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The World as It Is Summary – Ben Rhodes

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The World as It Is PDFA Memoir of the Obama White House

Do you want a look behind the doors of the Obama administration?

Well, who better to offer you one than Ben Rhodes, one of Obama’s most trusted advisors?

Rhodes tells it all in his 2018 memoir, “The World as It Is.”

Who Should Read “The World as It Is”? And Why?

The World as It Is,” in the words of “The New Yorker” reviewer George Packer, is “the closest view of Obama we’re likely to get until he publishes his own memoir.

So, if you want a behind-the-scenes account of Obama’s presidency, this is the best book you’ll find on the market.

Which means – it’s perfect for people interested in American history and the current state of US politics. Especially in the evolution of its foreign policy views.

Ben RhodesAbout Ben Rhodes

Ben Rhodes is a former White House staffer and American political adviser.

During Obama’s presidency, Rhodes served as the Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting.

He was considered one of Obama’s most trusted aides and was featured in Time’s 40 Under 40 list in 2011.

With Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton, Rhodes has authored one more book, “Without Precedent.”

“The World as It Is PDF Summary”

You certainly remember Barack Obama “Hope” poster.

Well, that’s what Obama represented to many people back in 2008: a beacon of hope.

And Ben Rhodes certainly wasn’t an exception!

A member of his team since 2007, Rhodes was especially involved in Obama’s 2008 global campaign tour, during which Obama first presented his against-the-grain foreign policy stance.

And he was immediately taken by it, since it offered a promise for change, differing significantly from the foreign policies of former presidents and then-current politicians.

For example, as early as 2009, the second year of his presidency, Obama tried to address directly the Muslim world, something no president before him had even attempted.

(Read: Israel. Also read: in 2017, an Israeli private intelligence firm tried to manufacture incriminating information about the author of “The World as It Is” and his wife, in an attempt to blackmail supporters of the Iran nuclear deal).

So, he went to Egypt, “the heart of the Arab world,” and, at Cairo University, he delivered a speech which was hailed by the Muslim world as balanced and vision-offering.

In it, Obama emphasized how the Western world must re-educate itself about the Arab world’s contributions and how the Muslim world must accept the universality of Western notions about human rights and revert to a more liberal form of Islam.

The bottom line: both sides knew too little about each other (or even themselves), and all problems stemmed from this misunderstanding.

Obama’s speech energized the need for change.

Just a year later, the Arab Spring began:

In just two months, the world had turned upside down. We’d seen a regime fall in Tunisia, broken from a longtime U.S. ally in Egypt, and intervened in Libya. History, it seemed, was turning in the direction of young people in the streets, and we had placed the United States of America on their side. Where this drama would turn next was uncertain—protests were already rattling a monarch in Bahrain, a corrupt leader in Yemen, a strongman in Syria.

At first, it was difficult to understand what was happening in Egypt – the country where it all started – and if reiterating the positive vision of the Cairo speech was the right political decision.

For example, Hillary Clinton believed that there was a lot of sense in standing beside Hosni Mubarak’s government, which had been both stable and pro-US for years.

However, privately, Obama’s sympathies lay with the people of the street. “If it were up to him, he told McFaul, he’d prefer that ‘the Google guy’ run Egypt, referring to Wael Ghonim, a prominent activist who was helping to lead the protest movement.”

In time, the situation crystallized and Obama eventually called Mubarak telling him that it’s time for a new government.

In 2011, Obama delivered on one of his most important promises: getting Osama bin Laden.

On his orders, USA’s No. 1 enemy was shot and killed inside a private residential compound in Abbottabad on May 2, during a covert operation.

“We got him,” said Obama back then, telling the nation that justice had been done.

During the last few years in power, the President normalized relations with Cuba, refused to take military action in Syria and pushed through the Iran nuclear weapons deal, despite strong opposition.

He also lost the Information War with Russia, accepting the fact that fighting against fake news using the same means leads to a worse, and not a better world.

Key Lessons from “The World as It Is”

1.      Obama Would Have Inadvertently Quoted Hitler Once… in Berlin!
2.      Obama’s Unique Upbringing Profoundly Influenced His Views
3.      Obama Was Surprised When America Chose Trump

Obama Would Have Inadvertently Quoted Hitler Once… in Berlin!

The highlight of Barack Obama’s foreign policy tour of 2008 was a July 24 speech in Berlin, delivered before the Berlin Victory Column.

A call for peace and an apology of globalization given in front of a monument of a war victory, the speech was an enormous success, and some parts of it you can find engraved on the floor of one of Berlin’s most attractive malls even a decade later.

However, everything could have ended a lot worse if Obama wouldn’t have double-checked one of the ending lines of the speech just hours before the event.

While doing that, he discovered that the word “Shicksalsgemeinschaft” (meaning “community of fate”) – one which he initially wanted to quote in German – had, in fact, been the title of one of Adolf Hitler’s best-known speeches!


Obama’s Unique Upbringing Profoundly Influenced His Views

Obama was born in Hawaii, a former US colony, to a white mother of mostly English descent and a black Kenyan father.

During the second half of the 1960s, he lived in Indonesia, where a US-sponsored coup led to a violent government purge which, according to today’s estimates, resulted in the death of at least million people, mostly communists.

Obama’s great-uncle, on the other hand, was one of the people who liberated the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany.

All this, combined, resulted in Obama’s unique understanding of American exceptionalism, which, to him, meant much more than a list of ideals.

Case in point: when in Turkey, he tackled the controversial issue of Turkey’s treatment of minorities by talking about America’s treatment of Native and African Americans in the past.

However, this was met with criticism back in the United States, where his stance on the Muslim detainees in the Guantanamo Bay prison (stuck in a “legal black hole”) led to a widespread belief that Obama was a Muslim.

And, if we recall well, Trump was not above correcting his voters that this is entirely untrue.

Obama Was Surprised When America Chose Trump

It seems that Obama naively believed in truth and globalism, so he was astonished to find that the United States chose Trump to be its President.

A serious problem since, basically, the only thing Trump wanted to talk about with Obama a week after his election was the size of his campaign rallies.

Obama’s advice on how to deal with Trump:

Find some high ground and hunker down.

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“The World as It Is Quotes”

You can’t change things unless you change the people making the decisions. Click To Tweet

My being president appears to have literally driven some white people insane. Click To Tweet

People didn’t just see Obama but felt seen by him. Click To Tweet

This is how the White House learned that Tripoli was about to fall: on Twitter. Click To Tweet

Holding out for a better deal (with Iran) was not going to work. It was diplomacy or war. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

“The World as It Is” was always going to be somewhat biased – after all, Rhodes is Obama’s friend – but it’s surprising how candid it is regardless of that.

Joe Klein is right when he says in “The New York Times Book” review that Rhodes’ “achievement is rare for a political memoir: he has written a humane and honorable book.”

Also – at least in our opinion – one that makes us long for a new president.

There, we said it.

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