President Obama on Al-Arabiya: Sullivan gets chills

William Scott Scherk's picture
Submitted by William Scott Scherk on Tue, 2009-01-27 18:22

Sullivan being Andrew Sullivan, author of the popular Atlantic blog "The Daily Dish," conservative, Catholic. Chills referring to his stirrings of hope . . .

Here he comments on Obama's interview with Al-Arabiya's News Channel (for transcript, see CBSnews) -- one of the Muslim world's main non-state broadcasters.

Since even the hardest core neocons agree that wooing the Muslim center is critical to winning the long war against Jihadism, Obama's outreach is unremarkable and should be utterly uncontroversial. Bush tried for a while to do the same. But Karen Hughes is not exactly Barack Obama. And the simple gesture of choosing an Arab media outlet for his first televised interview as president is extremely powerful. It has the elegance of a minimalist move with maximalist aims. It is about the same thing as inviting Rick Warren or supping with George Will: it's about R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

This respect came with the following astonishing words:

    Now, my job is to communicate the fact that the
    United States has a stake in the well-being of the
    Muslim world, that the language we use has to be a
    language of respect. I have Muslim members of my
    family. I have lived in Muslim countries ... the
    largest one, Indonesia. And so what I want to
    communicate is the fact that in all my travels
    throughout the Muslim world, what I've come to
    understand is that regardless of your faith – and
    America is a country of Muslims, Jews, Christians,
    non-believers – regardless of your faith, people
    all have certain common hopes and common dreams.

    And my job is to communicate to the American people
    that the Muslim world is filled with extraordinary
    people who simply want to live their lives and see
    their children live better lives. My job to the
    Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans
    are not your enemy.

What Obama is doing is appealing over the heads of Muslim leaders directly to Muslim populations. I cannot think of any other president with the same kind of personal credibility in such a critical time. And his appeal is to relieve the state of humankind:

    [T]he bottom line in all these talks and all these
    conversations is, is a child in the Palestinian
    Territories going to be better off? Do they have a
    future for themselves? And is the child in Israel
    going to feel confident about his or her safety and
    security? And if we can keep our focus on making
    their lives better and look forward, and not simply
    think about all the conflicts and tragedies of the
    past, then I think that we have an opportunity to
    make real progress.

Onto the choppy waters of religious strife, the old oil of material improvement. It's a way in; a way to change the subject; a subtle appeal to Muslim and Arab peoples on common ground.

Here's a link to world news stories on the interview. It will no doubt appear on Youtube soon. See the Youtube version below.

I am curious how SOLOists judge this take of Sullivan's, and more curious how they compare and contrast Obama's interview with Peikoff's interview.

One man who has an enormous influence, the use of America's might and power, a huge audience, the media in his face day and night, and a country in love with him and his family. A man who underlines the children -- symbols of innocence.

The other man with a smaller influence, pursuing a consistent philosophical hard line at odds with the even the 'neo-cons' alluded to by Sullivan. A man who underlines that America has no choice but to ignore the suffering of children in its necessary military attack upon the Muslim world's menacing states and stateless terrorists.

Who will prevail? What hope do Objectivist and objectivish people have to influence the course of events? What does it mean that America's president speaks directly to Muslims the way he has spoken directly to America? Will Obama be a problem for the autocrats and terrorists -- or is this, in the words of the Vicar, 'appeasement'?

Is there a use for the soft power of diplomacy and the moral power of American ideals, or is the only solution to bomb the fuck out of the snakehead, Iran?

( categories: )

I'm really sick of hearing

mazpantz's picture

I'm really sick of hearing our president talk about "the muslim world", I really couldn't give two ***** about the muslim world.


Brant Gaede's picture

The United States should demand respect from the Muslim world and do what needs to be done to get it. No nicey, nicey. No appeasements.


Comrade Lindsay and Comrade Peikoff -- one and the same?

