Jeff Jacoby sees Obama’s outreach to the Islamic world as the mirror image of Carter’s naive and ultimately disastrous outreach to the Soviet Union.
“Obama’s charm offensive and the global jihad,” by Jeff Jacoby for the Boston Globe, February 4 (thanks to all who sent this in):
EARLY IN HIS presidency, Jimmy Carter set about to a letter US policy toward the Soviet Union. Six days after his inauguration he sent a letter to Soviet ruler Leonid Brezhnev, hailing the two countries’ “common efforts towards formation of a more peaceful, just, and humane world” and saluting Brezhnev’s supposed “aspiration for strengthening and preserving. . . peace.” In a commencement address at Notre Dame, he declared that Americans had shed their “inordinate fear of communism.” In the months that followed, Carter slashed the defense budget, scrapped the B-1 bomber, welcomed the Sandinista coup in Nicaragua, and launched diplomatic relations with Cuba’s dictator, Fidel Castro.
It wasn’t until the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979 that Carter finally woke up to his naivetÃ©. Moscow’s brutal aggression “made a more dramatic change in my opinion of what the Soviets’ ultimate goals are,” he admitted, “than anything they’ve done in the previous time that I’ve been in office.”
Carter’s failure to understand the threat posed by the Soviet Empire had costly consequences for America and the world. Will that pattern now be repeated with Barack Obama and the threat from radical Islam?
Ever since taking office two weeks ago, Obama has been at pains to proclaim a change in US-Muslim relations. In his inaugural address he invited “the Muslim world” to embark on “a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.” Six days later he gave Al-Arabiya, an Arabic-language satellite channel, his first televised interview as president. This week he continued his charm offensive with a friendly letter to the Organization of the Islamic Conference. He has promised to deliver a major address in an Islamic capital by spring.
The president cannot be faulted for using his bully pulpit to reach out to the world’s Muslims, especially given his Muslim roots and family ties. But running through his words is a disconcerting theme: that US-Muslim tensions are a recent phenomenon brought on largely by American provincialism, heavy-handedness, and disrespect. Missing is any sense that the United States has long been the target of jihadist fanatics who enjoy widespread support in the Muslim world….
Read it all.