Friday, January 30, 2009

Why Is Obama re-writing history?

Charles Krauthammer explains:

... Barack Obama in his inaugural address reached out to Muslims by saying "to the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect,"

... he said so again to millions in his al-Arabiya interview, insisting on the need to "restore" the "same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago."

Two quotes, one from Obama's inaugural speech, the second from his (somewhat cringing) interview with Al-Arabyia.

To the first statement, Krauthammer replies:

In these most recent 20 years -- the alleged winter of our disrespect of the Islamic world -- America did not just respect Muslims, it bled for them. It engaged in five military campaigns, every one of which involved -- and resulted in -- the liberation of a Muslim people: Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The two Balkan interventions -- as well as the failed 1992-93 Somalia intervention to feed starving African Muslims (43 Americans were killed) -- were humanitarian exercises of the highest order, there being no significant U.S. strategic interest at stake. In these 20 years, this nation has done more for suffering and oppressed Muslims than any nation, Muslim or non-Muslim, anywhere on Earth. Why are we apologizing?

To the misremembered past in the second statement, Krauthammer responds:

Thirty years ago, 1979, saw the greatest U.S.-Muslim rupture in our 233-year history: Iran's radical Islamic revolution, the seizure of the U.S. Embassy, the 14 months of America held hostage.

Which came just a few years after the Arab oil embargo that sent the United States into a long and punishing recession. Which, in turn, was preceded by the kidnapping and cold-blooded execution by Arab terrorists of the U.S. ambassador in Sudan and his chargé d'affaires.

This is to say nothing of the Marine barracks massacre of 1983, and the innumerable attacks on U.S. embassies and installations around the world during what Obama now characterizes as the halcyon days of U.S.-Islamic relations.

And as for Obama's "grand admonition: "We cannot paint with a broad brush a faith as a consequence of the violence that is done in that faith's name."

Have "we" been doing that, smearing Islam because of a small minority?

George W. Bush went to the Islamic Center in Washington six days after the Sept. 11 attacks, when the fires of Ground Zero were still smoldering, to declare "Islam is peace," to extend fellowship and friendship to Muslims, to insist that Americans treat them with respect and generosity of spirit.

But I wonder, still. It is impossible that Obama is not fully aware of all of the above. I give him huge credit for knowledge and smarts. So what are his intentions by taking this sycophant approach? I'd like to think that this is all about giving the Muslim world an opening, a pull in the right direction. Look at me, he seems to say, a new American president who understands your grievances. I'm conceding to you your need to feel respected and valued. I'm speaking to you as one who shares to some extent your complaints to the US. You have been demanding such acknowledgement for many years now. I've read your media, I've watched your television broadcasts and I've seen the blogs. I know what you long for and I'm granting it to you, now, with hardly any reservations and even against the actual record. Now, how are you going to respond to this new openness? What are you going to do, and say, from your side (the side of the clenched fists) to make this rapprochement possible?

Have we not seen this before, playing on the smaller stage of his election campaign? Remember Rev. Wright? Obama gave two speeches about Wright's excesses. In the first speech, he defended him, he even dragged his old and sick grandmother by way of mitigating for the Reverend's extravagant fulminations. It was only after the Reverend had gone on his damaging media rampage a few weeks later that Obama gave his second speech in which he distanced himself unequivocally from the Jeremiah who had been a father-figure to him.

So I wonder if the same first instincts for generosity and mollification that motivated Obama in the Wright's case are not calculatedly being displayed here in the much larger arena of global politics, and for much bigger stakes.

Remember this interview with Obama, "The easy way or the hard way"? It somehow fits in with my wonderment.


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UPDATE:

Fouad Ajami showcases the irony in Obama's position as articulated to Al-Arabyia

The irony now is obvious: George W. Bush as a force for emancipation in Muslim lands, and Barack Hussein Obama as a messenger of the old, settled ways. Thus the "parochial" man takes abroad a message that Muslims and Arabs did not have tyranny in their DNA, and the man with Muslim and Kenyan and Indonesian fragments in his very life and identity is signaling an acceptance of the established order. Mr. Obama could still acknowledge the revolutionary impact of his predecessor's diplomacy, but so far he has chosen not to do so.


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