William Scott Scherk's picture

"you Obama groupies" . . . "The first thing your boy does [ . . . ] is go on Arab TV" . . . "you Obama groupies" . . . "you were one and the same" . . . "your boy Carter's pacifism" . . . "mindless reverence for Obama" . . . "his vile socialism/fascism" . . . "capitulation to Islamofascism which you and Scherk evince" . . . "why don't you and Comrade Scherk answer my points about your false allegations against "Linzoff"?" . . . "please show me where either component of "Linzoff" has advocated "bombing the fuck out of Iran."" . . . "
Please note your boy Ahmadinejad's response

Peikoff on O'Reilly spoke on several levels in answer to O'Reilly's suggestion that a massive attack on Iran would lead to an uprising in the so-called Muslim World. I think both O'Reilly and Peikoff are wrong in the details. Wrong that an attack on Iran would lead to world war, wrong that the only moral and correct thing to do is attack Iran with US forces at maximum firepower, unswayed by convention, notional strategy, or previewing consequences on support for America's other goals in the region.

Shia Iran is a minority in the Muslim world, and is feared and loathed by all but Hisbullah, Hamas, Syria and non-state actors in Afghanistan and Pakistan -- notably Al Qaeda -- and the Shia extremists in Iraq (now on the defensive after the shock of their losses in provincial elections this week).

Wrong are O'Reilly and Peikoff to call unnamed countries America's 'so-called friends' and to suggest that they stole oil. Jordan? Egypt? Emirates? Turkey? Who knows what those two were referring to . . .

As for the idea that "bombing the fuck out of Iran" is General Comrade Peikoff's preferred option for dealing the snakehead -- he did not say 'let's bomb the fuck out of Iran.' He implied that the only way, the sole alternative, the 2+2=4 obvious correct Peikovian way to avert the destruction of America is to use the full military force of America against Iran. Notjust against military targets, or political targets -- or even the snake-headiest of the snakehead, Qom and the lairs of the clerical dictators.

Perhaps Comrade Lindsay can flesh out how the use of full military force against Iran (including nuclear weapons if 'the generals' deem them necessary) is somehow, in some essential way, different from bombing the fuck out of Iran.

In any case, to my eyes, Obama's going over the head of the state actors to Al-Arabiya has already had one of its intended effects. Far from appeasing the autocrats and religious nutcases in Iran (Syria/Gaza/Lebanon) . . . the warning to Iran and its shadowy networks of sponsored thugs that they will get nothing if they do not 'unclench the fist' is causing problems in the Iranian leadership.

Of course, I am not sure if Lindsay understands that the nutcase President of Iran is not the leader of that country, nor its head of state, nor its policy maker.

I don't know if Lindsay reads news from the Middle East in any great depth.

What would happen if the murky Linzoffian Doctrine of Total War against Iran took place? I don't know. O'Reilly says laying waste to Iran would be a cakewalk, since it is not a sophisticated country, it would take maybe a day. Perhaps Lindsay would put forward a more detailed plan for removing the snakehead. Maybe he would explain how the roots of Islamic terrorism can be found only in a single place in a single time, and how to apply the appropriate weedkiller competently.

Or maybe not. Slogans are more satisfying sometimes. Saves thought.

Here's what I asked of SOLOists interested enough to read the article above:

Will Obama be a problem for the autocrats and terrorists -- or is this, in the words of the Vicar, 'appeasement'?

Is there a use for the soft power of diplomacy and the moral power of American ideals, or is the only solution to bomb the fuck out of the snakehead, Iran?

I would understand the objection that soft power versus total fuck-bombing sets up a false alternative. In which case I would be interested in reading of another set of alternatives, realistic alternatives. Rather than another tired, peevish rehash of 'your pinups' and other mucky fallacies from someone who knows better.



