By WILLIAM MAYER and BEILA RABINOWITZ
June 4, 2009 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - In a much anticipated speech delivered today in Cairo, Egypt, president Obama presented his administration's views on American foreign policy as it pertains to the Muslim world.
The address itself [available here] provides the clearest insight yet into what changes the new administration is contemplating in dealing with what seems to be the two major points of contention between the Middle East and the West, the war on terror and continued U.S. support of Israel.
The speech took place against a backdrop in which team Obama has already taken numerous actions calculated to curry favor with the Islamists including closing GITMO, funding the corrupt Palestinian Authority to "reconstruct" Gaza to the tune of $900 million, pressuring Israel's new Netanyahu administration for additional concessions in the moribund "peace process" and through its Homeland Security chief Napolitano, banishing in governmental communications nearly every valid descriptor of terrorism fueled by fundamentalist Islamic beliefs.
Providing additional color, the event was "hosted" by both Cairo University and Al Azhar University, also in Cairo, acknowledged as the world's premiere Sunni religious training center which is widely believed to have spawned entire generations of Muslim radicals including Omar Abdel-Rahman, the "Blind Sheikh" who is now serving a life term in federal prison for his role as the spiritual leader for the 1993 World Trade Center bombers as well as directing a plot to blow up additional New York landmarks. Al Azhar is also well known as a stronghold for the Muslim Brotherhood.
Broadly defined, Obama's speech consisted almost entirely of pandering to the Middle East, presenting an inauthentic picture of the nature of the clash between the West and Islam.
Analyzing the speech, point by point:
1. Digging into the text of Obama's address we find him referring at its inception to Al Azhar University, on of the event's co-sponsors, "For over a thousand years, Al-Azhar has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning" without even a mention of the university's true function within Sunni Islam in modern times, as source of orthodoxy for Salafism/Wahhabism, i.e. radical Islam.
Later in the speech he refers to a list of Muslim accomplishments, " As a student of history, I also know civilizations debt to Islam. ...It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed."
All of these claims are suspect, for example most authorities including the encyclopedia Britannica, place the discovery of the magnetic compass outside the Muslim world, "Plausible records indicate that the Chinese were using the magnetic compass around ad 1100, western Europeans by 1187, Arabs by 1220, and Scandinavians by 1300." [source, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/407011/navigation/61180/The-magnetic-compass#ref363557]
Algebra indeed seems to have had a start in what is now the Muslim world [Babylonia] however since this discovery took place about a thousand years [circa 1,600-1,800 BC] before the time of Mohammed, it couldn't possibly have been a "Muslim accomplishment."
It demeans the entire process to throw about such statements as being true, when at best they are highly debatable. Mr. Obama's grasp of historical fact is suspect.
2. "The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of co-existence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has been fed by 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."
Bringing up the bugaboo of colonialism is a favorite line of attack by leftists intent upon diminishing the contributions of the West. Many of the Middle East's Muslim countries actively sought out relationships with the Soviet Union, with Egypt, Iraq, Syria and Libya being a prime examples. This was done so that these countries could join with the Soviets in opposition to the United States. Yasser Arafat's terrorist PLO was trained by the KGB and funded by the Soviets. To the extent that Middle Eastern countries were "proxies" to this process, they were in large part willing participants.
3. "The first nation to recognize my country was Morocco. In signing the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796, our second President John Adams wrote..."
Without getting into arcana, let us state that this treaty was not a recognition of the United States, it was a treaty whereby America was supposed to be able to avoid predation by the Barbary pirates, who projected force for the Muslim nations of North Africa at the time. This is not even the first treaty entered into between the United States and a foreign country.
4. "And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear."
This is a very troubling statement, Mr. Obama is president of the United States and therefore an agent of the American people. "Fighting against negative stereotypes of Islam," is not part of his job description.
5. "Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice ones religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state of our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That is why the U.S. government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, and to punish those who would deny it."
This is a disingenuous statement. Religious freedom is not threatened, in any venue in the United States. The government's intrusion into matters such as the wearing of hijab in the workplace primarily serves the Islamists who hope to carve out special rights for Muslims, consistent with Shari'a, a concept foreign to American traditionalism, constitutional principles and U.S. sovereignty.
