« Health Reform Distortions |
Blog Home Page
| AG Holder tells Georgia to drop voter ID »
June 4, 2009
Obama's Cairo Speech (Updated)
I have just finished watching President Obama's address at Cairo University and I'm sure some of my colleagues here at AT will be weighing in with their opinions of the speech.
My immediate impression was a sense of sadness. The president's interpretation of the history between Islam and the west is tragically, even dangerously mistaken. He has drawn the wrong lessons from this history and is proceeding from some false assumptions, that if carried through to their logical conclusion, will make the situation between Islam and the west worse. This is because inevitably, his efforts at altering the dynamics of change in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, and the Israeli-Palistnian conflict will fail - with unknown consequences for us all.
The assumption that Islam has a history of "tolerance" for all religions is a dubious one. Tell that to the Christians in Iraq, the West Bank, Egypt itself, and other Arab nations where persecution is the rule not the exception. Obama mentioned Indonesia which does indeed "allow" Christians to worship but also features a history of hostility to the Christian faith and where Christians are second class citizens in many areas of that country.
Another assumption of Obama's that raised alarm bells for me was his belief that no one nation can dominate in his brave new world. Someone should have told our president that the only way the US can be prevented from dominating the world - a domination made manifest by our economic power and spread of our culture as much as our military prowess - is by subsuming our interests to those of other nations or the UN. Of course, this is what liberals have been agitating for - at least since Viet Nam - and Obama is apparently going to give it to them.
But it was Obama's lecture to Muslims about terrorism that fell flatest with his audience.
Nothing highlighted this more than how his audience reacted to much of his analysis about the problems with Islamic extremism. You could hear the crickets chirping as Obama, in his best analysis of the speech, took all of Islam to task for things like 9/11 and Holocaust denial, denial of Israel's right to exist (absolute silence when he said that "Israel isn't going anywhere"), support for al-Qaeda, support for Palestinian violence, and a host of other problematic considerations by Muslims in their conflict with the west.
His words on Iraq were greeted with cheers only when he mentioned American "sins" like torture and "war of choice." Dead silence greeted his announcement that the war in Afghanistan was forced upon us by 9/11. In short, the reaction of his audience, which was made up of non-typical Muslims in that these were largely the educated elites in Egypt, and not the "man in the souk" who makes up the bulk of Muslims in the world, showed that this first effort at outreach failed to move many minds.
The standing ovation given to the president at the end of the speech was significant. It showed that if an American president can humble himself and his country before close minded elites, he will get nice write ups in Arab newspapers and praise from those "moderate" Muslims who are always eager to point out America's sins but rarely give their own transgressions much thought.
This ultimately is why the president will fail to build a bridge to all but those Muslims predisposed to his message of democracy and human rights. The vast majority of his target audience wasn't listening, doesn't want to listen, and rejects his critique of extremist Islam anyway.
The president aimed high and fell flat.
Here's a text of the speech from the New York Times.
Also, liberal Craig Crawford's nauseating, gushing, swooning take on the speech:
For the first time since Jimmy Carter's Camp David accords we have a president with the skills, understanding and commitment to make a real difference in a region that has bedeviled the world for generations. Carter's 1978 brokering of a deal between Egypt and Israel to recognize each other and pursue peace still stands as the only lasting agreement of its kind since those days.
Crawford writes that Obama "knocked it out of the park." No doubt for the left, he did.
Sammy Benoit adds:
President Obama's speech in Cairo was historic. No other President has gone to a foreign nation to so publicly throw a strong ally under the bus. Once again the President, pandered to the Muslim world by dissing Israel, downplaying the role of terrorism, making Hamas look like a rowdy Boys Glee Club, calling for the internationalization of Jerusalem, and using the Palestinian party line to describe the Israeli presence not only in the West Bank and Gaza but its very existence at all.
He started his Israel/Palestinian discussion by talking about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism:
You notice that how he discusses anti-Semitism, without mentioning the fact that the Muslim Middle East is the major supplier of anti-Semitic fervor in the world.
Obama then goes on to talk about the 60+ years of Palestinian suffering, taking the Palestinian view that the very creation of Israel was bad. He mixes the "Christian" Palestinians with the Muslim ones, ignoring the horrible persecution of Palestinian Christians by their Muslim neighbors. Obama also discusses Gaza as an occupied territory.
Mr. President, maybe you didn't read the newspapers in August 2005, but Israel pulled out of Gaza almost four years ago. I saw the preparations -- I was in Jerusalem at the time.
Obama also forgot to mention the role of Egypt and Jordan in making sure that the Palestinians stayed in camps and the fact that there were more Jews thrown out of Muslim countries in 1948 than Arabs leaving Israel. A mistake he repeats:
Displacement? I am almost surprised he didn't use the word nabka (catastrophe) that's what the Muslims call it. Again accepting Muslim propaganda, the President doesn't make the point that the Arab Palestinian's weren't thrown out, they were told to leave by the Arab League states.
Violence? You mean Terrorism? No he doesn't, because in the next few lines he reaches out to Hamas:
He makes Hamas seem like naughty children, "OK Hamas stop hitting your brother." Here again what Obama doesn't say is just as bad as what he says, "recognize Israel's right to exist." The words he missed were, "as a Jewish state". Neither Hamas or the supposedly moderate Fatah recognize Israel as a Jewish State, they both call for flooding the country with millions of Muslims to ensure that Israel becomes another Muslim country:
Not only is Obama throwing Israel to the international wolves, he is ignoring agreements that previous administrations made with Israel about natural growth of existing settlements.
This was one of Bibi Netanyahu's campaign promises, but not as an obligation as a way to peace. This is not Israel's obligation; this is the obligation of Egypt and Jordan who created the problem.
His discussion of the "humanitarian crisis" was a bit disingenuous. Maybe he should have mention why Israel closed the borders, and the fact that Hamas has been stealing many of the supplies heading to Gaza.
Again he doesn't call for the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Now he calls for the internationalization of Israel's capital Jerusalem:
Sammy Benoit is the Editor of the Political Blog, The Lid