“Tribalism Vs Moral Imagination”: The Two Stories Of America On Display In This Election


From Jeffrey Goldberg’s interview with President Obama, I’ve already written about how he isn’t enamored with “free riders” and how his foreign policy is a challenge to the Washington playbook. The president also talked about how tribalism is the root of the problem in the Middle East right now.

One of the most destructive forces in the Middle East, Obama believes, is tribalism—a force no president can neutralize. Tribalism, made manifest in the reversion to sect, creed, clan, and village by the desperate citizens of failing states, is the source of much of the Muslim Middle East’s problems, and it is another source of his fatalism. Obama has deep respect for the destructive resilience of tribalism—part of his memoir, Dreams From My Father, concerns the way in which tribalism in post-colonial Kenya helped ruin his father’s life—which goes some distance in explaining why he is so fastidious…

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