Check out the upcoming Campbell Conversation interview with Middle East and Islamic Affairs analyst Roger Hardy. I was struck by the central importance Hardy placed on progress in the Israel-Palestine conflict for President Obama's standing and success in the Muslim world, even in nations like Indonesia. I think we have tended to lose sight of this factor in the focus on Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention Pakistan and Iran. Hardy also makes some provocative observations about the depth of Obama's challenges in these areas, and the sources of the administration's own ambivalence.
My conversation with Hardy also brought me back to one of the most vivid "Ah-ha" moments from my first summer working in London. The difference between the way Europe views the Israel-Palestine conflict and the way it's viewed in the U.S. is so stark as to be disorienting to an American living abroad for the first time, and can't be fully appreciated until you actually live in a different country. It quickly becomes clear just how much of an outlier we are among our Western peer nations on this issue. I also happened to be in London this past spring when the Israeli raid on the Gaza flotilla occurred, and the experience repeated itself. The reported facts were largely the same on both sides of the Atlantic, but the framing and the feeling of the media treatment were completely different. This is not to suggest that we have it wrong, but it's an instance of "American exceptionalism" we may be less aware of than, say, our comparatively stronger endorsement of market capitalism.
Note: This blog draws in part on my experiences and observations interviewing political figures, writers, and analysts for "The Campbell Conversations" on WRVO. To hear past interviews I refer to in these posts, please go to the show's website. The views expressed here are solely my own, and do not represent Syracuse University, the Campbell Institute, or the WRVO Stations.
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