It’s been interesting to note these last couple of days, the heightened interest Jordanians seem to have in US primary elections, especially post Super Tuesday. It’s the kind of attention usually given to the general elections, but I suppose there are various reasons which may explain the sudden interest. First of all, both satellite television and faster Internet connections are more prevalent now than ever before, so technology does serve a purpose when it comes to the dissemination of information. To say nothing of the fact that many satellite new channels which has come about in recent years, are focusing a great deal on the elections. Second of all, four years ago was perceived to be a lock for Bush, whereas these elections see both parties competing more equally for the White house in the absence of an incumbent.
The third reason has been Obama.
Some still seem to have a tough time pronouncing Obama, and ironically some will mistakingly call him Osama. A black man with a funny sounding name, who is both young, charismatic and highly competitive. Not to mention his father’s name was Hussein and he spent a significant portion of his life in Indonesia, hence some have mistaken him for being Muslim, with this misconception only furthering his popularity here, which is also ironic. And I think people still have not fully reached the conclusion that he is, as all American politicians are, very pro-Israeli. But I suppose with time, everyone here will eventually reach that conclusion.
Nevertheless, above all, there is still the overwhelming and lingering consensus amongst the average Jordanian that – to quote the tag line from Alien vs. Predator – whoever wins, we lose.
But it’s still curious to see the spike in interest for US primaries/caucuses, even if people here don’t really understand how they work or what they’re all about. I’m waiting for the day I see an Obama bumper sticker on a taxi cab.
From left to right, Michelle Obama, then Illinois state senator Barack Obama, Columbia University Professor Edward Said and Mariam Said at a May 1998 Arab community event in Chicago at which Edward Said gave the keynote speech. (Image from archives of Ali Abunimah)
This heightened interest in the US primaries (or, realistically, the Democratic primaries) is something I see all over the world. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t into blogging in 2004, but I think it’s mostly because of this special race between Obama and Clinton.
On the one side, you have a woman (still something special in higher politics), an ex-president’s wife too – and on the other side, you have that young, black, charismatic guy Obama, someone, who, in a way, seems to represent a better politics: With hopes and dreams and a bit revolution. It’s a very special race indeed, it’s establishment against newcomer but they are also two people who would be the first presidents of their kind: A woman or an Afro-American?
That’s kinda Hollywood. I think, that’s what people like about this pre-elections: It’s about dreams and change and all the stuff you know from the novels and movies…
(Yeah, it’s PR – but still I like it. Obama is great.)
“And I think people still have not fully reached the conclusion that he is, as all American politicians are, very pro-Israeli. But I suppose with time, everyone here will eventually reach that conclusion.”
Exactly! If he was not pro-Israeli he wouldn’t still be in the running, noone would. That’s American politics and we have to pick and choose our battles.
listenning to hillary is just like watching a bad act, everything she says seems to be rehearsed..
Another thing, since when being a first lady is considered experience?Then she talks about being tough and capable to withstand the republican media mahcine, but like two time she cried..
And yesterday on sixty minutes she was asked if at one point she thought she might loose to obama, her answer was no..Then the reporter asked:even in when you are alone, sitting at night? She said no..I said and I think many said: Give a damn break!
BTW if she wins the democratic nomination, McCain will win hands down..There is no middle feelings when it comes to here; it is either you HATE her or LOVE her..
But as you said, it is fun to watch politics at works..
Second of all, four years ago was perceived to be a lock for Bush
Odd. I don’t remember it that way. Even on Arab blogs, I recall people talking about Kerry as if he was going to win.
craig: im referring to perception on the ground as opposed to blogs.
So is Obama the Alien and Hillary the Predator? 🙂
i dont know i find it hard to believe that people in jordan give a crap about the US primaries
craig: im referring to perception on the ground as opposed to blogs.
I said EVEN on Arab blogs, people seemed to think Kerry was going to win. “On the ground” here in the US, most people thought either candidate could win on election day even though the pundits were predicting Kerry’s victory. But that’s only because Kerry made some disastrous mistakes in the last couple of months. He was widely considered the front runner, before that. I’m really not seeing how you can claim that the 2004 elections was “perceived as being a lock for Bush”.
