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  • Barack Obama’s Massive Middle East Mea Culpa

    Dr. Nile Gardiner is the Director of the Heritage Foundation’s Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom. Today he commented on President Obama’s speech in Cairo, Egypt for the Daily Telegraph. Below is his commentary in its entirety:

    It’s never easy delivering a landmark speech before a foreign audience, and a potentially hostile one at that. Barack Obama gave a 56-minute address before a Muslim audience in Cairo that was well received and drew a standing ovation. He made some good points about the need for greater religious tolerance on the part of governments in the Middle East, and more respect for women’s rights, points that President Bush made numerous times when he was president.

    The speech was however highly problematic in many ways, and a continuation of the theme of atoning for America’s past. Here are some of the key negative points in his speech that will backfire on both the President and the United States.

    • Obama attacked the decision to go to war in Iraq – “a war of choice” – it “reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible” etc, without even mentioning the fact Saddam Hussein was failing to comply with several Security Council resolutions. This was completely gratuitous, wrong and unnecessary. There are still over 100,000 American troops fighting in Iraq, and this kind of message will only serve to undermine morale. As President, Obama should have paid tribute to his own soldiers who are putting their lives on the line everyday in a war against Al-Qaeda-backed insurgents. The United States does not need to apologise for removing a brutal dictator from power and liberating over 20 million Muslims from tyranny.
    • Obama did not address the scale of the Iranian threat, or Iran’s support for terrorism, or UN sanctions against Iran. Obama made no mention of the fact Iran is arming, funding and training some of the terrorist groups in southern Iraq responsible for killing American and British troops.
    • The president drew a hugely controversial parallel between Jewish suffering in the Holocaust with the current plight of the Palestinians.
    • Obama used the word “occupation” to describe the Palestinian refugee camps, a term more commonly used by Israel-hating UN or EU officials when attacking Israel.
    • Once again the president brought up the Guantanamo/torture issue in front of an international audience, part of a ritual exercise in self-loathing that has become a hallmark of the Obama administration.
    • Obama did not once use the words “terrorist”, “terrorism” or “Islamist”. When you are waging a global war, you have to identify who you are fighting against – in this case the free world is fighting against Islamist terrorists representing an Islamist extremist ideology.

    President Obama’s feel-good Cairo speech will do little to strengthen America’s position in the Middle East. It is a speech that projects weakness and contrition rather than American leadership – at times the president seemed embarrassed about America’s global power and achievements. Many of Obama’s statements were apologetic in tone, and the speech failed to recognize the huge role the United States has played in freeing tens of millions of Muslims from the Baathists and the Taliban. In fact no country in history has done more to defend Muslims from oppression than America, from Afghanistan to Kosovo to Iraq. The president’s address will only deepen the impression among both America’s enemies and allies that Barack Obama does not have the stomach for a long war against Islamist terrorism, nor the will to stand up to the Iranian nuclear threat. The world needs stronger leadership than this.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to Barack Obama’s Massive Middle East Mea Culpa

    1. J.C. Hughes, Texas says:

      Great commentary Nile. Leftist always see foreign affairs with warm fuzzy blinders. Obama's approach to the the Islamist threat is but a repeat of America's failed Middle Eastern polices prior to 9/11/2001. He's critical of a predecessor who changed the Arab world's view about America from one of contempt to one of respect. Arab hate of the west is a long standing issue that will have to be worked out by and among their own people.

      PS: Documents obtained in post Saddam Hussein's Iraq showed a strong cooperative link between the Bathist regime and al Qaeda. The latter's "weapons of mass destruction" came in the form of a well planned attack using innocent passenger aircraft to massacre thousands of U.S. citizens. The same Americans who traditionally go out of their way to help people in regions such as the Middle East. What more will it take for liberals to understand that a posture of strength, not apologetic weakness, is the only message that works with sadistically destructive Islamist?

    2. April, Colorado says:

      I think that finally we have strong leadership in President Obama. His speech was not an apology. It was what has been missing for the last 8 years…DIPLOMACY.

      Where is all the talk from Republicans about "winning the hearts and minds?"

      How do we fight against Islamic extremists? We get the Islamic moderates (the majority of the Islamic world) who long for equality, democracy and basic human rights to work with us. We make them our allies in our common goal of freedom, prosperity and peace for all of God's children.

      Well done, President Obama!