Lindsay Perigo's picture

I didn't say you and Scherk were comrades. I said you were one and the same! Eye

I see him huffing and puffing away again in a post I shan't bother replying to - you might ask him what his problem is with package-dealing while he talks about Linzoffians (which frankly I rather enjoy, though I doubt Leonard would be amused).

Fact is, you Obama groupies all blur into one for me pretty early on in discussion - I do have genuine difficulty remembering which of you said what. I am very old, as you know.

Reagan negotiated from strength, after he rearmed, after your boy Carter's pacifism. The first thing he did in office was tell the Soviet Ambassador he couldn't use the main lift in the White House but only the servants' lift. The first thing your boy does, after campaigning on a platform of compromising the fragile victory in Iraq, is go on Arab TV. If you Obama groupies were advising Reagan, you'd have told him not to say, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall," because it might cause offence.

Obama is a fascist in the way Rand wrote of re JFK's "Fascist New Frontier." And this is not mere same-old same-old: just check the debt graph posted by Marcus.

Piss-fits are the prerogative of the old and infirm. Toughen up.

I shall have nothing further to say about Sullivan. Not worth my time.

As for Henry being pregnant, tell him from me, "Bah humbug! Very careless. And don't forget to drown it."

Lumping and splitting, the Linzoffian way . . .

William Scott Scherk's picture

SOLO Principal and founder Lindsay Perigo has a problem.

He thinks Matty and me both admire and follow Andrew Sulivan. In my case, Lindsay may think this because I posted Sullivan's comments on the Al-Arabiya interview -- and then asked some questions.

I know which intellectual equal you both get it from.

This is silly; what is more silly is the Linzoffian manner of reading right past words and opinions squarely in front of him. What is not silly, but somewhat sad, is the Linzoffian splitting and lumping.

Into one lump goes Scherk and Orchard; as if they were not only both taking their inspiration from Sullivan (whom I read about once a month**), but also thinking the same thoughts and supporting the same issues.

Lumping individual players into two teams and only two teams -- Good Guys (Linzoffian warmongers) and Bad Guys (Obamabuttlicking appeasers) -- is sad and silly.

It's as if a whole league full of players (Obomba Red Bombers, Midland Cowboys, Orange County Warmongers, Wellington Winebars, Auckland Loonberries, Los Angeles Airheads, Milwaukee Cheeseheads, Toronto Socialist Hordes, Paris Soutien-Gorges, etcetera . . . ) were seen as all playing for only one or the other team in a two-team league that only plays in Linzoffia.

Thus, Linzoffians may actually believe that calling Hamas a goon-squad of Islamic thugs which oppresses its subjects by violence and intimidation . . . means that the person who calls Hamas such . . . is, an appeaser. Or a fan. Or some other such demented misappellation.

Only on an alternative plane of reality, the Bizarro World of Linzoffia, can such contradictory thoughts be held.

To temper the sad and silly, the chief Linzoffian lemming-driver now assigns a stupendously inane comment to all the Buttlickers: they would have voted for Idi Amin.

The mind boggles.



** I don't like Sullivan's opinions, generally, but read him as I do many varieties of opinion -- to become acquainted with what people think and say.

In this case, I posted excerpts from Sullivan because his piece appeared near the top of a Google News search on Al-Arabiya / Obama interview, and because, in context -- he seemed to have an idea that Obama's move might be grander than the same thing done by Bush.

I suspect that Linzoffian lemmings don't read news and opinion off the mainline. The lack of curiosity and interest in events and players should not astonish me, but it does.

Well that trailed off quickly...

Matty Orchard's picture

For the umpteenth time me and WSS are not comrades. We have barely spoken to each other both in and outside of SOLO. What allegations have I made against you sorry?

Andrew Sullivan is not my intellectual equal. He's smarter than me. And he's an eccentric who goes way over board a lot of the time. Especially on his blog due to its stream of consciousness style.

What allegations of Sullivan's specifically are baseless?

I don't think Obamas a fascist and his socialism is nothing worse than what we've seen in the past century of American presidents. The islamo-fascism comment is just silly. What's he appeasing anyway? Words?

