People Really Aren’t Happy With Obama’s Version Of Middle Eastern History

The idea that the Middle East’s troubles are “rooted in conflicts that date back millennia” didn’t go over too well on Twitter.

1. In his final State of the Union address, President Barack Obama spent most of his time discussing his time in office and what the future holds for the United States.

Evan Vucci / AP

2. “The Middle East is going through a transformation that will play out for a generation, rooted in conflicts that date back millennia,” Obama said during the foreign policy section of his speech.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

3. That line…didn’t go over very well on Twitter.

4. Like, at all.

Obama didn't do his history homework saying that conflicts in the Middle East date back to millennia. Utter nonsense.

— Mohamed Daadaoui (@Maghreblog)
Warner Bros.

About time someone called out Nebuchadnezzar for starting these conflicts, lo, so many millennia ago.

— Matthew Schmitz (@matthewschmitz)

Uh, says who? "...rooted in conflicts that date back millennia." #HistoryFactCheckPlease? #SCOTUS

— Molly Haigh (@mollyhaigh)

Dear whoever @WhiteHouse thinks wars happen because groups have hated each other forever, pls read @monkeycageblog:

— Laura Seay (@texasinafrica)

Middle East crises "rooted in conflicts that date back a millennia" -- what is this, Balkan Ghosts 2.0?

— Alexandra Evans (@aletejev)

First half: true. Second half: cynical, self serving and wrong. US should not echo such essentialist errors.

— Tamara Cofman Wittes (@tcwittes)

That millennia-old conflicts line has united both left and right on my Twitter feed in opposition like nothing else I've ever seen.

— Michael Koplow (@mkoplow)

Obama is as ignorant of Mideast history as was George W Bush. His talk of millenia-old conflicts is the smoking gun.

— weddady (@weddady)
Paramount Pictures

Weakest moment of the speech is the claim that the Middle East is embroiled in conflicts that date back millennia. No. #SOTU

— Laila Lalami (@LailaLalami)

Still sort of in awe that Obama used the "millennia"-old conflicts line to justify his policies. @Faysalitani said it best: "obscene."

— Shadi Hamid (@shadihamid)

Kinda weird to say the Middle East violence is "rooted in conflicts that date back millennia." 100 years, ok.

— Zach Carter (@zachdcarter)

"The Middle East is going through a transformation rooted in conflicts that date back millennia." Orientalism 101 at #SOTU #yikes

— Aram Ghoogasian (@aghoogasian)

When he uses the "rooted in conflicts that date back millennia" line.

— Sheera Frenkel (@sheeraf)

22. TL;DR: When it comes to most conflicts, like, say, Saudi Arabia and Iran, it’s about the geopolitics, not the millennia-old anything.


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Hayes Brown is a world news editor and reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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