      Watch the speech. Don't just watch the Fox News commentators.

    3. J.C. Hughes, Texas says:

      April, you've rested my case about wearing warm fuzzy blinders. It's easy to sit there in an armchair listening to baseless feel good rhetoric. What you need is a history lesson in 20th Century Middle Eastern affairs. Speaking of which, it was Saddam's Baathist regime that left documented evidence showing its cooperative affiliation with al Qaeda.

    4. neocons endanger, th says:

      Hey J.C. how about the warm and fuzzy cooperative relationship the US had with Sadaams Baath party in the 80s? Where are your blinders dude regarding "20th century Middle Eastern Affairs"? The Iraq war was an imperialist, opportunist, war for oil…which of course much of the world recognizes.

      Anyway, the commentary in this post is typical of the irrational, anti-intellectual, and dishonest currents of neoconservative thinking. All I can say is thank god (even though I am a proud atheist) that Obama is our president. The macho, American exceptionalist, and blatantly imperialistic tendencies of the utterly disasterous way Bush handled middle eastern affairs requires a tactful, contrite, but strong and serious posture from the current administration, precisely the tone Obama set in Cairo.

    5. Bob, Rabbit Hash, KY says:

      Please show me the evidence that Saddam Hussein's regime had "a cooperative affiliation with al Qaeda." If you can do that then you can lecture others on 20th Century Middle Eastern history.

    6. charles rinehart/Cal says:

      Here's a history lesson everybody should know:

      In 1953, President Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles authorized the CIA to overthrow the elected government of Iran in favor of the Shah, who was in exile in Rome.

      In August of 1953, the CIA sent one of its most intrepid agents, Kermit Roosevelt Jr.(grandson of Theodore Roosevelt) to lead a coup against Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh.

      Kermit bribed newspaper editors,organized riots, all from the safety of the US Embassy.

      On the night of August 19, 1953 an angry crowd led by Roosevelt's Iranian agents-supported by police and military units he had suborned-converged on Mossadegh's home.

      After a two hour siege, Mossadegh fled over a back wall. His house was looted and set afire. The handful of American agents who organized the coup were, as Roosevelt later wrote, "full of jubilation, celebration and occasional and totally unpredictable whacks on the back as one or the other were suddenly overcome with enthusiasm."

      Mossadegh was arrested, tried for high treason, imprisoned for three (3) years, then sentenced to house arrest for life.

      Mossadegh died in 1967.

      The 1953 coup put an end to democratic rule in Iran. The CIA brought Mohammed Reza Shah back from Rome and returned him to the Peacock Throne.

      In gratitude, the Shah ruled through his secret police Savok.

      He tortured opposition figures. No independent institutions-political parties, student groups, labor unions or civic organizations-were tolerated during the Shah's quarter century of power.

      The only place dissidents could find shelter was in mosques, which gave the developing opposition movement a religious tinge that would later push Iran toward fundamentalist rule.

      That is from the magazine Smithsonian, October 2008, pages 60-70.

      I believe, J.C Hughes, that is the history of 20th century Middle Eastern Policy. This culminated in the 1979 Hostage Crisis, which was part of the Iranian Revolution.

      The British exploited Iran for many years, giving them inexpensive oil. The US exploited Iran(by way of the Shah)for inexpensive oil.

      Is there any wonderment as to how the majority of Middle Eastern people view the West?

    7. April, Colorado says:

      J.C. We should have finished our work. We should have continued into hills of Pakistan and "smoked them out of their holes." But, instead, our leadership took us into Iraq. Now, new leadership is forced to go back and finish the job in Pakistan. A lot of money has been spent in Iraq. Saddam Hussein, although a terrible dictator, DID NOT ATTACK US.

      Where is Bin Laden? NOT IN IRAQ!

      Time for America to hold Israel to a standard. We can't allow Israel to concentrate Palestinians into smaller and smaller parcels of land, restrict their movements within their own territory and withhold rations. Talk about warm fuzzy blinders. If we are a country that upholds democracy and human rights, then we must take the lead in bringing Israel and Palestine to a peaceful coexistence. I believe that our actions in this crucial matter will dictate our security. There will be no peace without justice. Let us bring justice.

      With all due respect, what you need is a history lesson in 21st Century Middle Eastern affairs.

    8. Pingback: Rightwing Reactions to Obama’s Cairo Speech « Conservative First

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