while we’re on the subject, here’s a data point to suggest that Obama’s position hasn’t led the Arab public (or the Arab elite, anyway) to become wary of him. Marc Lynch just got back from the US-Islamic World Forum in Doha and files this report: “The US elections absolutely dominated the conversations, with Obama the runaway favorite. Most of the Arab participants I talked to seemed fascinated by Obama, and frightened by McCain.” Maybe the Arabs in Doha don’t have a problem with the odd missile attack on Pakistan’s tribal areas either.
Don’t be the least bit surprised if the Arab world looks discreetly away from a few flattened camps in Pakistan. Radical islamists just aren’t all that popular in the Muslim world, and if it weren’t for Iraq and Abu Ghraib and the Bushie tendency to talk like we’re waging the tenth Crusade the phenomenon would be a lot more obvious.
Let the Pakistani elections serve as a useful measure for the actual relevance of radical Islamists among Muslims at large. Indeed given widespread unrest over the Musharraf status quo and seemingly unstoppable expansions of Islamist power in the tribal areas and the cities alike, the situation seemed fairly ripe for those groups. Yet when the people spoke Islamist parties had their asses handed to them. If Bush in Afghanistan raised few eyebrows then I doubt that moderate Muslims will lose much sleep over the idea of a President whom they generally respect rooting out radical medievalists like the criminal gangs that they are.