I'm not saying Iran and others hostility should be taken lightly. I agree that they're a major threat but you're not for bombing the fuck out of them, not for talking to them, what do you suggest we do if we want to avoid a disaster?

Reagan talked. Sometimes the talks didn't go well but he TRIED. What's wrong with trying to lessen our problems with these countries through diplomacy?
What's wrong with trying to win the hearts and minds of these countries citizens in the hope of undermining their most extreme Anti-American propagandists?

And what's with these personal jabs about not knowing who Idi Amin is and creaming my pants over stimulus (heh.) anyway? I'm disagreeing with you about politics, I thought this was your sport. Why all the umbrage? I don't remember any of these piss-fits when I disagreed with you in person over Iraq.

P.S. Henry sends his best wishes and probably doesn't mind me telling you that he's about to be a father!

Oh Christ!

Lindsay Perigo's picture


Well, for one thing he was stupid enough to get AIDS when any fuckwit knows how to avoid it. So he's sub-fuckwit, actually.

But more importantly, he brings the virus of appeasement to the debate, with a litany of utterly unsubstantiated allegations against Bush/Cheney and the self-same mindless reverence for Obama and his vile socialism/fascism and capitulation to Islamofascism which you and Scherk evince. But at least now I know which intellectual equal you both get it from.

Now, why don't you and Comrade Scherk answer my points about your false allegations against "Linzoff"? And about Obama and Ahmadinejad, and Obama's bailout package? Billions of dollars of stolen money for Politically Correct bullshit. Creaming your pants over it, you guys?

It's only because he's black, isn't it? You would have voted for Idi Amin (if you knew who he was), wouldn't you?! Except he would have been too right-wing for you. Jesus!


Matty Orchard's picture

"Andrew Sullivan is a fuckwit"


Not even a nice try, Mr. Scherk ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

As longwinded as it is empty as usual.

One more time with this question:

And please show me where either component of "Linzoff" has advocated "bombing the fuck out of Iran."

Iran is the snakehead, to be sure, but removing your American-hating pinups from power doesn't necessarily require "bombing the fuck" out of the whole country, including nuking, as you've now newly claimed.

Please note your boy Ahmadinejad's response to the fawning of your other boy Obama.

Andrew Sullivan is a fuckwit, but at least I now understand the common source of your and Matty's ghastly crapolae.

As for the respective merits of Peikoff's and Obama's approach, I figure I've already made clear my view on that.

And as for your boy and Mussolini, the similarities grow by the day. He got his fascist package passed today, but already all Republicans and 11 Dems voted against it!! He's already on the slippery slope to the fate of Jimmy Carter, and perhaps Mussolini. How sad.

You should stop straining to be clever, Scherk, and put forward some arguments backed by evidence. Your laziness is disillusioning me. I might have to conclude you're a flibbertigibbet.

Fliberty and the gibbet

William Scott Scherk's picture

Linzoffian dogma declares that President Obama's interview with Al-Arabiya is surrender.

LP: Obama doesn't understand or agree with "American ideals." That's precisely why you worship him, no?!

Well, how does one respond to such a slovenly question, predicated as it is on a cartoon?

Firstly, even if I agree that Obama doesn't understand or agree with American ideals -- which you haven't demonstrated, Lindsay -- it doesn't follow that this makes me an Obama worshipper. Such glib assertions reflect neither reason nor passion. Yes, I understand that in your universe there are only two positions: those which you and the Linzoffians hold, and those which are held by others. Because the cartoon world contains only villains and heros, there can be no middle ground, no agnostics, no balance, no accuracy, just inexpressibly evul awfulness and on the other hand, Good triumphant.

Thus Good is found in the Vicarage, and Bad is found outside. Thus Linzoffians are Good and all the others are bad. Thus Obama is analoque to Mussolini -- and those who counter such dullardly splitting and lumping are devil-worshippers. As if only Angelic Linzoffians and Demonic Obamaniacs exist. Piffle. Slop.

