In this week’s Human Events column, I explain that Obama misunderstands the true nature and dimensions of the jihad threat — as did his predecessor.
“My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy.” So said Barack Obama in his first interview as President, which, in a highly significant symbolic move, he gave to the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya network.
For the new president, it amounted to little better than a preemptive surrender to jihadist ideology.
Obama emphasized what he perceived as a break with the past in relaying the instructions he gave to his personal envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell: “What I told him is start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating — in the past on some of these issues — and we don’t always know all the factors that are involved.”
Yet Obama himself has not thus far demonstrated any awareness of — to take just one of many available examples — the fact that one of the foremost Islamic groups in the world, the Muslim Brotherhood, is dedicated in its own words to “a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion” — Islam — “is made victorious over all other religions.”
Does Obama think this imperative was caused by the United States being dictatorial and ignorant? Does he believe it will be turned aside by some judicious listening by George Mitchell? Will Obama himself listen to anyone who will tell him about the deep roots that jihadist aggression and Islamic supremacism have within Islamic theology, law, and history? Or will he continue to assume that the conflict between the Islamic world and the West is all the West’s fault?
Blaming the West looks more likely at this point, given the moral equivalence he indulged in during the interview, when of the Israel/Palestinian conflict he declared: “I do believe that the moment is ripe for both sides to realize that the path that they are on is one that is not going to result in prosperity and security for their people. And that instead, it’s time to return to the negotiating table.”
Both sides need to realize that? And what exactly is Israel doing that isn’t “going to result in prosperity and security” for its people? Withdrawing from Gaza? Dismantling settlements in disputed areas? Or maybe not allowing rockets from Gaza to be lobbed indiscriminately at Israeli civilians?
Here again Obama makes the very common assumption that that the top priority for both sides is security prosperity and security for its people. Has he considered the possibility that the majority of Palestinians would prefer to see Israel destroyed — which continues to be the declared intention of the jihad terrorist organization Hamas — than to secure prosperity and security? Isn’t there an abundance of evidence for that? There is the election of Hamas itself. And don’t forget the destruction of the greenhouses in Gaza that Mort Zuckerman and others paid $14 million to give to the Gazans, and their use not as businesses but as arrival points of weapons smuggling tunnels.
Obama’s misapprehension here stems once again from his failure to take into account that the jihadists may have beliefs of their own that lead them to hate us — beliefs that are independent of anything the U.S. is doing or has the power to change. Yet he seemed to demonstrate some awareness of the unifying belief system and ideology of the jihadists when he said: “I do think that it is impossible for us to think only in terms of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and not think in terms of what’s happening with Syria or Iran or Lebanon or Afghanistan and Pakistan. These things are interrelated. And what I”ve said, and I think Hillary Clinton has expressed this in her confirmation, is that if we are looking at the region as a whole and communicating a message to the Arab world and the Muslim world, that we are ready to initiate a new partnership based on mutual respect and mutual interest, then I think that we can make significant progress.”
These conflict areas are indeed interrelated, but not in the way Obama thinks. They are interrelated because of the jihad doctrine. And in repeating a line from his inaugural speech about the need to restore “mutual respect,” Obama again implies that the respect has only been lacking on the American side. The U.S. has been showering money on Pakistan for years, and Pakistan has been taking it and then aiding the jihad terrorists it was supposed to be fighting. Who’s disrespecting whom?
Obama revealed yet another misapprehension in speaking of the jihadists themselves, when he said that “their ideas are bankrupt. There’s no actions that they”ve taken that say a child in the Muslim world is getting a better education because of them, or has better health care because of them.”
The President seems to be banking everything on the notion that the ideas that bring one the most material prosperity are the ideas that everyone in every case will choose. Unfortunately for him (and us), this isn’t always the case. The followers of Osama bin Laden and the rest have other goals, other priorities — ones that no amount of American largesse will make waver.
But apparently much more of that largesse will have to be showered upon the Islamic world before this home truth begins to dawn upon our supremely confident new President.