Obama Launches His Second Charm Offensive in the Middle East

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…and it’s offensive. Maybe not to those in Cairo and the Muslim universe, maybe not to anti-Americans overseas, maybe not to half the country who thinks like President Barack HUSSEIN (his decision- it’s cool and hip to include, now) Obama, but offensive to myself and fellow conservatives who see danger in a president who doesn’t defend America, but castrates it before the world.


President Barack Obama waves before he delivering a speech in the Grand Hall of Cairo University in Cairo June 4, 2009.
REUTERS/Larry Downing

Transcript and video of the “New Beginning” speech here, speaking at the Grand Hall of Cairo University.

I don’t have time to fisk the entire speech (I’ll leave it to readers to dissect the parts they want to take issue with- or parts they may praise!).

But before I go off to work….

As a student of history,


I know, too, that Islam has always been a part of America’s story. The first nation to recognize my country was Morocco. In signing the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796, our second President John Adams wrote, “The United States has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Muslims.” And since our founding, American Muslims have enriched the United States. They have fought in our wars, served in government, stood for civil rights, started businesses, taught at our Universities, excelled in our sports arenas, won Nobel Prizes, built our tallest building, and lit the Olympic Torch. And when the first Muslim-American was recently elected to Congress, he took the oath to defend our Constitution using the same Holy Koran that one of our Founding Fathers — Thomas Jefferson — kept in his personal library.

I guess President Barack HUSSEIN Obama didn’t study the rest of the story. Since bringing this up in itself would have been undiplomatic; and since it would have provided another opportune fodder to apologize to Muslims for our long history of oppression and tyranny against them…..I have to chalk this one up to historical ignorance.

Let me also address the issue of Iraq. Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world.

President Barack HUSSEIN Obama believes this. But it is a partisan issue that should be debated at home, not conceded abroad beyond America’s shores.

Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein,

Er….so…uh….it was a GOOD choice, then?

This is another example out of many where President Barack HUSSEIN Obama wishes to have it both ways. (Read Peter Wehner’s excellent commentary on Obama employing Aristotle’s golden mean, the search for the midpoint between two extremes. Hat tip: Steve Schippert. David Frum also notes how Obama straddles the line, and positions himself as an intermediary).

I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible. Indeed, we can recall the words of Thomas Jefferson, who said: “I hope that our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be.”

Diplomacy was tried and failed. It didn’t begin under President Bush #43 but under Bush #42, with the original Cease-Fire Agreement which Saddam Hussein violated while the ink was still wet.

Diplomacy was tried and failed under President Clinton, leading him to sign the Iraqi Liberation Act. “Regime change” became official U.S. policy under Bill Clinton, because the Saddam Hussein regime was recognized as irredeemable and diplomacy exhausted.

There was no “rush to war”.

Hitting the reset button on diplomacy each time we have a new Administration only gives rogue regimes like Iran and North Korea and Saddam’s Iraq the gift of time.

And finally, just as America can never tolerate violence by extremists, we must never alter our principles. 9/11 was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change course. I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year.

“unequivocally prohibited the use of torture”?!? Puh-lease….you mean the meaningless window-dressing EO you signed on day two that revoked President Bush’s 2007 EO that basically said the same thing as the new EO, prohibiting torture?

This is not only a slam at the policy decisions of the previous administration, but an insult to our military, CIA, and our country.

We have not “altered our principles” or acted “contrary to our ideals”. The Administration never lashed out at al Qaeda and the Islamic terror network out of “fear and anger”. The course that President Bush and his Administration pursued was one of prevention; on how best to stop the next terror attack, not seek revenge. This is even true of Afghanistan.

Set the record straight on Guantanamo. The men and women who have served at Gitmo deserve better. They deserve recognition for the fine job they have been doing there. It is not a gulag. Explain instead, why Guantanamo should remain open for business:

How about using his political capital with the Muslim world to convince them that Guantanamo is a paradise compared to any other prison/detention facility in the world? How about this: Change the name. Don’t call it “Gitmo”. Change the perception. It’s not a “gulag”. Call it ‘Al muntazah al-dini lilmujaheden al Muslimin,’: “The Religion Resort for Islamic Militants.”

