Ballots, bullets and Obama's role in renascent Muslim world

Due to his non(sensical) policies, President Obama is inadvertently supporting the supremacy of bullets over ballots in countries experiencing the Arab Spring.

Obama and Abdullah 311 (photo credit: REUTERS/Larry Downing)
Obama and Abdullah 311
(photo credit: REUTERS/Larry Downing)
A plethora of self-righteous rhetoric has been wasted on the Arab Spring with the attending dominance of ballots over bullets, although until now there have scarcely been signs of a spring per se. Initially, there were high hopes for democracy to triumph in places where non-authoritarian forms of government have hitherto never existed. 
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Instead however, in one case after another, hopes have been shattered with the primacy of bullets overwhelming any attempts for new democracies to emerge. And due to his nonsensical policies, President Barack Obama—apparent leader of the free world— is inadvertently supporting the supremacy of bullets.
Democracy is not only about elections and voting rights. In some countries, including Iraq and Lebanon, elections have been known to give rise to massacres. But even in cases where votes are not rigged and elections are conducted peacefully and, various political struggles still arise. Take Turkey for example, where elections invariably hail a string of arrests – particularly of journalists – and a denial of civil rights coupled with McCarthy-esque stifling of the opposition or imposed Islamization. Ironically, such acts often appeal to the most uneducated strata of these societies, which subsequently constitute the base of political parties in the main – as is the case of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's AKP party.
In 2008 in Lebanon, Hezbollah, the proxy of Iran and Syria, took over Beirut and its communication centers by force and then imposed its minority vote on the cabinet by threatening the use of more force. This was an attempt to scuttle any moves to arrest the Hezbollah- protected murderers of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, the leader that came closest to forming a democratically-elected majority government.
Paradoxically, more than any other country, the US - which ostensibly claims to democratize those countries by ballots - has contributed to spreading the use of bullets instead. Take Syria and Libya as examples: prior to President Obama’s non-policy of engagement in the Middle East, the tough and demanding policy of the Bush administration was paying off: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had been under siege; forced out of Lebanon, he was isolated both politically and economically, and under pressure to retreat from his axis with Iran.
But then Obama began courting Muslims with sycophantic gestures of friendship, including reinstating his ambassador in Damascus, prostrating before the Saudi king - the most reactionary monarch in the Middle East - and finally allowing the Turks to sacrifice Israel - their democratic ally in the region - for the prize of acquiring new authoritarian allies in Iran and Syria.
As a result, Arab and Muslim dictators got the impression that since America was now their friend they could do as they jolly well pleased. Nice one Obama.
As for Assad, well he began to massacre his own people at will, and when this began to become a sticky issue he sent Palestinians to challenge Israel’s borders as a deflection. Reinforced by US consent – implicit in its silence - King Abdullah and other leaders in Gulf States are dispatching their troops to quell protestors in Bahrain. In Lebanon, the Hezbollah effectively have a carte blanche to reverse anything achieved by the Bush administration.
Along with his treatment of Syria, Obama has demonstrated his blunder-policy in other areas too, including Afghanistan, the US economy, US healthcare system, and not least of all, his (mis)treatment of Israel. 
The Obama administration - which no longer dares to call a spade a spade and dissimulates the mounting Islamic violence as “a minority of extremists,” is getting further and further away from the previous administration's mission; the current administration has unwittingly shrunk the lexicon of viable terminology for terrorists – thereby changing the face of Bush's "war on terror."
This has allowed the Muslim world to once again slide into the familiar game of bullet-policy.
The writer is a professor of Islamic, Middle Eastern and Chinese history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem  and a member of the steering committee of the Ariel Center for Policy Research.