To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the “Arab Spring”
By Jamie Glazov
Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Ruthie Blum, a twice weekly columnist for Israel Hayom (the English website of Sheldon Adelson’s daily Hebrew paper). For two decades she was a senior editor and regular columnist at the Jerusalem Post. She moved to Israel from the United States in 1977 and resides in Jerusalem. She describes herself as a “right-wing bohemian,” a term she invented to distinguish her politics from those of neoconservatives, paleo-conservatives, and libertarians — because she is a bit of all three. She has four children (three boys and a girl), all of whom served in the IDF. She is the author of the new book, To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the “Arab Spring.”
FP: Ruthie Blum, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Let’s begin with what inspired you to write this book.
Blum: Thanks Jamie.
I began researching the book exactly two years ago, shortly after Jimmy Carter published his appalling book, “Peace Not Apartheid.” I was commissioned to write it by David Azrieli, a renowned Canadian-Israeli architect and philanthropist, who had lost his family in the Holocaust, and who had spent his teenage years escaping the Nazis by the skin of his teeth.
Originally, the book was supposed to be a kind of indictment of the Carter presidency. The idea behind it was to show Carter’s responsibility for the fall of the Shah of Iran, the rise of the Ayatollah Khomeini, the mishandling of the American embassy takeover, and hence the current situation in which the mullocracy in Iran is soon to be in possession of nuclear weapons.
Four months into my research, the so-called “Arab Spring” erupted, when a Tunisian street vendor set himself on fire. Suddenly, everything I had been reading and discussing with my interviewees for the book came to life again — only this time it was President Obama at the helm.
FP: Why were you pessimistic about the “Arab Spring” from the very beginning?
Blum: Partly because I actually live in the Middle East, and don’t tend to translate the statements and actions of Arabs into some watered-down version of America-speak. When Tunisians, Egyptians, Lybians and Syrians take to the streets and scream for blood, it doesn’t ring like the desire for freedom and democracy. Rather, it is an expression of rage at being “the abused,” as opposed to “the abuser.” It is not an expression of a desire to end a reign of terror; it is an expression of the desire to be the ones at the helm of that terror.
FP: Why is Jimmy Carter still relevant today?
Blum: As an ex-president, Carter is no more relevant than any elder statesman who once held a high office. But his legacy in the Democratic Party is going strong. It is a form of knee-jerk radicalism veiled in phony “human rights” terminology.
FP: You hold Obama responsible for the rise of radical Islam that is becoming more and more evident in the Middle East. Tell us why.
Blum: When Obama took office, he made it clear that his first order of business would be to reach out to the Muslim world, to prove that America was no longer going to be the “sheriff in town.” So he went to Cairo, and made a very groveling speech to an audience filled with members of the Muslim Brotherhood (which is why Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak decided not to attend at the last minute).
Another thing Obama did was to summon the head of NASA and instruct him that his main mission would be to make Muslims feel good about their contributions to science and math. He also abolished the word “terrorism.” But his most blatant act of encouraging radical Islamists was his shameless abandonment of the Iranian counter-revolutionaries, who took to the streets, after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stole the June 2009 election.
Prior to, during, and in the aftermath of that election, the Obama administration kept asserting that it would negotiate with any leader to emerge. Well, that’s about the only issue on which that administration has been true to its word. Since then, it has been conducting pointless, fruitless meetings with Iranian regime representatives, in order to persuade them not to enrich uranium for military purposes.
FP: How are Obama and Carter the same? Who is worse in your view?
Blum: What they mainly have in common is a dim view of American power, greatness, and exceptionalism. They also share an affinity for — even a romanticizing of — the Third World, and believe that if it weren’t for countries like the United States and Israel, everybody in the world would be happily prospering and free of racism. They also both believe that the way to an enemy’s heart is through appeasement.
I think that Obama is worse, because one could argue that during the Carter presidency, there had not yet been a precedent of radical Islamic regimes on which to base American policy. Obama doesn’t have that excuse. And so willfully blind (to use Andy McCarthy’s expression) has he been in relation to America’s enemies that it causes me to question whether he isn’t, in fact, actually on their side.
FP: So tell us more specifically about what your book is about. What is the main argument?
Blum: The main argument of the book is that American appeasement of its enemies has disastrous consequences. The worse possible attitude that a US president can have is to “understand” why others hate his country. This conveys the message that they are right to harbor such feelings. It also perpetuates a false and dangerous notion that the cultures, ideologies, and religions of others would miraculously change if only countries like the United States and Israel would alter their own behavior. This is nonsense that has been proven, time and again, to have no basis whatsoever in reality. Enemies do not need to be courted and cajoled; they need to be defeated.
FP: What do you hope your book will help achieve?
Blum: I hope it will shed light on the situation in the Middle East today, and why it is crucial for there to be an American administration that not only believes in the superiority of Western values — which include political, social, religious, sexual, economic, and ideological freedom — but believes in the need to fight for them, not view them as some kind of multicultural choice, equal to all others.
FP: What if Obama gets in for a second term?
Blum: Though a distinct possibility, it would be a disaster. Not only will he finish off the American economy through his socialist policies, but he will destroy any modicum of morale the country has left. Just as he won’t let small business owners take credit for their hard work and successes, he won’t allow America to take credit for being a great and superior nation. Where Israel is concerned, it will also be a tragedy if he is reelected. He has been as hostile to Israel during his presidency as he has been apologetic towards Israel’s enemies.
FP: Ruthie Blum, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.