We were discussing Nasser’s nationalization of the Suez Canal in my intro to modern Middle East history class today. As the conversation moved toward Nasser’s charisma and popularity someone in the class suggested that Colonel Nasser had a lot in common with President Obama. The discussion quickly turned sophomoric, which maybe shouldn’t be surprising considering how many of my classmates are sophomores. But it was interesting food for thought.
I don’t think one can really make serious comparisons between a military dictator and a democratically elected president, regardless of either one’s charisma or popularity level. I also think that the Nasser-Obama comparison doesn’t do justice to Nasser’s status as a nationalist leader, specifically an Arab nationalist leader. Nor does it appreciate what Obama is and stands for–whatever that might be. Food for thought, nonetheless.