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Obama's Middle East failure is liberalism's failure

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    FILE: Sept. 13, 2012: President Obama speaks during a campaign event in Golden, Colo.AP

It was in Cairo in June 2009 that President Obama announced he intended to forge a new relationship between the United States and the Middle East. Now we know he was right. Since the start of the so-called Arab Spring, it’s been retreat, humiliation, and now death for Americans, and chaos, danger, and terror for nearly everyone else.

The Middle East is on fire.

In the same city where Obama proclaimed his new policy, a mob has stormed the US embassy and shredded the American flag as they chanted: “We are all Usamas, Obama!” We’ve got an American ambassador and three others dead in Libya, another mob storming the embassy in Yemen, and embassies in Kuwait, Tunsia, and Algeria bracing for the same.

Syria is exploding in a civil war that threatens to draw in Turkey and Lebanon. Since our last troops left Iraq, that country has witnessed a vicious wave of suicide bombings, as well as a surge of Shia extremism. Meanwhile, Iran steadily enriches uranium for its atomic bomb; and the one US ally that dares to threaten Iran’s nuclear nirvana, Israel, gets the back of the hand from this president and his State Department–not to mention Democrats at their national convention.

Still, it’s crucial to understand we’re not just watching the failure of a president or a particular policy. On both foreign and domestic fronts, we’re living the failure of liberalism when it’s not checked.

It’s crucial to understand we’re not just watching the failure of a president or a particular policy.  On both foreign and domestic fronts, we’re living the failure of liberalism when it’s not checked.

Understanding the true agenda of liberalism–and I used to be a liberal myself–means grasping that liberalism only really fears two things: free market capitalism and American strength. Publicly liberals blast capitalism for lacking compassion, and for exploiting others for the sake of profit. But what they really fear is prosperity, the wealth capitalism creates that inspires people to assert their rights and disobey the dictates of government and its ruling elite.

That’s why liberals hated Reagan’s economic boom, and why our media and liberal elite aren’t distressed at having millions drop out of the private sector workforce, while unemployment is stuck at 8 percent.

In foreign affairs, liberals bemoan how our “arrogance of power” threatens international peace, and causes suffering and oppression around the world. But what they really fear is that a strong America will frustrate “objectively progressive forces” abroad, and leave it with no ideological allies in its struggle against capitalism here at home.

That’s why liberals were so tepid in their resistance to Communism during the Cold War, and to Islamic extremism today. It’s why they welcomed defeat in the Vietnam war and have done all they can to undermine the war on terror, including in Iraq.

And it’s why the Obama administration and its media allies seized on the Arab Spring, even its Islamist and Muslim Brotherhood garb. Their thinking was sick but simple: The Islamicists may be ignorant wife beaters and murderous thugs. But at least they share the same goal of an impotent America, just as the Soviets did, and the same nightmare: that of a US military base flanked by a McDonalds and a Wal-Mart.

Earlier this week I heard CNN’s Christiane Amanpour assure viewers that democracy in Libya and Egypt were still on track, and that the death of our ambassador and the burning of our flag were nothing to worry about. From her perspective, she’s probably right. For the rest of us, liberalism’s implosion of America at home and abroad is something we need to stop in November.

Historian Arthur Herman is author "The Cave and the Light: Plato Versus Aristotle, and the Struggle for the Soul of Western Civilization" (Random House 2013).