On his way from Jerusalem to Damascus, Saul of Tarsus (Christianity’s Saint Paul), the Jewish-Roman persecutor of Jesus’ early disciples, saw a “great light” which blinded him and threw him off his horse. A light which transfigured his life, and made him perhaps the most important personage in the Apostolic Age (First Century); a fundamental figure in Old Christianity.
And just as the resurrected Christ had appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus, could a resurrected Paul have appeared to Barack Obama, unfolding his eyes to some obvious reality that he’s been prevented from seeing while prisoner of the American Ruling Elite presiding over the White House?
To the eternal optimist some happenings this past week might indicate that the great hoped-for miracle is finally happening; that the humanoid mini-messiah, much of the world had hoped for when Obama was first elected to occupy the White House back in 2008, is finally here with a message that can unite people of goodwill throughout the world; a message without political shades, or subterfuge, or deceit; a message with clarity that we can all understand and rally around.
However, that was not the message scripted as the three-day White House conference on violent extremism came to an end on Thursday! Not by a long shot! Although the conference might have been purposeful and well-intentioned, it did not provide its convener, Mr. Obama, with the right forum; or an appropriate participative audience; or the genuinely required universal support needed to combat and eventually eradicate “violent extremism.”
For starters, the venue was wrong, as most major decisions which have brought about, or seeded, this violent extremism have originated, or co-originated, in Washington, DC, in the past seven decades, from geopolitical-territorial redrawing of the Middle East to the imposed regime changes and obscene wars of choice such Bush 43’s inane intromissions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Washington and London are definitely two most inappropriate capitals to reach solutions conducive to suffocate the violent extremism the imperialist dynamic US-UK duo has helped create in the Middle East after World War II.
As for the participative audience at Obama’s conference, one would have a difficult time credentialing representatives from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Uganda and several other nations, for adherence to human rights’ principles. It was a “Coalition of the willing” redux which took me back to 2003 and the invasion of Iraq . . . led by the non-musical Three Tenors: Bush 43, Blair and Aznar, as they put on a show in the Azores.
And in terms of support . . . well, a common and imminent danger can bring together strange bedfellows. (Although in 2003-Iraq, it was the deceitful creation of a common and imminent danger by Bush-Cheney and the neocon leadership.)
Once again, during and at the aftermath of this conference, Obama has demonstrated his ineptitude and incapability in global matters . . . and an inaccurate reading of what this violent terrorism is all about. The problem confronting the West, and more specifically the Anglo-American community (incidents in Belgium, Denmark and France having other causal issues), has deep roots . . . roots that extend way beyond poverty, education and religious-correctness. Unfortunately, perhaps influenced by his prior work in Chicago as a community activist, the president is incorrectly extending a domestic problem with racial and economic components to the international sphere.
Sorry, Mr. President. ISIS/ISIL, by whatever name, is a very real and, yes, very Islamic response—perhaps with an eighth-century dogma and purposeful shocking approach—to what they feel has been a grossly offensive meddling by the West in general, and the United States and United Kingdom in particular . . . in their religion, traditions and geopolitics. Declining the use of the word Islamic is a very latter-day American “correct” thing to do, but replacing it with “violent” only hides the true problem, maybe making it more politically palatable, more in line with our pharisaic culture that accentuates our good deeds and hides or erases our immoral acts.
As brutal, horrifying and sanguine behavior as ISIS is showing . . . is it really any worse or different from that created by sanctions which resulted in holocaustic infanticide by the West in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq? And, if the coalition denies ISIS/ISIL in battle the formation of its caliphate . . . are we so naïve as to think that American problems, in the Middle East or elsewhere, will be gone while still running a 7-seas empire?
No; Mr. Obama has not seen “the great light,” remaining as blind in Middle East affairs as he has been in his belligerent, anti-Russia approach in Eastern Europe. He, like Don Quixote, is still riding his Rocinante as he charges the windmills. Saint Paul did see the great light and is now known as Apostle of the Gentiles. As for Obama, given his present lackluster status, it’s unlikely he will be politically canonized, much less be known someday as Political Apostle of either Americans or Non-Americans.
© 2015 Ben Tanosborn
Ben Tanosborn, columnist, poet and writer, resides in Vancouver, Washington (USA), where he is principal of a business consulting firm. Contact him at email@example.com.