Obama’s Bow to the Muslim World, Round II

Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, a Research Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, and a Professor of Classics and Humanities at the California State University. He is the author of nine books and numerous essays on classical culture and its influence on Western Civilization. His most recent book, Democracy's Dangers and Discontents (Hoover Institution Press), is now available for purchase.


Pages: 1 2

In September 1938 English Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, explaining why he was flying to Germany a third time in order to make peace with Germany, recited the old nursery rhyme: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.” Cynical wags in the Foreign Office, who knew Chamberlain was in fact appeasing Hitler by surrendering Czechoslovakia to him, quickly began circulating another version of the saying: “If at first you don’t concede, fly, fly, fly again.”

President Obama’s new “outreach” to the Muslim world reminds me of Chamberlain’s serial efforts to appease a Germany bent on aggression and conquest. First there was the Cairo speech in June 2009, which was supposed to be a “new beginning” for U.S. relations with Muslims, but in fact simply indulged the same old bad habits of Western self-doubt and historical guilt. Thus Obama attributed the “tension” between the West and Islam to a “colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold war in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations.”  Next came the videotaped New Year’s greetings to Iran, and the multiple letters to the Iranian “Supreme Leader” Ali Khamenei requesting “co-operation in regional and bilateral relations.” These outreaches were followed by Khameini’s announcement that “the path of Iran’s nuclear progress could not be blocked,” and by the brutal crackdown that summer on the demonstrators protesting the tyranny of the mullahcracy. Meanwhile Iran continues its support of terrorists murdering our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Obama also extended the hand of friendship to Syria’s Bashar al Assad, sending an ambassador back to Damascus despite that country’s close ties to Iran and Hezbollah, its assassination of Lebanese former prime minister Rafiq Hariri, and its support given to terrorists by facilitating their travel into Iraq and Afghanistan. Assad reciprocated by hosting a confab with Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah and Iran’s genocidal Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And like his Iranian buddies, Assad has responded to the current demonstrations against his regime by killing about a thousand protestors. Nor has Obama’s abandonment of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak worked any magic in changing the Egyptians into liberal democrats or even making them like us more. The jihadist Muslim Brotherhood daily grows more powerful, attacks on Christian Copts, abetted at times by the military, are proliferating, the border with Gaza is open, and more and more Egyptians are calling for trashing the peace treaty with Israel. Unsurprisingly, according to a May Pew Research survey, only 20% of Egyptians view the United States favorably, and only 35% have “a lot” or “some confidence” in Obama’s leadership.

In short, every time Obama has offered his hand to Muslims in friendship, the less he and America are liked, and the less events trend in directions favorable to our national interests. Now comes another effort, the recent May 19 address to the Muslim world that attempted to take account of the demonstrations and protests roiling the Middle East, and to outline America’s response. And like those previous efforts, this one will do little to change either perceptions or events, for it is predicated on the same dubious assumptions and misapprehensions that have compromised our reactions to the Muslim world.

The main thrust of Obama’s speech in the main reprises the same Bush Doctrine that the president and his party spent years attacking. The problems of the Muslim Middle East, in this view, result from a lack of political and economic “self-determination” and “universal rights” that prevents people from enjoying freedom and prosperity. Tyrannical rulers and jihadist outfits alike exploit this frustration and despair, attempting “to direct their people’s grievances elsewhere,” as Obama puts it, blaming the West, colonialism, and Israel for all that ails the Middle East. The solution, then, is for the United States “to promote reform across the region, and to support transitions to democracy” so that people can obtain “a set of universal rights” including “free speech; the freedom of peaceful assembly; freedom of religion; equality for men and women under the rule of law; and the right to choose your own leaders.” In addition, economic reform will be supported through efforts “to build networks of entrepreneurs, and expand exchanges in education; to foster cooperation in science and technology, and combat disease.” More practically, this means encouraging the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to provide funds, asking Congress to create Enterprise funds for investment, and forgiving $1 billion in Egyptian debt, with promises of access to $1 billion more.

