Is President Obama Detached From Reality?

By Dikran Abrahamian BA MD, Ontario, 10 April 2009

Agreed, it is an obnoxious question. One expects to hear such a rhetorical question from a die-hard neo-con. Nothing surprising there, but from a more liberal minded and outward looking person it is somewhat unusual.  Is it?
Peace Deal – A CBS Presentation (13:09min)

By Dikran Abrahamian BA MD, Ontario, 10 April 2009

Agreed, it is an obnoxious question. One expects to hear such a rhetorical question from a die-hard neo-con. Nothing surprising there, but from a more liberal minded and outward looking person it is somewhat unusual.  Is it?
Peace Deal – A CBS Presentation (13:09min)

During his recent tour in Europe and Turkey, the president sent lofty messages to the world at large, and specifically to the Muslim constituency with the intent of improving the tethered image of USA. Turkey was the launch pad from where Obama tried to reach out the Muslim world. Much is said – with deliberate exaggerations – about the pivotal role of Turkey, and there is no need of rehashing it here.

Three specific areas however, need further elaboration – Turkey’s entry into the European Union, its relations with the Transcaucasian neighbours, and the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Prior to flying to Ankara, President Obama helped broker a deal to appoint a Turkish deputy to Rasmussen of Denmark who became the new Secretary General of NATO. It was in response to Gul’s objections of how Rasmussen handled the situation following the publication of the infamous cartoon about the prophet Muhammad. He successfully argued that appointing Rasmussen would send a negative message to the Muslim world. In hindsight, it appears that Obama’s action was a goodwill gesture in anticipation of a friendly reception by the Turks.

While in Turkey, the president reaffirmed US commitment to support Turkey’s accession into the European Union, despite reservations from France and Germany. In addition to other reasons both countries have issues involving the Genocide. In France, the chamber of deputies recognizes the Genocide of the Armenians; its denail is cause for challenges in court. For Germany, having Turkey as a member state in the EU is rife with a serious problem.  Germany continues to provide remedies to the victims of the Holocaust, and the two stands could be incompatible.

What does Obama, or the US administration, propose to resolve this inherent contradictions? Does the President think that an unpalatable option can be imposed on Europe, or does he plan – over time – to actively urge Turkey to come to terms with its own past?

Turkey’s “flexibility” is well known. It simultaneously pursues leads in various directions.  While being a member of NATO and treading the roads to Europe, it is cozying up with Russia.

Additionally, what is bothersome – and not sufficiently covered in public discourse – is that Turkey continues to suffer from megalomania. It aspires to bring all countries with Turkic ethnic origin under the same roof – extending from the western borders of China to the southeastern borders of Europe. Albania, and some other smaller jurisdictions are not excluded.

This plays well in the hands of corporations whose loyalties do not include mother countries. They are transnational, abiding by their own rules, and recognizing no territorial sovereignties.

Furthermore, irredentism is part and parcel of Turkey’s international outlook. It has committed enormous amounts and energy in establishing a network of trans-territorial organizations, NGOs, social clubs, lobbies. In this process It has designated funds to a state sponsored propaganda machine to combat recognition of the Genocide of the Armenians. It has already pocketed Azerbaijan in this devious plan, and along the way tries to recruit other countries.

How is one to reconcile these divergent ambitions of Turkey? On the one hand, become part of the European family, but simultaneously be the leader of Turkic nations with an agenda of quashing efforts to recognize the Genocide, contrary to Obama’s convictions. The thoughtful and extremely knowledgeable president assuredly has considered all these elements. Nevertheless, does he have an answer to how he plans to maneuver through this cobble manufactured by Turkey?

The inheritor state of the remnants of the Ottoman Empire may be helpful to diffuse some of the tensions in the region, being in speaking terms with various parties as diverse as Israel and Iran. However, that state, so far, has not shown any significant PR skills within its own borders. On the contrary, instead of addressing the legitimate concerns of its own people – the Kurds for example– through negotiations, it resorted to the use of force, causing insurgencies, rise of militant groups, outright military excursions and 40,000 deaths in the past two decades.

Moreover, the illegal unilateral closure of the border with Armenia disqualifies Turkey from being an honest “broker”. It is an act more befitting to a bully. Despite Obama’s expectations that this matter could or should quickly get resolved, Turkey maintains the position that resolution of Karabagh status to Azerbaijan’s satisfaction be a precondition. Is that what Obama has in mind?

Overriding all above problems is the Israeli-Arab hostility. Obama knows all too well that “partnership with the Muslim world” is impossible without a just resolution of this conflict. As the years go by, the region’s history is written with blood. Obama promises to support the "goal" of two states: an independent Palestine along Israel.

Is it not unrealistic though, at present to achieve that goal when close to three-hundred-thousand settlers inhabit the West Bank? They are ready to fight tooth and nail to keep the colonized lands. A recent CBS report – shown above – is a graphic presentation which is hard to ignore. In the unlikely event that the present government in Israel agrees to such a solution, it will be contrary to all what the principle members of the cabinet believe in, preach and practice.

What about having a unified state, an idea that is floating around? Even Libya’s Muammar al-Gaddafi advocated for it in a recent article. That is not in the interest of Israel either if democratic principles are adhered to in the new entity, for the simple reason that the Palestinians will constitute a majority.

The third option is the status quo, which is replete with more violence, atrocities, restrictions and humiliation of the Palestinians. The present authorities in Israel are de facto promoting it, with the hope that down the road an opportunity will avail itself to impose a solution in favor of Israel.

Is there a prospect of “partnership” with the Muslim world in the above uninspiring picture? — may be with some of the current autocratic Arab regimes, which for decades are loathed by their own people. 

It is common knowledge that persistence of the Israeli-Arab conflict is one of the powerful motivating factors to replenish the ranks of all those clandestine and not so clandestine organizations that the west likes to classify as terrorist – whether they are called Hamas or Hezb Allah, Jihadist or Al-‘Qaida. Historically, what binds them all, is the tremendous insult that the west has inflicted on people in the region, and the profound mistrust towards the west since the infamous Balfour declaration.
Even if Iraqi sovereignty is reestablished and Afghanistan probably becomes a livable place, without an independent Palestine the goal to forge a true “partnership” has little chance to materialize.  It will remain an elusive dream.   

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