If he can call the “war on Islamic terror” a kinder, gentler PC name (Overseas Contingency Operations) in order to keep prosecuting it without appearing to be perpetuating Bush-era foreign policy, then he can come up with an alternative for Gitmo as well.

For a great article on the perils of political apologies, read Peter Feaver.

Apologies can bring with it, more harm than good when applied incorrectly.

Scott coming away with a different take:
Obama’s Cairo Speech Almost The Same as Bush’s June 2002 Speech, pointing out the need for finding common ground, recognizing Israel’s right to exist and the formation of a Palestinian state, etc.


Marc Thiessen this morning:


Hugh Hewitt:

“The world is the worse for this speech because it was not honest about the situation in the Middle East, not honest about the threat from Iran, not honest about Israel’s deep desire to be allowed to live in peace, and not honest about the determination of Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran to destroy Israel and to gain the weapons necessary to do so in an instant.

“No speech so deeply dishonest in its omissions or so rhetorically misleading its its assumptions and arguments can do anything other than communicate extraordinary weakness on the part of the United States. It will indeed be a famous speech, for all the wrong reasons.”

Others blogging:
Mike’s post
Confederate Yankee
The New Editor
Bookworm Room
The Anchoress
Ed Morrisey
Michelle Malkin
Gateway Pundit
Bottomline Upfront
Peter Feaver
Thomas Ricks

18 Responses to “Obama Launches His Second Charm Offensive in the Middle East”

  1. 2

    Scott Malensek

    Does this sound like Obama’s speech?

    Moral truth is the same in every culture, in every time, and in every place. Targeting innocent civilians for murder is always and everywhere wrong. (Applause.) Brutality against women is always and everywhere wrong. (Applause.) There can be no neutrality between justice and cruelty, between the innocent and the guilty. We are in a conflict between good and evil, and America will call evil by its name. (Applause.) By confronting evil and lawless regimes, we do not create a problem, we reveal a problem. And we will lead the world in opposing it. (Applause.)

    As we defend the peace, we also have an historic opportunity to preserve the peace. We have our best chance since the rise of the nation state in the 17th century to build a world where the great powers compete in peace instead of prepare for war. The history of the last century, in particular, was dominated by a series of destructive national rivalries that left battlefields and graveyards across the Earth. Germany fought France, the Axis fought the Allies, and then the East fought the West, in proxy wars and tense standoffs, against a backdrop of nuclear Armageddon.

    Competition between great nations is inevitable, but armed conflict in our world is not. More and more, civilized nations find ourselves on the same side — united by common dangers of terrorist violence and chaos. America has, and intends to keep, military strengths beyond challenge — (applause) — thereby, making the destabilizing arms races of other eras pointless, and limiting rivalries to trade and other pursuits of peace.

    Today the great powers are also increasingly united by common values, instead of divided by conflicting ideologies.

    -Pres Bush Westpoint Graduation 2002

  2. 3



    I agree with some of the “fluff” comparisons. All political speeches exercise the language of diplomacy and saying what will hold appeal to the audience. But there’s a moral equivalency in President Obama’s speech that I think is absent in President Bush’s.

    We are in a conflict between good and evil, and America will call evil by its name. (Applause.) By confronting evil and lawless regimes, we do not create a problem, we reveal a problem.

    Bush’s language…..too black and white.

    Obama: apologist.

  3. 4

    Ken Schoentag

    It really is sad that we elected this man. A man without any real world experience in any area other than progressive politics. He can turn a phrase and give a rousing speech but he can’t get historical facts right and he has a vision of this country that is truly scary. The mass media in this country force fed Obama to the American pubic and like good little lemmings the majority bought his act. Maybe people will wake up and realize that his view for America will fundamentally change this country and we may not be able to repair the damage he and his ilk will do. I hope that happens but as long as the majority of Americans fail to know our history and rely on biased reporting then that hope is indeed slim. Obama never fails to take partison shots and he did again in this speech. I am sure that the media will tout this speech as a great speech and they will heap praise upon “the one” but what will this accomplish in the long run. I am sure Israel will now just fall in line and peace will break out in that part of the world. In the real world the bonds between Israel and the US have been strained and they may fray even further but hey he knows what is best for Israel. Iran was quick to respond to this speech and I am sure their proxies will speak up as well.