Anyway, to get back on topic… I think the “spike in interest” this year, is mainly because it’s a very important election. Whoever wins, the US is going to change direction pretty sharply. The neocons have been in charge for the entire time since 9/11. This will be the first time somebody with a different political philosophy gets to make some meaningful decisions.
People here in Egypt seem pretty disinterested in the primaries, but there is some knowledge of Obama because of the name. I have the impression that people here in Egypt think it’s a hot issue that his middle name is Hussein, but I don’t think many people in the US care except for crazy fringe groups.
Have you seen Rosner’s rankings of the candidates vis-a-vis Israel in Haaretz? Obama ranks the lowest, having made his first visit to Israel in only 2006. Then again, if visits to Israel are what matter to these rankings, Hillary’s at an advantage purely by having participated in politics on the national level for so long (it wold have been odd for a state senator from Illinois to visit Israel for political reasons, after all).
I really think the Clinton campaign is in trouble. The fact that she evokes such visceral hatred among some Americans (myself included) is a big problem. It’s not about her policy stances, but her personality. I see she replaced her campaign manager yesterday. That usually means big trouble.
Craig: “I said EVEN on Arab blogs, people seemed to think Kerry was going to win.”
ok, let me put this as simply as I can: i am saying that the perception in the arab world was that bush would win. im not talking about the perception in the US, Japan, UK, China, Indonesia, Chile or Australia, nor of the perception on Arab blogs.
AMP: i don’t know if its because obama doesn’t come off as judeo-christian enough or if he comes off as a reluctant member or rather a johnny-come-lately to the i-heart-israel club. but in setting up his run, which included that visit to israel, he seems to have taken the pledge.
yeah the campaign change was huge, but i guess it was more of a sacrifice fly. it’s easier to make those changes now when the perception that its “rejuvenating” can still be sold, as opposed to the “it’s hopeless” scenario that comes towards the end of a campaign.
ok, let me put this as simply as I can: i am saying that the perception in the arab world was that bush would win.
Thanks for putting it “simply” for me, Nas. But pardon me while I point out that a blogger such as yourself who has just dismissed his own opinions and the opinions of his fellow bloggers as not being representative of “perception on the ground” four years ago, probably shouldn’t be claiming to know what perception on the ground four years ago was. Did I make that simple enough for you? 🙂
i donâ€™t know if its because obama doesnâ€™t come off as judeo-christian enough or if he comes off as a reluctant member or rather a johnny-come-lately to the i-heart-israel club.
Now you know what is the “perception on the ground” here, as well!?
We don’t vote based on who is best for Israel, man. You may not believe that, but it’s true nonetheless. And if you are going to claim you are talking about “perceptions on the ground” in Israel, who gives a damn? 99% of Americans have never even heard of Haaretz, and couldn’t name the Israeli Prime Minister even if they were given a multiple choice. We’re voting on:
#1 the economy
#2 Iraq…. and further down the same list, Iran/Afghanistan/Terrorism
That is all.
As far as Obama’s Christian credentials, his are better than Hillary’s. The Clintons are only nominally Christian. Obama seems to be a believer.
craig: im not dismissing anyone’s opinion and certainly not my own since i wasnt a blogger 4 years ago, and even at that time i was of the opinion that bush would win. this was the feeling i felt was predominant in my own society (i.e. on the ground). furthermore, there was hardly a jordanian blogosphere (specifically) four years ago. and yes, in most cases, the opinions of many bloggers are not entirely representative of the majority line of thinking on the ground in the arab world. that’s not a dismissal, that’s just a fact based on socio-economic realities, and most arab bloggers already know that (as should their readers).
if you’re rejecting my premise that the arab street felt it was going to be a bush-win then there’s really nothing i can do to change that feeling. this is simply what i felt the perception was.
in lieu of access to flash cards, i dont think i can simplify it anymore for you.
let’s see if we can open a bit of dialogue here without you putting words in my mouth…
firt of all, im not saying, nor did i say, that this is ‘the perception on the ground”. i dont live in america. i live in jordan. i’m giving my opinion. my perception.
second of all, i didnt not say, nor am i saying that americans vote based on what is best for israel. in fact, i think you would agree that most americans are completely disconnected from caring for israeli realities. what i’m saying is that its difficult, if not impossible, to succeed in american politics, on this national level, without an endorsement from jewish and pro-zionist organizations. it’s like a democrat trying to win without teachers unions and a republican without oil and big business. these endorsements are curcial to survival before their names ever appear on a ballot and you, as a voter, head to polls to make your decision based on your aforementioned reasons, which i agree, are
What about faith: Remember that Morman who was in the race until few days ago.
