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Mr. Obama, Meet Mr. Jihadi

Written by Barry Rubin

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Barry Rubin
July 16, 2008
Barack Obama says regarding his thoughts after 9/11:
"The essence of this tragedy, it seems to me, derives from a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers: an inability to imagine, or connect with, the humanity and suffering of others. Such a failure of empathy, such numbness to the pain of a child or the desperation of a parent, is not innate; nor, history tells us, is it unique to a particular culture, religion, or ethnicity.

It may find expression in a particular brand of violence, and may be channeled by particular demagogues or fanatics. Most often, though, it grows out of a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair."

and that my friends is what you get with a Harvard education

It is sort of like the famous scene from Indiana Jones in reverse.
You may remember that Jones is confronted by a sword wielding powerful warrior (Afghan-type clothes) who swings his sword at him showing off his great skill. Jones pulls out his gun and shoots the guy once. This brought a big laugh when I saw the film in a theatre. This is called: Western technology wins.

Now here's my version. Jones, the epitome of modern sophisticated man in his expensive clothes and superior education, confronts the man with a brilliant series of arguments as to why it is in the warrior's interest to focus instead on raising his living standards, make peace, and get his own state. The warrior pulls out a small knife and cuts off Jones's head. Jones's colleagues then say that Jones had it coming due to his past sins, that we must understand the suffering that led to this violence, this shows the need for more negotiations and concessions, etc.

This is called: asymmetric warfare.
While Obama poses as the great cosmopolitan there is something very much in common between his statement on the September 11 terrorists and what he has to say on the rural and small town Americans, who he believes are attracted to their views only through low living standards, ignorance, and the follies of religion.

No one can think in a manner different from him. No one can hold another belief system and act on it. They are merely evincing, to use the Marxist term for it, false consciousness. He will educate them both directly by material goods and by proper information.

Ironically, this is the epitome of imperialist thinking and it is also intolerant and demeaning in the way that historic racism was. To run a country you must understand that other people have their own set of beliefs and interests; that they think differently from you; that you just cannot buy them off; that their behavior is not just a result of your mistakes in the past but of their own history and culture (which determines even how they react to your own behavior).

Not to mention the fact that the September 11 hijackers mostly came from wealthy families and the wealthiest of them all was Usama bin Ladin.

He might have grown up partly in Indonesia, he may have lived as a Muslim until age 10, but Obama's mentality is extraordinarily unsuited to understand the Third World, Middle East (or other dictatorships), terrorists (and their far more numerous supporters), or even the American people as a whole.

Perhaps Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran put it best, if I might paraphrase him: Anyone who thinks we staged a revolution because of the price of watermelons is a fool.

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Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). Prof. Rubin's columns can be read online.

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