The First Interview

For the first sit down interview of his Presidency, President Obama chose the English language Arab network, Al Arabiya. This was an opportunity for the President to show his strength and resolve as Commander-in-Chief to our enemies, namely Islamic terrorists and their state sponsors (like Iran and Syria). Unfortunately, Mr. Obama showed neither strength nor resolve. Instead, he appeared defensive about past American actions in the War on Terror.

The President claims that we need a new partnership with the Muslim World based upon mutual respect and mutual interests. That is all well and good. We should respect the Muslim World and they should respect us. However, why is this new? If you will recall, about a week after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush went to a Washington, DC Mosque to show his respect and the respect of the American people. In fact, if anything, the Bush Administration showed too much respect in light of the fact that so called "moderates" in the Muslim World have done little to stop the terrorists in their midst (for example, Egypt has done nothing to stop the smuggling of arms into the Gaza Strip).

Respect goes both ways. Our five most recent major military operations have all been to free Muslims from tyranny. Both conflicts in the Balkans, both wars with Iraq and the war in Afghanistan were fought for the freedom of Muslims. The spilling of US blood and treasure has been the ultimate sign of respect. The Muslim World should repay this respect by taking actions to de-legitimize the use of terror in order to achieve political goals.

Mr. Obama also claimed that extremists of other faiths have used their faith as a justification for violence. While, of course, there are extremists of all kinds, I have no recollection of any mass casualty situation approaching the numbers that we saw on 9/11 caused by Christian, Jewish or Hindu extremists. All extremists should be shunned, but the power and influence of Muslim extremists far outweighs that of extremists of other religions. All you need to do is watch television in Saudi ruled Arabia or the Palestinian territories. There you will see anti-Semitic and anti-American rants, the likes of which will shock almost anyone.

Specifically, as it relates to Iran, the President said that he is using "all tools of American power, including diplomacy, in our relationship with Iran." Implicit in this statement is his hesitation in using US military power to prevent the Iranian regime from obtaining nuclear weapons. This shows weakness on the part of the young President. Rogue regimes do not respond to chit-chat. The Bush Administration and our European allies have been engaged in diplomacy with Iran for years. The only result of the diplomatic efforts is that every day, Iran gets closer to having an operational nuclear weapon. The time for talking about this subject has long since past. Now is the time for action, before we are forced to face a nuclear armed enemy.

Unfortunately, Mr. Obama also objected to the use of the term "War on Terror". It is as if this term is a derogatory term for Muslims. The fact is that terrorism should be one of the primary national security concerns of this administration. It is just happenstance that in today's day and age most international terrorists are Muslims. The combination of terrorists and weapons of mass destruction has the potential of changing our world as we know. Therefore, all of the resources of the US government must be used to end this threat. This is why our struggle against terrorists is properly characterized as a war, regardless of who is perpetrating the terrorism.

Finally, the President claimed that the same respect and partnership that the United States had with the Muslim world 20 or 30 years ago can be restored today. Evidently, Mr. Obama thinks that actions like the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s was a sign of respect toward their American friends. Or, maybe the numerous high jacking of western airliners during the 1970s was out of respect for our efforts in the Middle East.

Unfortunately, the President missed an opportunity to show himself as a strong and confident leader. I certainly hope that John McCain was wrong when he said that it looks like Mr. Obama is trying to run for a second Carter term. If this interview is any indication, he may very well be right.


Anonymous said...

I was wondering how long it would take one of you to jump on this. I had the same thought.

The Daily Pander said...

Was 20-30 years ago really a golden age for U.S./Muslim relations? See Krauthammer (SLB was ahead of Krauthammer on this): http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/29/AR2009012903444.html