  4. 5



    There’s also this difference in regards to the role of Hamas:


    Every nation actually committed to peace will stop the flow of money, equipment and recruits to terrorist groups seeking the destruction of Israel – including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hizbullah.


    The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people. Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have responsibilities. To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, and to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, and recognize Israel’s right to exist.

  5. 7



    Only difference is this time…
    [wide eyes of awe ON] it’s Barack! [wide eyes of awe OFF]

    The perception that President Bush has not reached out to Muslims is preposterous.

    He cautioned Americans right after 9/11 to not lash out unjustly and out of bigotry toward the religion of Islam. A week after 9/11, he was praying in a mosque; Ramadan 2002 saw the first-ever iftar in the White House. To the consternation of Islamophobes, President Bush reached out to the Muslim community and insisted that Islam is a religion of peace.

    But you’re right: The difference now is that Obama is saying it.

  6. 8


    Outstanding coverage by the FA hosts, thanks!

    I thought my husband was going to throw a shoe at the television this morning because of the Iraq remarks written into the speech by…..? as the smartest president in the world couldn’t really be so ignorant to trot over to the ME and show such a lack of concern or appreciation for what our country has done for that area of the world and for muslems. Playing USA politics with that tinderbox, just dumb.

    Marc Thiessen isn’t the only one noticing the lack of specifics in the speech and it appears that some in the area listened only to what they wanted to hear in regards to Israel. Others, not too impressed, couple of reviews IMO are assuming they will be getting something out of the big O so they gave him a big wet sloppy one.

    Round the world reviews:


  7. 10



    New granddaughter, 10 days in Colorado, one week home, two weeks in MO and now my Colorado kids are visiting here, tomorrow, back to MO til Monday. Can’t wait to get back to normal, missed all of you too!

  8. 11



    Congratulations, Missy!

    Hitting the reset button on diplomacy each time we have a new Administration only gives rogue regimes like Iran and North Korea and Saddam’s Iraq the gift of time.

    Reminds me of an interesting observation that Saddam Hussein made, as relayed by his interrogator, George Piro:

    “He couldn’t understand why we would re-elect our president every four years. In his opinion, it takes years to really understand the job and to be able to do it effectively. So every four years he was joking that he’d have to break in a new president,”

  9. 12



    Threw in another link in the post- an excellent piece by Peter Wehner:

    The Not So Golden Mean
    Peter Wehner Web Exclusive

    The best way to view President Obama’s speech in Cairo is to understand the way Obama views himself and the rhetorical devices he employs. In this case, the key to unlocking Obama’s speech may be Aristotle’s golden mean, the search for a mid-point between extremes. Obama’s rhetorical template is an increasingly familiar one: he gives voice to one side of a dispute and then the other. And Obama — our philosopher-king, the Voice of Reason in an unreasonable world — interprets and arbitrates these disputes, putting them in just the right context and arriving at just the right solution. Or so we are led to believe. The trouble is that Obama’s approach at times distorts history and mistreats our closest allies.

    The President’s Cairo speech begins with a discussion of tension between the United States and Muslims around the world — “tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate.” Each side holds responsibility for those tensions. But if you read Obama’s text carefully, you will come away with the impression that one side in particular — the United States and the West — is much more at fault than the other. Tensions have been fed, according to Obama, by Western colonialism, the mistreatment of Muslim-majority countries during the Cold War, and by” the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization [which] led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.” Those missteps and injustices, Obama implies, all tilt the scales against America and the West.

    On the other side of the scale there are mistakes for which the Muslim world is responsible. And here the blame lies with “violent extremists” who have exploited those (Western-created) tensions in “a small but potent minority of Muslims.” This led to the attacks on September 11, 2001 and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians. But even that eventually counts against America, at least in this respect: militant Islamic attacks “led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights. This has bred more fear and mistrust.”