What about Taxes: Remember those Tax cuts that some people are daying to make them permanent
What about Immigration:Remember that fence along the Mexican borders to prevent illegal immigrants from crossing over, morover, remember the amnesty bill.
What about health care: Remember 45 to 50 million Americans without health insurance.
What about Education:Remember after 4 years of colloege we end up owing over $ 100.000.00 in student loans.
I’m not even going to get into personat traits such as Looks–Hair style–Youth Looking–Family name and so on and so forth. I’ll just stick with the issues.
#1: in lieu of access to flash cards, i dont think i can simplify it anymore for you.
#2: letâ€™s see if we can open a bit of dialogue here without you putting words in my mouthâ€¦
Did I put those words (#1) in your mouth as well? You want to have a dialogue with me and request I stop “putting words in your mouth” when you repeatedly imply that I’m too stupid to understand what you say? 😛
Not sure how high your IQ is, NAS, but it’s unlikely to be as high as mine.
firt of all, im not saying, nor did i say, that this is â€˜the perception on the groundâ€. i dont live in america. i live in jordan. iâ€™m giving my opinion. my perception.
You don’t HAVE any “perception” of the US, NAS. Do you know what the word perception means? How seriously would you take me if I started talking about my “perceptions” of public opinion in Jordan?
second of all, i didnt not say, nor am i saying that americans vote based on what is best for israel. in fact, i think you would agree that most americans are completely disconnected from caring for israeli realities.
Yes I do agree with you about that.
what iâ€™m saying is that its difficult, if not impossible, to succeed in american politics, on this national level, without an endorsement from jewish and pro-zionist organizations.
That is a false statement. American Jews are supporters of the democratic party, and always have been. They are small in number, less that 3% of the population. AIPAC is not now nor has it ever been a powerful lobby in the United States. A few of the more powerful lobbying groups would be the NRA, NOW, the Sierra Club, the AFL-CIO and AARP. To an American, this fixation on “zionists” and AIPAC that many Arabs have seems almost comical. Especially when it comes to Republican candidates. Arabs should love the hell out of Republicans, since Arab oil money influences them so much. What’s up with that?
Hatem, you are talking about issues we are voting on?
I agree, there are a host of issues. But at present it looks like the US is heading for another recession. And the US is at war.
These are the two issues that Americans care about right now, more than any others (that’s fact) and they are both critical issues. Some voters will vote based on those secondary issues, but the majority will vote for the candidate who makes them feel the most safe and secure during these troubled times. It’s just human nature.
Bug fixes are more important than enhancements, to use my line of work as an example 🙂
Do you honestly believe that the US is at war?! With who/whom a phantom enemy called Alqaeda, or with 19 high Jackers that had a lucky shot and perished with the crash!The US could be out of war in 60 days if it really wants to.Let the Iraqis worry about their own country and there wont be any more war.
Do you honestly believe that the US is at war?!
With who/whom a phantom enemy called Alqaeda, or with 19 high Jackers that had a lucky shot and perished with the crash!
No, with the ideology that fuels Al Qaeda. The US has been suffering continuous terrorist attacks from Muslims since the 1970s. The 9/11 attacks were not an anomaly, and they didn’t happen in a vacuum.
The US could be out of war in 60 days if it really wants to.Let the Iraqis worry about their own country and there wont be any more war.
Iraq was never part of the war we are fighting. That was an optional invasion that the neocons took it themselves, for reason of their own. It’s been nothing but a very time consuming and very expensive distraction from what we should have been doing the last 5 years. And no, we couldn’t be “out of the war” in 60 days by simply withdrawing troops. That will be a “divine victory” for jihadis all over the world, and you know it as well as I do. We’re going to have to finish what we started, or we’ll have to deal with a much larger problem in 5 or 10 years. This isn’t one we get to walk away from. It’s not like Vietnam.
