Thursday, February 21, 2008

Islamic Jihad: Let's have a bake sale

I wasn't able to see Jeffrey Goldberg -- the author of "Prisoners: A Muslim and a Jew Across the Middle East Divide" who had a great Atlantic cover story this month on the future nations of the Middle East -- when he spoke at UCLA Hillel and Sinai Temple this month. But Jewish Current Issues has an interesting quote about the presidential election from his talk at the latter location.
There is almost this childish belief that on January 20, 2009 we will elect another president and that it will be Obama, or at least a woman, and the world will say “Oh great! Now we can like you again!”

There is this level of childish certainty in that -- that I find unfathomable. Because the next American president will have to advance America’s interests around the world. Some of those interests will have to be advanced in hard ways.

I predict that if Barack Obama becomes president, by late 2009 the stories in newspapers in Europe and on TV across the Arab world will be “Oh my God, this Obama is like Bush Lite!”

Why? Because he’s had to take hard steps in Afghanistan. Because he’s had to take hard steps in Pakistan. Because he hasn’t actually pulled out of Iraq, because pulling out of Iraq is not as easy as it sounds when you are debating Hillary Clinton on a stage somewhere. . . .

Because the next president -- whoever it is -- is going to face the same set of enormous problems, and like any president is going to have limited maneuverability to deal with those problems. And those problems are not going to go away. The Islamic Jihad is not going to say “Well! They elected Barack Obama! I guess we should just have a bake sale or something.”

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