6. "So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America."
Yes it is part of America but an insignificant part constituting about 1/2 of 1% of the American populace. The majority of American Muslims are Black Muslims, not Arab or Middle Eastern Muslims. Perhaps in future dealings with the Muslim world Mr. Obama will not rely on spurious factoids presented by [America's first Muslim Congressman] Keith Ellison and his ilk.
7. "And I believe that America holds within her the truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share common aspirations to live in peace and security; to get an education and to work with dignity; to love our families, our communities, and our God. These things we share. This is the hope of all humanity."
This is no doubt the basis of traditional American values, however it is promulgated by our Judeo/Christian religious underpinning. To assume, as does Mr. Obama, that these are commonly shared ideals worldwide is sophistry. One of the primary difficulties in dealing with the Muslim world is Islamic triumphalism. While Christianity and Judaism have largely shorn themselves of the belief that one religion should be accorded the status of ultimate truth in a society, Islam finds itself at least hundreds of years behind in that process.
8. "When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon, the risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations."
The history of the nuclear age does not bear this out, there have been exactly two uses of nuclear weapons, both justified as a matter of ending the most destructive war in modern history, World War II. Many argue that it was the presence of American nuclear might that prevented a hot war with the Soviet Union, it knowing that it could not possibly triumph in such a conflict. This nuclear standoff could easily have saved millions of lives.
Of perhaps greater interest, this is one of many instances in this speech [and it appeared repeatedly during his campaign] of unjustified moral equivalency being used by Obama. All who possess nuclear weapons are not cut from the same cloth, Iran would employ nuclear weapons very differently than has the United States and to equate the two in that manner is beyond foolish.
9. "The first issue that we have to confront is violent extremism in all of its forms."
What kind of extremism is he talking about? We are left to guess that it might have to do with something endemic to the Middle East but he refuses to be specific. It is an absurd proposition to talk in generalities so vaguely defined. Obama, through many actions, not the least of which have been the efforts at the Dept. of State and most recently by his homeland security chief Napolitano, has intentionally stripped governmental communication, in written and oral form, of the language's most important descriptors necessary to be able to define what kind of "extremism" he is referring to. The word terrorism, for example has been officially banned, it does not appear anywhere in this address.
10. "Because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women, and children. And it is my first duty as President to protect the American people."
Assuming such does not bring it about. This is the real trouble with speeches which are intentionally crafted to force no real hard choices. It stands to reason that there are significant numbers of Muslims who not only approve of, " the killing of innocent men, women, and children" but maintain that it is a Muslim's religious duty. Note to president Obama, many of these people graduated in religious studies from Al Azhar University.
11. "Let me also address the issue of Iraq. Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world. Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible."
In actuality, both Afghanistan and Iraq were wars of choice. Obama simply can't find a reason to delegitimize the former. It seems that if we have the moral directive to intervene in Bosnia militarily, installing an artificial Muslim regime, then Iraq is justifiable simply because of the threat that Saddam posed. Irrespective of "bad" intelligence, no one promised WMD stockpiles, however we obviously suspected they were there. Buttressing that claim, Saddam acted as if it were true, otherwise why would he not just open the country up for the UN inspectors and avoid an imminent confrontation? Tellingly, President Clinton and the entire Democrat leadership believed the WMD angle, stating if often and loudly, until they were faced with a real war, a bit of very tough going and the prospect of a victory for GW Bush, at which point they actively and shamelessly turned tail and promoted American defeat.
12. "The second major source of tension that we need to discuss is the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world. Americas strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied. "
Probably the strongest statement in this speech, considering the audience. What it lacks however and what makes it ultimately unsatisfying is a direct statement that Israel as a Jewish state has a right to exist, not just based upon the Holocaust but upon the fact that Israel existed in an antiquity extending far before the time of Mohammed, or Jesus Christ for that matter. The problems endemic in such a misreading of history and matters of equity are demonstrated in the next passage.
13. "On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people Muslims and Christians have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations large and small - that come with occupation."
For all the lip service devoted to the Palestinian struggle "in pursuit of a homeland," at every juncture where it seemed possible [underwritten by security demeaning concessions made by the Israelis] to establish a Palestinian state, it was ultimately rejected by the self-appointed representatives of the Palestinian people.
