You can watch the al-Arabiya interview here
Dr Krauthammer: Outreach, Yes. Apology, No.
We’ve Never Been Islam’s Enemy
“My job,” says Obama, “is to communicate to the American people that the Muslim world is filled with extraordinary people who simply want to live their lives and see their children live better lives.” That’s his job? Do the American people think otherwise? Does he think he is bravely breaking new ground? George Bush, Condoleezza Rice and countless other leaders offered myriad expressions of that same universalist sentiment.
Every president has the right to portray himself as ushering in a new era of this or that. Obama wants to pursue new ties with Muslim nations, drawing on his own identity and associations. Good. But when his self-inflation as redeemer of U.S.-Muslim relations leads him to suggest that pre-Obama America was disrespectful or insensitive or uncaring of Muslims, he is engaging not just in fiction but in gratuitous disparagement of the country he is now privileged to lead.
Iran has already responded to the Obama overture. In perfect tune with Obama’s defensiveness, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared that better relations might be possible — after America apologized for 60 years of crimes against Iran. Note the 60 years. The mullahs are as mystified by Obama’s pre-1979 (or 1989) good old days as I am.
Last Tuesday Victor Davis Hanson wrote about Dancing Among Landmines—The Obama Al-Arabiya Interview
At some point, soaring rhetoric makes banality the harder to accept. For all the talking about path- breaking new/old envoy George Mitchell, and the new President’s background, and the novel sensitivity, Obama offered nothing new on the Middle East and Iran, because (1) there is very little new to be offered; and (2) George Bush, apart from the caricatures, was by 2004 about as multilateral as one can be; consider the Quartet, the EU3, the UN efforts at international disarmament with Iran, the use of NATO forces in Afghanistan, the Coalition in Iraq, the efforts to promote constitutional government in the Middle East, and on and on.
There is a danger here that Obama’s hope and change on the Middle East will start to resemble his hope and change on new governance in Washington: utopian promises about absolutely new ethics, followed by the same old, same old as exemplified by the ethical problems encountered by Geithner, Holder, Lynn, Richardson—and by extension Blago, Dodd, Frank, and Rangel. Again, saintly rhetoric only highlights earthly behavior.
I am glad Obama confounds the radical and hostile Islamic world, if it is in fact true that he does. But we are witnessing a delicate balancing act in which he seems to be saying to us “I am best representing you by distancing myself from you and your past”.
Stop apologizing to the Muslim world. Utopian promises won’t convince anyone, and infantile apologies will only enbolden our enemies.