January 27, 2009

Oh Just Impeach Him Already

Get out your Kool Aid and pointy tinfoil hats. President Obama said nice things about Muslims, and refuses to engage in rhetoric suggesting that Islam is a virulent threat to all normalcy, moral goodness, and civilization itself. Indeed, he gave his first Presidential interview today to an Arabic news network, and look what he said!
THE PRESIDENT: Now, my job is to communicate the fact that the United States has a stake in the well-being of the Muslim world, that the language we use has to be a language of respect. I have Muslim members of my family. I have lived in Muslim countries.

AL-ARABYIA TV:The largest one.

THE PRESIDENT: The largest one, Indonesia. And so what I want to communicate is the fact that in all my travels throughout the Muslim world, what I've come to understand is that regardless of your faith -- and America is a country of Muslims, Jews, Christians, non-believers -- regardless of your faith, people all have certain common hopes and common dreams. And my job 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. My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy.
I can hear the gasps of fright from the Gates of Vienna even now. This is practically treason! Aid and comfort to the enemy!

Okay, let's cut the sarcasm for a minute. This is a good move, diplomatically. The Islamo-whackjobs have been doing everything in their power to say that Obama is just as bad as Bush, that America is still the enemy, that the missile attack done on his watch targetting al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan proves that nothing has changed. They have to, because without an enemy to rail against, they really have very little to offer politically.

And Obama is simply not George Bush. He's clearly a man of the world, a man who understands that people have different ideas and perspectives and one who takes an active interest in listening as well as lecturing. American foreign policy will be different and the whole world knows it. Not radically different -- we're still going to align with Europe and Israel and Japan and Australia; we're still going to prefer diplomatic and trading partners who have democratically-elected government; we're still going to protect our significant economic interests overseas. But we're also not going to call our foreign adventures "crusades." We're not going to make enemies out of people because of their religion or talk seriously about nuking Mecca. We don't have a leader who sees things through the lens of messianic Christian faith or one hell-bent on launching wars of conquest regardless of the evidence.

If anything, our risk is that we may be too gentle rather than, as we've been for the past several years, too rough with the rest of the world.

And this has to have set a deep despondency on the lives of the guys whose job it is to recruit hopeless young religious fanatics to strap dynamite to their chest and blow themselves up. Sure, they still have the Jews and Israel to demonize, but with an America under Obama's leadership, it's much harder to paint us as bullies and thugs ourselves. When Obama says he will be respectful of Muslim traditions and Muslim nations, you get the feeling he's being sincere. Bush never quite conveyed sincerity when he said those words. And that sense of sincerity, a genuine desire for respect, is something that (I hope) is disseminating throughout the globe.

In that sense, while I have great doubts about his domestic agenda, I have to admit that President Obama represents a nice improvement to the face we present to the rest of the world.

And to the Kool Aid Drinkers who would have written those first few paragraphs of this post with sincerity (where I wrote them with irony) remember that if we go picking fights, we're going to get them. Our enemies will choose us, but that doesn't mean we have to reciprocate.

1 comment:

Yogi said...

Don't forget that the POTUS has far more power in international affairs than in domestic. So this is very good work. Domestically, he'll be fighting uphill battles for years, asking for way more than Congress will give him. Overseas, he can push pretty hard.