“See that, Barack? That’s Islamic anti-Americanism melting away!”
“If Obama were elected president, 50 percent of the anti-Americanism in the world would disappear.”
I predicted this enthusiasm for Obama among Muslims around the world in March 2007: “Given Obama’s politics, it will not be hard to present him internationally as someone who understands Islam and Muslims, and thus will be able to smooth over the hostility between the Islamic world and the West — our first Muslim President.” It is clear from that article — read it for yourself — that by “our first Muslim President” I did not mean that Obama was secretly a Muslim, as a Washington Post “journalist” cravenly misrepresented me as saying, but that his background and politics would make him attractive to Muslims.
Will this enthusiasm translate to anything other than substantial American concessions — perhaps even including “hate speech” laws that outlaw critical discussion of Islamic jihad supremacism?
From “Fareed Zakaria GPS [Global Public Square]” at CNN, October 5 (thanks to Awake):
ZAKARIA: I’m here in Singapore with three very distinguished analysts of international affairs: Kishore Mahbubani, the dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy; Simon Tay, the chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs; and Raja Mohan, who is on loan from India, where he is a columnist for the “Indian Express,” but also here at the Rajaratnam School in Singapore.
Kishore, what I am struck by is coming to Singapore and listening to the usually very hard-nosed Singaporeans, who have tended to be very cool, realistic, and generally prefer Republicans, because they are hard-headed. And I notice that many of you are in something of a swoon over Obama.
You wrote in Newsweek that, if Obama were elected president, 50 percent of the anti-Americanism in the world would disappear.
Why is it that Singapore is Obama-crazy?
KISHORE MAHBUBANI, DEAN, LEE KUAN YEW SCHOOL OF PUBLIC POLICY, SINGAPORE: Well, let me emphasize, not all of Singapore is Obama- crazy. But there are many in Singapore who are actually troubled by the growing divide between America and the world.
And you must remember that Singapore lives in a region where, indeed, Singapore is surrounded by more Muslims than Israel is. Right?
And so, as a consequence of that, we have to put our finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the Islamic world. When it gets angry, it affects us. If it calms down, it’s a better environment for us.
And Obama clearly will work a magic in the Islamic world.
I mean, I was asked by President S.P.Y. to deliver the presidential lecture a few weeks ago.
ZAKARIA: The president of Indonesia.
MAHBUBANI: The president of Indonesia. And he was very clear. And he said, and several other people said that, if Obama – if the Indonesians could vote, 200 million Indonesians would vote for Obama, partly because he will be the first Bahasa-speaking American president.
And also, at the same time, I think he understands, you know. He can connect with the rest of the world in a way that I think McCain cannot. The psychological universe of McCain is a very confined one. The psychological universe of Obama understands the diversity of the world.
And what puzzled me is, there is – not just in Singapore, but when I met a billionaire from India – I can’t mention his name – he said to me, “Kishore, root for Obama. Root for Obama.”
So, there is a magical effect that Obama is having on the rest of the world. And that’s why, frankly, all the polls show – most of them, with some exceptions – the Muslim world for Obama.
ZAKARIA: But the lowest number is in India, Raja.
RAJA MOHAN, COLUMNIST, “THE INDIAN EXPRESS,” AND PROFESSOR, RAJARATNAM SCHOOL OF INTERNATIONAL STUDIES, SINGAPORE: I think in India, I think our heart is with Obama, but our head is with McCain. Our heart is with Obama, because I think Obama represents not only, you know, the American system’s capacity to change, it’s also we’re debating in India, about how do we empower our minorities, how to empower our lower castes.
If Obama can become the U.S. president, there’s also a debate in India that the Dalit leader, Mayawati, can become the next prime minister.
ZAKARIA: She has come from a very lower caste background, yes.
MOHAN: Yes. So, in a sense it’s very positive.
But at the same time, when we look at the issues on trade, I think any day I would take the Republicans. On outsourcing, I would take the Republicans. On immigration, I would take the Republicans.
ZAKARIA: Well, on immigration you’d take McCain, I think it would mean.
ZAKARIA: Because the Republican position, you wouldn’t accept it.
MOHAN: And the problem with the Democrats is that they come with their single-issue groups. Somebody does nonproliferation, somebody does human rights, somebody does workers’ rights. I mean, you have them going around pricking everyone in Asia, without a sense of a coherent vision.
I agree with Kishore. Obama honeymoon will last for six months. But after that, we’re going to have serious problems.