“when you repeatedly imply that Iâ€™m too stupid to understand what you say? :P”
hmm you make a valid point, so apologies.
“Not sure how high your IQ is, NAS, but itâ€™s unlikely to be as high as mine.”
i bow in the presence of such humbleness 😀
“You donâ€™t HAVE any â€œperceptionâ€ of the US, NAS. Do you know what the word perception means? How seriously would you take me if I started talking about my â€œperceptionsâ€ of public opinion in Jordan?”
as seriously as i took you in your first comment on this thread, where you said about arab perceptions, and i quote: “Odd. I donâ€™t remember it that way.”
“American Jews are supporters of the democratic party, and always have been. They are small in number, less that 3% of the population. AIPAC is not now nor has it ever been a powerful lobby in the United States.”
i disagree with that.
im not referring to some grand “zionist” conspiracy to take over the world, nor am i comparing them to other lobby groups in the country. i’m simply pointing out the strength of this particular lobby when it comes to its impact and influence on american, specifically democratic, politics as well as foreign policy in the middle east.
“Arabs should love the hell out of Republicans, since Arab oil money influences them so much. Whatâ€™s up with that?”
which arabs are we talking about, rich gulf arabs or the overwhelming poor majority of the arab world who live unaffected by oil or lack there of?
Also, Hatem, what to do in Iraq now is exactly what people are voting on. I want US troops out of Iraq, personally, and I have for the last 2 years. But a few months ago I changed my mind, because it seems Iraq may be able to stand up without having to go through a full blown civil war. I don’t have a problem with any of the candidates on their Iraq policy. I like McCain’s foreign policy, but I have some problems with him on his domestic policies. My biggest problem with Obama is he seems like a bit of an adventurer who wants to show everyone how different he is. Considering his lack of experience, that’s dangerous. Everyone compares him to JFK… but they seem to forget that it was JFK who sent American troops into Vietnam. I won’t even talk about Hillary Clinton.
hmm you make a valid point, so apologies.
Thanks, apology accepted 🙂
i bow in the presence of such humbleness 😀
NAS, intelligence is not something people are humble about. Not in my line of work, and not when I was in the Marines, either. I had the highest GT score in my regiment (~4000 Marines) and there wasn’t a day that went by that I wasn’t made aware of that.
as seriously as i took you in your first comment on this thread, where you said about arab perceptions, and i quote: â€œOdd. I donâ€™t remember it that way.â€
I guess there was a misunderstanding there, because I wasn’t talking about Arabs, I was talking about the general consensus of opinion *including* Arabs.
im not referring to some grand â€œzionistâ€ conspiracy to take over the world, nor am i comparing them to other lobby groups in the country. iâ€™m simply pointing out the strength of this particular lobby when it comes to its impact and influence on american, specifically democratic, politics as well as foreign policy in the middle east.
Do you think Israelis spend more money than Arabs do? Really?
The Jewish vote is important in New York. And New York is an important state for democrats. California is even more important for Democrats, though, and we don’t even have any Jewish population here to speak of.
Is it really that hard to accept that most Americans really do support israel? That’s my perception, as an American, and poll after poll shows it to be true. How could elected officials not support Israel, when the voters do?
which arabs are we talking about, rich gulf arabs or the overwhelming poor majority of the arab world who live unaffected by oil or lack there of?
Are you suggesting that rich Gulf Arabs (and the Arab league) do not have the best interests of Arabs in mind, when they influence American politics? Undoubtedly true, but that highlights a problem in Arab societies, doesn’t it? Maybe you should be complaining about that, instead of what the Israelis are doing. I’m certain that Arabs have more financial clout in DC than Israel does.
The American political system so corrupted and beyond and meaningful reform ,money is the name of the game and Zionist money and influence are seek by those two candidates,it’s time for American intifada .
And here an article by mother Jones Magazine ,to whom it may concern…..
For further information on Israeli lobby read John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt ,The Israel Lobby. It’s must read for people that want to understand.
Oh, it’s “blah blah blah” time 😀
Reasons are many and death is
Obama…Clinton….Shminton…They are all the same. Back track seven years ago when Gore and Bush were running for President. The Arabs then and even before bent backwards to support Bush. The same Bush that made us bent forward and gave it to us real good.
