Fresh off of his convincing electoral victory last November, Barack Obama is managing to hold his own against the Republican Party in Congress in a series of government-funding-crisis confrontations. He still gets pretty good mileage from campaign-like trips out to the boondocks beyond D.C. to gather political support, buoyed by his strong poll-numbers.
But that’s within the US borders. In the Middle East, on the other hand, he’s not so popular, as the Süddeutsche Zeitung reminds us:
Yet that is where the President is currently off to, namely to Israel, where, as the journalist Peter Münch puts it
In the West Bank they have abused his pictures with shoes and set them on fire, in Israel a survey has shown that only 1 out of ten likes him.
Wait, doesn’t anyone remember Obama’s epic 2009 Cairo speech, reaching out to Iran and to the Arab world? Yet now he is disliked from all sides! Why is that?
Obama’s first foray into the Near East peace process failed because it was well-meant but not well-made. In the manner of an itinerant preacher he made loud promises that he could not keep, and added to them mild threats that he withdrew at the slightest resistance. This lack of consistency has exacted a bitter revenge: the region drifts towards new conflicts and the USA has lost influence there.
Yes, and there was the minor additional thing that Binyamin Netanyahu openly campaigned last year for Obama’s Republican challenger, Mitt Romney! (more…)