    Obama’s second “golden mean” section of the speech had to do with the United States and Iran. Obama presents the two nations as equally at fault for the current pass. In the middle of the Cold War, Obama tells us, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically-elected Iranian government. And since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians. “Rather than remain trapped in the past,” he says, “I have made it clear to Iran’s leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward… without preconditions on the basis of mutual respect.”

    Obama’s speech’s third “golden mean” section has to do with Afghanistan and Iraq. Afghanistan is the good war. It deserves our support, and it will have it. Iraq, on the other hand, was the “war of choice” — one that Obama opposed, one that caused friction within America and between America and the world, and one that symbolizes a failure of diplomacy. The Iraqi people may be better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, Obama admits, and we do have a responsibility to help Iraq forge a better future — but the clear message of the speech is that Obama found the war unnecessary and distasteful and he is eager to wash his, and America’s, hands of it, as much and as soon as possible.

    Obama’s fourth “golden mean” deals with Israel and the Palestinians. In this section, Israel is portrayed as home to a historically persecuted people. Threatening Israel with destruction is “deeply wrong” and only serves to “evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.” At the same time, “it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people — Muslims and Christians — have suffered in pursuit of a homeland.” The situation for the Palestinian people is “intolerable.” America “will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.” The result is a “stalemate”; both sides have “legitimate aspirations” but also suffer from “a painful history that makes compromise elusive.” We cannot see this conflict “only from one side or the other” because that will “be blind to the truth.” And it is time to act on what everyone knows to be true: Israel will not go away and the Palestinians need a state. To that end, Palestinians must abandon violence. “Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed,” Obama said. “It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus,” he went on.

    Israelis, on the other hand,

    must acknowledge that just as Israel ‘s right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine ‘s. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop. Israel must also live up to its obligations to ensure that Palestinians can live, and work, and develop their society. And just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel ‘s security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank . Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.

    Among the problems with Obama’s speech is that in order to make his narrative fit, he must manipulate history, sometimes subtly and sometimes not, sometimes by what he omits and sometimes by what he states. Let’s take things in order.

    In his discussion of the West and the Muslim world, President Obama fails to mention how, in the past two decades, the United States has shed blood and treasure in Kuwait, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq — all Muslim-dominated countries — in an effort to aid tens of millions of people who were threatened by or living under ruthless dictatorships. The impulse to help these countries was not in every instance simply humanitarian; but in every instance humanitarianism was a factor, and in some instances it was the dominant one. Today, more than 50 million Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq are liberated from two of the most sadistic regimes we have ever witnessed. It might be nice for President Obama — and frankly those in the Arab world — to say that, even just once.

    Nor does Obama mention other efforts to help Muslims — for example, the extraordinary humanitarian efforts by Americans to aid Indonesia in the aftermath of the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

    In addition, Obama’s account of the resentment that exists, and in some instances dominates, the Islamic world today is shallow and misleading. For example, he does not connect the political and economic repression in the Arab world to the rise of jihadism. Arab intellectuals themselves have recognized these failures, calling on Arab governments to address the “freedom gap” and push for internal reform, greater politics participation, and economic openness. And to imply that the West has been a key accelerator when it comes to radical Islam is simply wrong. I realize Obama has no obligation to devote a speech to problems plaguing the Arab and Islamic worlds; but he does have an obligation to provide a fair account of things if he chooses to raise the topic.

    As for his discussion of America and Iran, Max Boot puts it well. Obama’s account

    is accepting the (false) narrative of the Iranian Revolution, which holds that America’s role in overthrowing Mossadeq more than half a century ago — a development that would not have been possible had the leftist prime minister not lost support in the Iranian street — is just as bad as the campaign of mass murder and kidnapping that Iran continues to support at this very moment.