American policy in the region is a matter of geopolitics and balane of power strategies….It is a legacy that is almost written in stone. What would change American policy is not American elections, but honest Arab elections.
On a more important note, where did you have he sugar cane drink? It seemed delicious:-)
“I had the highest GT score in my regiment (~4000 Marines) and there wasnâ€™t a day that went by that I wasnâ€™t made aware of that.”
well good for you man. we’re all proud.
“I was talking about the general consensus of opinion *including* Arabs.”
ah ok. so you weren’t talking about arabs, just the general consensus opinions that include arabs. got it. cool.
“Do you think Israelis spend more money than Arabs do? Really?”
“The Jewish vote is important in New York. And New York is an important state for democrats. California is even more important for Democrats, though, and we donâ€™t even have any Jewish population here to speak of.”
the total population of jews in the US is more than that of israel i believe, but this isn’t about the jewish vote craig. there is a pre-requsite to love all that is israel in order to become president in the US. whether its for the jewish vote, or the hardline evangelical vote or for funding, mobilization, and what have you, come election time, it is an all-inclusive and systematic process.
“Are you suggesting that rich Gulf Arabs (and the Arab league) do not have the best interests of Arabs in mind, when they influence American politics?”
when do they “influence” american politics. they may be wealthy, but their political power is sustained by american support.
well good for you man. weâ€™re all proud.
I didn’t ask you to insult my intelligence, repeatedly, NAS. You did that all on your own.
the total population of jews in the US is more than that of israel i believe, but this isnâ€™t about the jewish vote craig. there is a pre-requsite to love all that is israel in order to become president in the US. whether its for the jewish vote, or the hardline evangelical vote or for funding, mobilization, and what have you, come election time, it is an all-inclusive and systematic process.
That’s because we (Americans) like and trust Israelis. We don’t like and trust Arabs. You want to know why, look at the history. The must consider yourself to be a smart guy, NAS, right? It doesn’t seem very bright to me to blame thirds parties like Evangelical Christians, AIPAC, zionists and so forth on something that can easily be explained just by polling the electorate. this is a representative democracy. Elected officials are SUPPOSED TO represent the will of their constituents. That is how it works. If you want Americans (including politicians) to start supporting Arabs you are going to have to find a way to make Arabs more popular here. Since that isn’t likely to happen any time soon, resign yourself to the fact that we aren’t going to be elected many pro-Arab politicians.
when do they â€œinfluenceâ€ american politics. they may be wealthy, but their political power is sustained by american support.
And how do they get that American support? I doubt I could find anyone in my neighborhood who thinks Saudi Arabia is either a “friend” or an “ally” of the United States, yet I keep hearing that assertion being made.
“I didnâ€™t ask you to insult my intelligence, repeatedly, NAS. You did that all on your own.”
i’m not insulting your intelligence, but you keep insisting on it at the moment, so what do you want, a cookie?
“You want to know why, look at the history. ”
that’s the funniest statement yet.
“It doesnâ€™t seem very bright to me to blame thirds parties like Evangelical Christians, AIPAC, zionists and so forth on something that can easily be explained just by polling the electorate”
who said i’m blaming any of them? if anything they are all excellent organizations when it comes to influence and mobilization, and i consider them role models for any organization that i could claim any sort of affinity to.
and yes, america is a representative democracy, granted. but the argument you’re presenting that the reason for israel’s backing is due to polling which suggests increased popular support for israel, is where you go awry. there are a hundred things that don’t poll well in america and remain “represented”, and vice versa. to reduce the most significant aspect of american foreign policy in the region to “what polls better” is both naive and ill-conceived to say the least.
and as for ignoring the role of these massively influential organizations well, you consider yourself a smart guy, craig, right? just, you know, look at the history.
“And how do they get that American support? ”
they get that support by promising to do america’s bidding, whatever the times may hope to define that word.
I support Obama becaus eof what he stands for and not because he is African American.
By the way, Obama Hussien is a born muslim and then converted to christianity later in his youth life.
@Respect All — Just to clarify, Obama being born to a Muslim does not automatically make him a Muslim in the USA. People perceive religion as a personal choice, and being born into a family of ANY religion does not translate into one’s being a member of that religion. I know it’s different in the Middle East.
