The Arabs Have Stopped Applauding

(Wall Street Journal) Fouad Ajami - In the Arab-Islamic world, Barack Obama has come down to earth. He has not made the world anew, history did not bend to his will, the Indians and Pakistanis have been told that the matter of Kashmir is theirs to resolve, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the same intractable clash of two irreconcilable nationalisms, and the theocrats in Iran have not "unclenched their fist," nor have they abandoned their nuclear quest. Obama's election has not drained the swamps of anti-Americanism. That anti-Americanism is endemic to this region, an alibi and a scapegoat for nations, and their rulers, unwilling to break out of the grip of political autocracy and economic failure. It predated the presidency of George W. Bush and rages on during the Obama presidency. In an effort to resolve the fight between Arab and Jew over the land between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean, the Obama diplomacy had made a settlement freeze its starting point, when this was precisely the wrong place to begin. Israel has given up settlements before at the altar of peace - recall the historical accommodation with Egypt a quarter century ago. The right course would have set the question of settlements aside as it took up the broader challenge of radicalism in the region - the menace and swagger of Iran, the arsenal of Hamas and Hizbullah, the refusal of the Arab order of power to embrace in broad daylight the cause of peace with Israel. The writer, a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, is a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.

2009-11-30 09:28:55

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