Obama and Netanyahu See Iran Differently because They See Their Own Countries Differently

Expect U.S. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to keep battling over the Iranian nuclear deal until the day it is signed, if not longer. The reason: Their conflict isn’t fundamentally about numbers of centrifuges and percentages of enriched uranium. It’s about a different view of the world.

Among American presidents, Barack Obama’s international experience is highly unusual. Many of his predecessors entered the White House having spent no significant time overseas. A few, like Franklin Roosevelt, were familiar with Western Europe. But Obama, who spent almost four years as a child in Indonesia, and later travelled to Kenya to better understand his father, is rare among presidents in having had deep experience in the developing world. That helps him grasp, as few American politicians can, why so many Africans, Asians, Middle Easterners and Latin Americans reject the United States’ self-conception as a champion of freedom.

In his campaign book, “The Audacity of Hope,” Obama notes that in Indonesia, the United States backed a coup that led to “between 500,000 and one million people” being “slaughtered” and “750,000 others imprisoned or forced into exile.” In a foreign policy speech early in the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama imagined a child in Darfur, Djibouti or Baghdad peering at an American helicopter flying overhead. Then he asked, “when those faces look up at an American helicopter, do they feel hope, or do they feel hate?”

– Read more: Obama and Netanyahu See Iran Differently because They See Their Own Countries Differently – Peter Beinart, Haaretz

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