President Barack Obama has adhered to policy orthodoxy in the Middle East, "keeping Israel in the mode of militancy," author Gregory Harms says.
Harms, an independent scholar specializing in American foreign policy and the Middle East, is the author of three books, including most recently It's Not About Religion (Perceval Press, July, 2012).
"If you think like Dick Cheney, if you think like Henry Kissinger, then the [U.S.] policies make perfect sense," he told a meeting of the Society of Midland Authors Tuesday evening at the Cliff Dwellers club in Chicago.
But that "subsurface continuity," those policies that have been little changed at root since the Truman administration, don't make sense to most Americans, he said.
"Americans want Washington to conduct less interference in the Middle East," he said. "They want more UN involvement. They want a more democratized system. ... You need to look at what the population wants, not what a handful of planners want."
Washington's concern is resources - that as markets expand in India and China, as oil prices go up - it is critical from the "rational" perspective that the United States has authority in that region, he said.
For business, "the Middle East is the jewel," he said.
As for average citizens, "If you spend time in the region there is a far greater openness to discussing politics," he said. " ... In the United States because we are all a little confused, our political discussions turn immediately into arguments. You get two people who are yelling at each other who aren't fully informed."
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