Obama's reading of this struggle is almost entirely a fable. There is one reason why a Palestinian state doesn't exist, the Muslim world will not permit it. Until that is recognized as the main impediment, the current stalemate, or worse, beckons. This is another example of Obama's moral equivalency. The legitimacy of claims made for their respective homelands by the Israelis and Palestinians are disproportionate, correctly weighted in favor of the Israelis. There has never been a state of Palestine, and there is no reasonable basis to suggest that there should be now. As to occupation, losing wars carries consequences, perhaps weaker parties should be more careful with whom they engage in armed conflict.
14. "Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, and recognize Israel's right to exist."
Why should it do this, Mr. Obama? By violence [and with the help of clueless administrations] the Islamists have advanced the goal of a permanent base [Palestine/aka Hamastan] to carry out the jihad against Israel. Why would the Islamists give up that provably effective mechanism now, accepting "peace" on the verge of victory? Destruction of the state of Israel is the key defining point of Hamas as well as Abbas' Palestinian Authority. Obama is preaching an unreal tale here.
15. "a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed (peace be upon them joined in prayer."
This statement proves the president subscribes to the controversial statement that Islam is one of three Abrahamic faiths, tracing the roots of Islam back to Ishmael despite any clearly identifiable historical trail and no evidence that Ishmael strayed from father Abraham's faith. The "Abrahamic faith" gambit is a canard, intentionally offered to sow confusion. The Muslim pronouncement, peace be upon them, especially as applied to Moses and Jesus by Obama is simply disgusting.
16. "The fourth issue that I will address is democracy. I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other. That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people."
In most of the Muslim world right now, popular elections will result in theocratic governments. Whatever secular rule exists within the Muslim Middle East, it is a result of regimes such as Mubarak's. These regimes are necessarily repressive. In the case of Egypt, a popular vote would most certainly result in a triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood, the progenitor of modern Islamic terrorism.
17. "The fifth issue that we must address together is religious freedom. Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance. We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition."
The totality of Islam's history suggests exactly the opposite. Perhaps Mr. Obama should acquaint himself with understanding how Muslim Arabs came to dominate Spain [which he in full dhimmi mode refers to by the name coined by the Muslims, indicative of its status as a conquered Islamic nation, Andalusia...indefensible] in the first place. Any student of history of the erudition that Obama claims should realize that within a matter of a few hundred years after its inception, Islam conquered all of formerly Christian North Africa and large parts of Western Europe. It was not done under a theory of religious tolerance. The Muslim siege of Europe was not broken until a process starting with the battle of Lepanto  and the final breaking of the siege of Vienna , thus repelling the Muslim Ottomans.
18. "The sixth issue that I want to address is womens rights."
The term "women's rights," as ordinarily understood in the West is foreign to Islam. Islam is patriarchal in the extreme and most Muslim societies manifest the lowly status of women. There is simply no reasonable equivalent for the way women are treated in the West and the way the Islamic law prescribes they be treated. Anything said past that point rests on quicksand.
The rest of Obama's speech consists essentially of fluff, keyed to the president's advocacy of a grab bag of useless central government type top down, command economy programs, commissions, joint-partnerships, internships, exchange programs and the like with the Muslim world...none of which will work or have any measurably positive effect.
In many ways Obama is a salesman who really doesn't believe in his product. His background as a community organizer, his statements, associations and issues' advocacy all suggest that he finds America to be a tragically flawed, unfair country; one of the reasons he so identifies with foreign audiences. This is why in these overseas pronouncements it's easy for the president to serve up what he thinks his audience wants to hear, because he and his audience harbor many of the same views.
In summation there is nothing offered in Obama's major address but pandering to the Islamists who by their belligerence, have set the tone for the debate as well as its central points. This speech will not change that.
Obama offered no real challenge to the Muslim world in this effort, only a revisionist telling of history that in large part affirms the preexisting Muslim world view.
Symbolically this speech served to whitewash Islam's many controversial aspects while undermining America's ability to positively affect the political/religious discourse in the Middle East.
In retrospect, calling this event disastrous might be seen as an understatement.
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