two weeks passed between the speech and the uprising, and that the very obvious trigger for the unrest was the incompetent manner in which the mullahs rigged the election for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Never mind the fact that this President took a full week to even sound like a watered-down Nicolas Sarkozy, let alone the leader of the free world.
Fuck Yeah! Also.
Barack Obama spoke in Cairo two weeks ago. The Middle East has been roiling since. The street scenes in Iran have pushed the surprise pro-Western victory in Lebanon’s elections out of the headlines, along with Benjamin Netanyahu’s pained, precondition-crippled acceptance of a two-state solution and the enraged Palestinian response. Two top Israeli intelligence figures scaling down the Iranian nuclear threat from looming Holocaust to mid-range risk — a major story for a calm week — has gone almost unnoticed.
So did Obama set this off, or was he like the king in The Little Prince who ordered the sun to rise at the precise moment when it would have done so anyway? With that come two more questions: Will the crisis in Iran shake up the region even more? And what should Obama do in response?
Let’s go a step at a time. And assume that the requisite qualifier — everything could change in an hour — is present in every sentence.
First, the Obama Effect: The standard, and well-founded, view is that Iran has come apart on its own. Under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the regime has been more oppressive than under his predecessors — harassing intellectuals, journalists, and bloggers. Young Iranians have supported reformist candidates in past elections; this time their vehicle was Mir Hussein Mousavi.
That said, Mousavi did attack Ahmadinejad for destroying Iran’s international image with his delusional statements, especially his denial of the Holocaust. Were Bush still president, suggests Meir Litvak, a senior fellow at Tel Aviv University’s Center for Iranian Studies, the criticism wouldn’t have resonated. Iranians would have felt, "What difference does it make how we look in the world? The Americans despise us anyway." Facing Obama and his call for dialogue, "how Iran is seen is important, at least to some Iranians."
Psssh. What would a senior fellow at Tel Aviv University’s Center for Iranian Studies know of such things? I would totally go with the former call center manager from the Midwest…which is just like the Middle East only more to the left and, like, up a little.