There is nothing at all surprising about Barack Obama’s reluctance to embrace the surge for freedom in Iran. As I’ve shown, he received his primer on the Middle East from Rashid Khalidi, who facilitated Obama’s formation as a Palestine-centric Third Worldist. In this view of things, only the situation of the Palestinians deserves to be described as “intolerable” —the word Obama used in Cairo—and action is promised only to them. Iranians are defrauded and assaulted by the bizarre dictatorship of the “Supreme Leader” and his Basiji minions? America, Obama says, is “watching.” Why? Obama’s master plan for the Middle East is supposed to commence with his entry to Jerusalem as the messiah of peace, godfather of the Palestinian state. Everything is supposed to follow from that.
Well, the Middle East doesn’t revolve around the Palestinians, and young Iranians don’t intend to wait for Mahmoud Abbas (emir of Ramallah, where there is a “good reality“) to get off his derrière before demanding their freedom. Iranians rightly think they’re no less worthy of the world’s sympathy than the Palestinians. (One of the chants of Iran’s protesters: Mardom chera neshastin, Iran shode Felestin! “People, why are you sitting down? Iran has become Palestine!”) Events in Iran have left Obama’s simplistic mental map of the Middle East, first learned from a few Palestinian activists and an old Hyde Park rabbi, in shreds.
We’re fortunate that this has happened now, and not a year down the line. The collapse of the Obama strategy has occurred early enough in his presidency to create an opening for alternative strategies. In October, I predicted that such alternatives “will become relevant in another two years, when reality sinks in and illusions are shed.” But it’s happened in only the five months since the inauguration. The reeducation of Barack H. Obama has to begin now.
Update: A friend of mine writes: “Comme on dit en français, tu vas un peu vite en besogne…” In other words, I’ve cut corners. Quite possibly. If I’d taken more time, I would have pointed out that Obama has also been taken in by the myth, to which he alluded in his Cairo speech, that all Iranians remain incensed by what the United States did to the “democratically-elected” Mossadegh government in 1953, as opposed to what has happened to them during the thirty years of democracy-deprivation since 1979.