Thursday, June 04, 2009

Obama's Egypt Speech

President Obama delivered a much-anticipated, much-dreaded speech in Cairo today. The transcript is here.

Hugh Hewitt's reaction is two-fold:

There are two great objections to the speech. First is its false idea that the ideas within it represent a huge break with the Bush Administration's policies with regard to Islam. Of course they don't. George Bush said essentially the same things about the war's non-religous character on many major occasions. Bush's allies in the war are Obama's allies, and Bush's enemies are Obama's enemies, because those allies and enemies are opposed to or support the United States, not a particular president. President Obama's extraordinary vanity as to the power of his own story should continue to trouble realists across the political spectrum. None of the ruthless men who guide our greatest enemies care a whit about where the president was born or who is parents were. They don't care either about his Muslim ancestors. They hate America. They hated America before George Bush became president and they will hate it after Barack Obama leaves office.

The second biggest objection is to the paragraphs devoted to Israel, which began with incomplete history and theory, and then veered off into the worst sort of moral equivalence:

America's 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.

Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed - more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, ignorant, and hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction - or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews - is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.

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. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.

"On the other hand?"... This last paragraph is a profound betrayal of Israel suggesting as it does that Israel has done to the Palestinians what the Nazis did to Jews, which will no doubt shock many Americans and of course many Israelis while becoming a standard text for the most radical among the Palestinians. It was clearly carefully crafted to indulge Palestinian and Arab narratives about what has happened in the past 61 years while maintaining plausible deniability for the president's supporters who are also supporters of Israel, but it fails to fool anyone for even a moment. Israelis should finally grasp if they haven't already that the ground of the American-Israel alliance is quaking beneath them.

Before Obama left for Egypt, several columnists wrote the speech they wished the president would deliver but were certain he wouldn't.

Dennis Prager's Obama speech included this:

"To my great disappointment, many Muslims have come to believe that my country has declared war on Muslims and Islam.

"[T]he truth is, as noted by the Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist for the American newspaper the Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer, in the last 20-30 years America did not just respect Muslims, it bled for Muslims. We Americans engaged in five military campaigns on behalf of Muslims, each one resulting in the liberation of a Muslim people: Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.

So, in fact, in these 20 years, my country, the United States of America has done more for suffering and oppressed Muslims than any other nation, Muslim or non-Muslim.

"While I recognize that gratitude is the rarest positive human quality, I need to say -- because candor is the highest form respect -- that America has not only not received little gratitude from the Muslim world, it has been the object of hatred, mass murder, and economic attack from Muslim individuals, groups, and countries.

"So, my friends here in Egypt, between America and the Muslim world, who exactly has been making war on whom?"

Robert Spencer, in Real Clear Politics, has another, stronger take on what Obama's speech should have included:

I must speak honestly with you. It puzzles and pains Americans to see ourselves vilified and hated for trying to help others. Now, unlike the Islamic Republic of Iran and other Islamic entities, we seek no apologies, no restitution. We do not ask for a word of thanks for our numerous attempts to help Muslim societies become safe, prosperous places to live for all their citizens. We do not ask for your approval. But at this point we are going to cease efforts to build bridges of understanding with the Islamic world that have turned out to be fruitless, and even self-defeating.

We have showered billions on Pakistan to enable the Pakistani government to fight the Islamic jihadists, only to see a great deal of that money being funneled to those same jihadists, who are now stronger than ever.

We have tried to establish democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan, only to see non-Muslim minorities treated worse than ever, such that they have been streaming out of Iraq in unprecedented numbers, while the few that remain in Afghanistan are subject to increasingly violent persecution.

We have brokered peace treaty after peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians - from Camp David to Oslo to the Road Map for Peace - only to see the Palestinian side again and again trample upon its commitments to recognize and respect Israel's basic right to exist.

I have offered you America's outstretched hand. In doing so I have followed a path blazed by my predecessors. But that gesture of conciliation has never been reciprocated. And so now, even as my good will is still extended to you, I must act more realistically.

Pakistan and other Muslim countries will not receive another penny of American aid unless and until they demonstrate - in a transparent and inspectable fashion - that they are working against, not abetting, the forces of the global jihad. This will include instituting comprehensive nationwide programs to teach against the jihad doctrine of Islamic supremacism, teaching that Muslims and non-Muslims must live together as equal citizens on an indefinite basis, without any attempts by Muslims to subjugate non-Muslims as inferiors under the rule of Islamic law.

I trust you will understand that we cannot continue to fund the cutting of our own throat.

Exactly. Too bad our Appeaser-in-Chief doesn't see it quite that way. He's too busy preparing Israel for the sacrificial slaughter. And if we haven't turned him out of office by the time that's been finished, he'll start preparing our throat for the same treatment.


janice said...

Well said by all.....

Malott said...


I appreciate the condensed version of Obama's speech... I can't stomach watching him.

He is definitely throwing Israel under the bus... And may God fix his wagon for doing so... And may God have mercy upon the rest of us.

SkyePuppy said...


And may God fix his wagon for doing so...

When I was a kid and we played Rummy with my grandmother, whenever we started to get ahead of her, she'd say, "I'll fix your little tugboat!"

I haven't heard anything remotely like that since, until now. Thank you.

And yes, may He fix Obama for what he's doing.

Tsofah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Nice roundup.

I'm not sure about Robert Spencer's idea, in terms of meeting realistic expectations. We've always had to deal with bad foreign leaders and worse foreign leaders. Realistically, I don't foresee Pakistan doing as he desires.

Musharraf wasn't perfect by any means; but he had made the decision to ally with us in the war on terror and did what he could to root out Taliban and Islamic fundamentalist sympathizers from his government. Through him, we got KSM and other important al Qaeda leaders.

Do we wish they did more? Sure! But it's wishful thinking. And it's easy for us to criticize without seeing what a Musharraf has to juggle and tightrope dance his way through. Publicly, the Pakistani government finds itself having to condemn U.S. involvement within its borders; but secretly, they've been working with us and approving Predator strikes.

With Musharraf out, Pakistan is on a dangerous brink.