People like Obama because they are reminded of another young, promising, handsome Senator who took the White House over 40 years ago. I am talking, of course, about John F. Kennedy. I think many people who really want America to change, both on the domestic and foreign front, feel that Obama’s (relative) youth and inexperience might actually be assets. They are sick of lobbyists and people who are so tied up in Washington that they have forgotten the people they represent.
You just keep saying the same things over and over again. How is that blame game working out for you? I’ve invested more time than I should have trying to explain to you how the US system really works. If you prefer to blame it all on the Jooos then go for it man. That’s worked so well in the past, right? Doesn’t matter any to me, man.
Strange, because I’m not blaming the “joos” for anything! If anything, I give credit to any organization such as AIPAC that has the reach it does. It’s something to admire rather than ridicule. I’m not a fan of the blame game myself, and if anything, i blame most of the problems in my region on our own people, system and leadership. israel and the US have always played their major role, but nevertheless, the biggest issues have always been our own and i’ve always believed that.
you on the other hand seem to have your problems with the way you view and feel about “a-rabs”, and i hope some day you can deal with and overcome those issues.
The only thing I can think of is that you must have recently watched the documentary “Obsession”.
You obviously have been brainwashed by your former employer, the military. You mention the terrorist attacks beginning in the 70’s. I suggest you look into the files the CIA released since the Freedom of Information Act was put into effect and look who funded the creation and trained these groups who planned and carried out these attacks; our own government. We created the Taliban during the cold war because we couldn’t stand the thought of the Soviets in Afghanistan. Then some members of the Taliban branched off to form their own group (i.e. Al Qaeda) with their charismatic, CIA trained leader, Osama Bin Laden, and made the US their main target of terror. Basically a problem we created ourselves and it happen to bite us back.
You deny the role Israel plays in American politics. Any idiot with a world map would realize Israel’s strategic location plays a large role in America’s continuous support and mass amounts of funding and weapons that goes into that area, regardless of the mass human rights violations being committed by the Israeli government and army. While some countries may have the mistaken belief that American is Pro-Zionist, the basic truth is that we obviously need a stronghold in that region that supports the imperial monster we are.
In stating these truths about my country, I in no way condone or support them.
I have always enjoyed reading your blogs since last year. I have appreciated reading the diverse feedbacks you receive from your readers and peers. However I am disappointed to discover that Craig is polluting your blogs with his prejudiced comments. While I understand that you allow freedom of expression through your “a piaster for your thoughts. . .:” I feel you are doing grave disservice to yourself and your readers/peers by posting his comments. It appears that he is using your blogs to promote his ireful attitudes towards Arab and Islam. The last few blogs which his comments are posted makes me wonder “is this Nas’ blog or Craig’s blog?” I am familiar with Craig’s childish and egotistical remarks in the Palestinian blogosphere (i.e. Kebabfest). His belligerent and derogatory comments are not worthy to be acknowledged on any Arabic blogs nor should they have any place there! I would like to kindly request that he not be not be on your blogs. I want to continue to enjoy reading your blogs without feeling harrassed and offended by his inappropriate comments. I am confident that you will understand my request. Your blogs/readers/peers do not deserve this bully!
Arabic Pride: Thank you for your concern. I don’t feel it’s right to ever restrict anyone from saying something just because I, or others or the vast majority of this blog’s readers, disagree with it. And I usually prefer to debate people who are on the opposite spectrum of me, and Craig has been commenting here for a long time.
Unfortunately, I was forced to ban him yesterday due to a comment in a recent post on Lebanon where he advocated death on my readers and that really transcends the permitted boundaries of dialog on this blog. that specific comment has been removed.
i didn’t know that you banned craig until i read the above comment, nor had i noticed that his comment was deleted. it occurred to me that i quoted the threat in one of my comments in that same lebanon thread.
it’s up to you (it’s your blog after all), but i would consent to you deleting or editing my comment (it’s #21) as well if you think it’s necessary to completely remove the death threat.
upyernoz: my decision was based on an unpublished comment that was filtered and i felt it had pushed the limits beyond what was acceptable on any blog. comment #15 was more of encouraging someone to kill themselves than an actual death threat. i dont want to split hairs or anything, but i figure deleting the worse one is better.
oops. i guess i misunderstood which one you were talking about. sorry.