Pages: 1 2

  • kafir4life

    In 607 days, 5 and a half hours this national nightmare will be over.

    • Jim_C

      You forgot to add the four years following that to your equation.

      • ziontruth

        Four more years, huh? Looking forward to living in a giant Cuba North, are you?

        • Jim_C

          Definitely!

  • Jim_C

    I'm pretty sure Obama's vision for the Middle East is the same as mine: a place that keeps shipping oil until it runs out and refrains from exporting its violence.

    I'm truly disinterested in just about anything else.

    • ziontruth

      Speaking of oil, it's your precious president who's preventing the U.S. of A. from easing dependency on the Middle East, in his moratorium on local oil drilling.

      How people stick for their abusers is one of the great mysteries of existence.

    • ajnn

      I wish that was his vision. Better than his actual nonsense.

  • bolg

    Obama’s Challenge and the Illusory Arab Spring (G. Friedman, STRATFOR)

    Obama’s conundrum is that there is still much uncertainty as to whether that coalition would be stronger with current, albeit embattled, regimes or with new regimes that could arise from the so-called Arab Spring. He began to address the problem with an empirical assumption critical to his strategy that in my view is questionable, namely, that there is such a thing as an Arab Spring.

    Let me repeat something I have said before: All demonstrations are not revolutions. All revolutions are not democratic revolutions. All democratic revolutions do not lead to constitutional democracy.

    Read more: Obama and the Arab Spring | STRATFOR

    • Jim_C

      That is quite true, which is why the many calls for Obama to "pick a side" which have appeared on this site after the Iranian elections, the uprisings in Egypt, Libya, Syria et al are patently absurd and motivated by the ignoble desire to make Obama appear foolish rather than act in the interests of our country.

  • BLJ

    Obama is a muslim. The friggin guy's middle name is Hussein. He is buddies with the Muslim Brotherhood as well as being a puppet of George Soros.

    The people who defend this creep are either very stupid or come from the same cloth.

    • bill

      you hit the nail right on the head brother hood all over the mid east when the revoltis are over

  • John

    I find it amusing that all of these photos taken of Obama always seem to show him from the angle of his best side. Never face to face, just always his butt to the camera.

    • Steve Chavez

      Yes and it sends chills up Chris Matthew's leg and then…

  • StephenD

    Well thought out analysis; perhaps even prophetic. I sure hope it isn't. To be sure, we ought to get the mud out of our ears and the scale from our eyes. Unlike Chamberlain, we have recent historical reference points. What the hell will be our excuse if we fail to act accordingly?

  • sydchaden

    Muslims have been killing Muslims for more than a thousand years. Sunnis have been killing Shiites, and Shiites have been killing each other, and both have been killing Christians and Jews, for more than a thousand years. The reason for this has not been "Freedom" or "Democracy". The reason has been Islam. Ask any imam. Perhaps the reason that infidels can't grasp this, is that they are infidels.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    With respect to the Bush Doctrine, it is a leftwing liberal fantasy based political correct assumption, as it ignores 1300 plus years of perpetual jihad conquest against unbelievers, and as an assumption it is about as delusional and idiotic as it gets. Yet thanks to Bush, a stealth Leftists, we have waged two fantasy-based nation-building missions based on this absurd Bush Doctrine, that have predictably turned out to be the two biggest strategic blunders in the history of the USA. Worse yet, we have a cabal of delusional Leftists and Neo-cons in this country that still dominates and monopolizes all discourse and that are still advocating like unhinged fools that we continue pursuing both absurd liberal fantasy based nation-building missions even though it should be more than obvious by now that both missions have already long ago miserably failed.

    The main problem in the Islamic world, not just in the Middle East, is that Islam isn’t a religion in the same sense that we understand religions to be, as Islam is far closer to being a competing totalitarian ideology like Communism than it is to being a religion, since like Communism, Islam also seeks to dominate the world, and the end result of Islam exactly like Communism is totalitarianism, poverty, despair, hopelessness, hunger, and lots and lots of misery.