    On Afghanistan and Iraq: while I appreciate what Obama says about the former, his portrayal of Iraq is distorted. Of all the countries in the Arab/Persian world, Iraq is among the closest to fulfilling the principles Obama praises in his speech, including democracy and human rights, religious freedom, freedom for women, progress and modernity. Iraq certainly isn’t perfect, and in some respects it has many miles to travel. But its government is, as even Obama had to concede, democratically elected. And it is certainly on a more enlightened path than, say, Iran or even Egypt, for whom Obama had nothing but praise. Yet instead of celebrating the achievements in Iraq — which have been extraordinary, even as it remains an imperfect and fragile nation — Obama focused mostly on the negative. It is clear that long ago Obama settled on a (negative) view of Iraq. While events have thankfully forced him to back away from his previously (irresponsible) position, he still cannot see it for what it is.

    Then there is the issue of Israel and the Palestinians. What is troubling about Obama’s account is the moral equivalence he asserts between Israel and the Palestinians is false. It also ignores what Israel is: democratic and lawful, willing to grant rights to its Arab citizens, willing to hold itself accountable for its mistakes, a country of bustling energy, entrepreneurial spirit, and a thriving civil society. Israel is among the most admirable and impressive nations in the world, and that we have ever seen. And all of this despite living in a region that for the most part despises her and in some instances wants to destroy her.

    Beyond that, Obama perpetuates falsehoods, including the one that Israelis deny the Palestinian right to exist just as Palestinians deny Israel’s right to exist. That is true only in rare cases, and in any event it fails to take into account Israel’s many good-faith efforts to give the Palestinians a homeland, including in 2000, when Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered almost all of the territories the Palestinians had asked for. Yasir Arafat rejected the offer and began a second intifada. And in Gaza in 2005 Israel did what no other nation — not the Jordanians, not the British, not anyone — has ever done before: provide the Palestinians with the opportunity for self-rule. In response, Israel was shelled by thousands of rockets and mortar attacks. Hamas used Gaza as its launching point. Yet it is Israel , according to Obama, that must make yet more concessions and give up yet more land, as if stopping settlements will fundamentally transform Palestinian attitudes. It will not. The sine qua non for progress is for the Palestinian leadership to make its own inner peace with the Jewish state. If it did, as Jordan has, a Palestinian homeland would surely follow; and if it does not, peace is impossible. Israel has already shown it can make peace with Arab countries and give up huge swaths of land (like the Sinai Desert) if only those nations reconcile themselves to the existence of Israel and cast aside their violent animus toward her.

    The suffering of the Palestinian people is real and tragic and needs to end. But the source of that suffering lies with a corrupt leadership and the complicity of other Arab nations. To cast all the blame on Israel is deeply unfair.

    President Obama, in his speech to the Muslim world, said he would “speak the truth as best I can.” Some of what he said about democracy, religious freedom, women’s rights, and economic development and opportunity was sound and appropriate. And I will concede, as others have, that it could have been worse — though that’s a fairly low bar to clear. But a good deal of what Obama presented, particularly in the first half of the speech, was a cartoon version of history. In the process, Obama downplayed the achievements of the Arab country we have very strong relations with and placed the most intense pressure on the nation that counts among our closest allies and best friends. I have little doubt that Obama’s speech will be hailed by the Muslim world and by the chattering class. But it was, in some important respects, a misleading address, and therefore a regrettable one. The things Obama will win from the speech will be, I think, ephemeral; the distortions of history and reality more enduring. It is not, I think it’s fair to say, the balance Aristotle had in mind.

    And David Frum on how Obama positions himself as an intermediary.

  10. 13



    Read this instead of eating breakfast, very good find.

    There was much wrong with that speech— his inaccurate historical cites, providing lame excuses for the behavior of Iran and the Palestinians, setting up a straw dog in the case of 911. We don’t hate or fear Islam for what happened nor did we attack a religion, we went after the terrorists that were responsible for terror attacks that happened to be Islamic. Who terrorized and murdered the Iraqis and Afghans? Terrorists or Islam?

    Also, I got the impression that he basically wants this country and Israel to tie their’s and our hands behind our backs and say “go ahead.”

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