So, do I 'worship' Obama, Lindsay? Do I admire Hamas and Iran? Do I really?

It's as if you and the other Linzoffians have a Magic Pill for the ills of the world. It follows that in the cartoon all other options besides the Magic Pill are poison.

My mind boggles at this ability to cleave the world and its people into two and only two lumps.

He's a Gramscian, Chomskyan PC socialist!

Oh, really?

Good grief -- is this really the way your mind works, Lindsay? Do you honestly think that such a statement makes any sense, or advances any argument, or provides support for your strategy of avoiding thought on the questions put forward?

I will reiterate, and try to capture the cartoonish, Lucha Libre, madcap view of the world you profess --

Your leader, Peikoff, believes that Iran is the snakehead, and that pounding Iran with the full force of military power -- including nuclear bombs -- will 'terrify the terrorists.' In other words, all the weeds will die and only posies and sunflowers and sweet, peaceful roses will push up into the light.

The leader of America, the Marxist/Fascist leftist goon, speaks over the heads of the totalitarian Saudi government, and over the head of the dictator Assad, and over the head of the dictator Mubarak, and over the head of the assorted emirs and sultans and presidents of other Arab states, and over the head of the crazed theocratic thugs who control Gaza -- he speaks directly to the viewers, appealing directly to the self-interest of Al-Arabiya's people.

This appeal to people, to individuals and their values, this appeal to that which takes precedence over war and historical grievances, this appeal to the mother and father and person in the street, who each struggle individually to get out from under the cruel and demented leadership that enslaves them -- this appeal is nothing but 'appeasement.'

Now, Andrew Sullivan considers this direct approach to individual values to be cunning. You and the Linzoffians appear to consider this evul and stupid.

I would be interested to see you make a comparison between the approach of Peikoff and the approach of the Obama administration. I would like to see you contrast the two, to acknowledge that one has the power of America and the other the power of, well, ARI and its monks.

I don't believe you give up so easily on your Credo. I don't believe you give up on reason so easily, so easily down its tools and take up the cudgel of personal recriminations and bitterness at presumed enemies. I believe you have revised your opinion that Obama be lynched, and I believe you will actually put forward an opinion on Obama's appearance on Arab television.

As for the mock-astonishment at your leader's 'hit with the full, effective force of the United States' fatwa . . . I expect you will understand that the full, effective force of the United States is not found only in arms.

Unless you truly believe that the only effective force is military, that the only power is 'hard' -- bombs and military force -- you can avoid the gibbet of extremism and you can avoid mistaking liberty with flibberty.

In a word, when you are lazy, when you lump everyone into the class and under the rubric of buttlicking Obama-worshipping ayerhead poomobonkering snotterwallers, you appear to be the Flibbertigibbet of Objectivism.

And a Flibbertigibbet you are not, not even in this Shakespearean meaning of the term.


[Edited for spelling, and to replace "red red roses" with "sweet, peaceful roses."

The Shakespearean link leads to an insult generator. Let us hope it is used to replace the threadbare 'poomobonker' and associated empty signifiers, which have lost their rhetorical oomph.]

Mr. Scherk ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Is there a use for the soft power of diplomacy and the moral power of American ideals, or is the only solution to bomb the fuck out of the snakehead, Iran?

But Obama doesn't understand or agree with "American ideals." That's precisely why you worship him, no?! He's a Gramscian, Chomskyan PC socialist! True, he nodded in the direction of America's ideals, as I generously allowed in my press release, in parts of his Inaugural, but undercut them in others, as he did constantly through the campaign.

The "soft power of diplomacy" I'm afraid is a euphemism for the softness of appeasement, moral equivalence and surrender.

And please show me where either component of "Linzoff" has advocated "bombing the fuck out of Iran."

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