|Can you smell my awesomeness from Syria?|
This morning I was reading an Allahpundit post on Hot Air about the left's belief that his election to the presidency would be the death blow to radical jihadism.
The pertinent piece is where Ahhahpundit quotes Andrew Sullivan;
"Consider this hypothetical. It’s November 2008. A young Pakistani Muslim is watching television and sees that this man—Barack Hussein Obama—is the new face of America. In one simple image, America’s soft power has been ratcheted up not a notch, but a logarithm. A brown-skinned man whose father was an African, who grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii, who attended a majority-Muslim school as a boy, is now the alleged enemy. If you wanted the crudest but most effective weapon against the demonization of America that fuels Islamist ideology, Obama’s face gets close. It proves them wrong about what America is in ways no words can."
Therein lies the liberal mindset, which has been stated before - America is the root of the problems in the world. Or, at the very least, America is at the root of all hatred of America. It's our own fault, the reasoning goes.
But it's not. As Allahpundit points out, Obama's face, his apology tour, and his supposed soft power have done nothing to quell anti-American sentiment hatred in the jihadist world.
To be fair, they have not fuelled it either. His weakness has enabled a jihadist resurgence, but the fuel, the anger towards America and the West has virtually nothing to do with what America says or does in the world. Only a self-centered viewpoint would assume that everything stems from America. People can hate you without reason. People can view you as the great Satan not because of what you've done or not done, but just because.
A kinder, gentler great Satan is still a great Satan. Nothing America can do, at least in the short and medium terms, can change that mindset in those who already have it. If you want to change the perception, that requires a complete paradigm shift on a scale (not necessarily identical method-wise) of the Marshall Plan. You have to make it so that jihadists find it difficult to recruit people because their belief system is diametrically counter to that of potential recruits.
You don't do that by being blaming yourself. You do that by engaging near allies to become allies, and neutral relationships to become friendlier by creating a state of inter-dependence through trade and exchange. You do that by making it mutually beneficial to be friends with the United States.
To simply assume that everything is your fault, is to place too much importance on your own actions and culture and to allow for no input into the formula by any others. What we do matters, and what anyone else does or feels is in reaction to us. Period. That's cultural-centric thinking. Yes, the United States plays a big role in world affairs, but given its relative power, it has remained positively constrained when compared to say the Soviet Union or now Russia or ISIS.
The biggest danger in this cultural-centric thinking is not about getting it wrong (Obama's face has not proved Islamist ideology wrong, as Sullivan had predicted). The biggest danger comes from taking your eyes of the real situations because you believe you are correct in your thinking. That's what this cultural-centrism has wrought for America.