Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Roots of Obama's Rage

by Dinesh D'Souza
Regnery Pub, 2010, 247 pages

The author has an intriguing hypothesis - he argues that we can't understand President Obama, and what drives him, unless we first understand what drove his father.

Now it might seem implausible that Obama would be driven by the same motivations as his father. After all, he hardly knew his father, meeting him in person just once, as a ten-year-old boy. But despite the minimal contact, the President's autobiography, and its telling title - Dreams From My Father - make it clear that his father had an enormous influence on him.

So who was Obama's father? He was a Kenyan, but more importantly, he was an anti-colonialist. And an anti-colonialist is someone who blames the woes of the world, or in this case the woes of Kenya, on the 19th and 20th century expansionist policies of the European powers.

When the First World colonized the Third, they brought with them advancements in medicine and agriculture, they created infrastructure and markets, and along with this came missionaries with the Gospel. So why would anyone object to colonization if it brought all these benefits? Well the benefits didn't come without a cost. Europe didn't come in peace to these lands; they took them by force. So colonization brought with it a mixed bag of blessings and conflict, and anti-colonials focused only on the latter.

An anti-colonial's objective then, is to free his country from "paternalistic" First World control. In its more extreme form, anti-colonialism wants also to remove any trace of, and connection to the "Mother" country. They hate their Mother, and want nothing to do with her.

To make a long review short, Dinesh D'Souza lays out some intriguing evidence that Obama is purposely trying to undermine the influence of the US, because it is the last great "First World" power. Though the US isn't colonial like France and Britain once were, critics often talk of the US presence in Iraq and Afghanistan as being expansionist and colonial. So, D'Souza argues, as an anti-colonialist Obama wouldn't want the US to be in either of those countries. But political pressures won't allow him to simply withdraw, and in fact these pressures pushed him to send a surge of troops to Afghanistan. But then Obama did something that would have to be understood as incredibly stupid if viewed in any other but an anti-colonial context. After sending the surge Obama sabotaged it, by announcing that it would only last for a year. He let the terrorists know that they just need to hunker down for a year, and if they do that, then after that they will be free to resume their monstrous activities, without hindrance from the US army. So Obama was either very stupid to announce the one year deadline, or, from an anti-colonial perspective, quite brilliant, because he undermined the US's "expansion" into this foreign land, but did so in a way that allowed him to minimized political fallout back home.

I'm not giving D'Souza's anti-colonial hypothesis the detailed explanation it deserves. To properly evaluate his argument you're going to have to read the book, and I would encourage you to do so. I'm not sure he has it totally right, but his hypothesis does a better job of explaining the President's actions than any other theory I've heard. And if you think his hypothesis sounds plain old crazy, I should note, that D'Souza is a well-respected, well credentialed author - he's no right-wing kook. D'Souza has written extensively for the National Review and is currently the president of the King's College in New York City. So yes, his hypothesis sounds strange, but truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. Two very enthusiastic thumbs up!

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