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Lexington: Barack Obama’s Iraq syndrome

THE Arab street hates Barack Obama. Many angry Egyptians accuse him of secretly supporting the Islamists who ran the country until July. Many others (equally angry) accuse him of backing the generals who overthrew the Islamists. Both charges cannot be right. Indeed, neither is. Yet loathing of Mr Obama runs wide and deep in the Muslim world, though he came to office vowing to mend relations with it, after the hubris and blunders of his predecessor.When you are the commander-in-chief of a superpower, people often assume you are more powerful than you really are. To many Islamists the Egyptian army’s ousting of their leader, ex-President Muhammad Morsi, simply has to be America’s handiwork. Islamist posters in Cairo depict Mr Obama as a wicked pharaoh, leading Egypt’s military strongman, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, by a dog-leash. To such folk, evidence of American perfidy is all around: from comments by John Kerry, the secretary of state, that the army was merely “restoring democracy”, to Mr Obama’s reluctance to suspend military aid.In contrast, to many Egyptians who back the generals, events have unmasked Mr Obama’s warm words about Arab democracy as a plot to…

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