    Hence, the problem isn’t comprised of tyrannical rulers and jihadist outfits alike that exploit people’s frustration and despair, attempting “to direct their people’s grievances elsewhere.” The problem instead arises out of Islam, which is the biggest scourge the world has ever known. Indeed, do heavy-handed tyrants – Saddam, Mubarak, Qaddafi, et al – create brutal societies, or do naturally brutal societies create the need for heavy-handed tyrants to keep order? In this case, the answer is obviously the latter: naturally brutal societies create the need for heavy-handed tyrants to keep order. Hence, democracy in such an environment will simply be used as a vehicle for tyrants to seize power. Thus, stop pushing democracy in the Islamic world, because obviously not all cultures are the same.

    Hence, I hate to rain on the Left’s and the Neo-Con’s delusional fantasies once again, but the so-called “Arab Spring” is really an “Arab Mirage,” as the last thing that will ever happen in the Islamic world is that Muslims will embrace democracy and freedom.

    We have rescued Muslims from murderous thugs in Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan; we have transferred billions and billions to Muslim nations,

    Hmm…with all due respect, our unhinged leaders were finagled via taqiyya into fighting a jihad of conquest on the behalf of the Islamic world against what were formerly our Christian Serb allies and friends in Bosnia and Kosovo, and for which the 9/11 terrorist attacks was the Islamic world’s expression of appreciation, and in Iraq and Afghanistan, and including also in Libya today, we are attempting to rescue people that are in reality our enemies.

    including the terrorist PLO; we have spent our blood and treasure to create for Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan the freedom and self-determination Obama’s speech proclaims we support and Muslims desire; we have done all this, yet outside Indonesia and Lebanon, not even 1 in 5 Muslims like us. Maybe it’s time to rethink our assumptions.

    I wouldn’t go so far as to exclude Indonesia and Lebanon from your equation, as non-Muslim unbelievers living in both countries are violently oppressed and systematically persecuted when not outright slaughtered altogether, exactly like in all Islamic majority countries across the world.

    Nevertheless, the reasons Muslims hate us has nothing whatsoever to do with what the West does or does not do. Indeed, it is a manifestation of Islam, as Muslims are obligated to have nothing but enmity in their hearts for unbelievers, and they can’t maintain that enmity in their hearts without the constant incitement to hatred and violence that incessantly takes place throughout the Islamic world.

    We [believers] disown you [non-believers, including family] and what you worship besides Allah. We renounce you. Enmity and hate shall forever reign between us—until you believe in Allah alone (Koran 60:4).

    Indeed, it is long past time that we rethink our idiotic fantasy based assumptions, and hopefully we can begin with mass Muslim immigration to the West before it is too late.

    • curmudgeon

      "Hmm…with all due respect, our unhinged leaders were finagled via taqiyya into fighting a jihad of conquest on the behalf of the Islamic world against what were formerly our Christian Serb allies and friends in Bosnia and Kosovo, and for which the 9/11 terrorist attacks was the Islamic world’s expression of appreciation, and in Iraq and Afghanistan, and including also in Libya today, we are attempting to rescue people that are in reality our enemies. "

      wow. you said it all. no need to even comment.

  • Arthur

    u guys r hating cuz hes black

    • pablo

      look whos talking

    • curmudgeon

      dude, i object to the white azzwhole, clinton, waging jihad against the christians of serbia. i object to the white azzwhole, bush, engaging in stupid wars to try to establish democracy where it isnt wanted, while inviting the enemy, muslims, to colonize our country, and i object to the half black azzwhole, the current traitor in chief, enlarging on the stupid anti-american policies of his predecessors. do you understand, racist trash?

  • ramirez

    thats what ur mom said last night

  • black opper

    black ops black ops

  • curmudgeon

    your comparison is flawed. neville chamberlain wasnt a nazi. get it?