Every new president flatters himself that he, kinder and gentler, is beginning the world anew. Yet, when Barack Obama in his inaugural address reached out to Muslims with “to the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect,” his formulation was needlessly defensive and apologetic.
Is it “new” to acknowledge Muslim interests and show respect to the Muslim world? Obama doesn't just think so, he said so again to millions in his al-Arabiya interview, insisting on the need to “restore” the “same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago.”
Astonishing. In these most recent 20 years – the alleged winter of our disrespect of the Islamic world – America did not just respect Muslims, it bled for them. It engaged in five military campaigns, every one of which involved – and resulted in – the liberation of a Muslim people: Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.
The two Balkan interventions – as well as the failed 1992-93 Somali intervention to feed starving African Muslims (43 Americans were killed) – were humanitarian exercises of the highest order, there being no significant U.S. strategic interest at stake. In these 20 years, this nation has done more for suffering and oppressed Muslims than any nation, Muslim or non-Muslim, anywhere on Earth. Why are we apologizing?
And what of that happy U.S.-Muslim relationship that Obama imagines existed “as recently as 20 or 30 years ago” that he has now come to restore? Thirty years ago, 1979, saw the greatest U.S.-Muslim rupture in our 233-year history: Iran's radical Islamic revolution, the seizure of the U.S. Embassy, the 14 months of America held hostage.
Which came just a few years after the Arab oil embargo that sent the United States into a long and punishing recession. Which, in turn, was preceded by the kidnapping and cold-blooded execution by Arab terrorists of the U.S. ambassador in Sudan and his charge d'affaires.
This is to say nothing of the Marine barracks massacre of 1983, and the innumerable attacks on U.S. embassies and installations around the world during what Obama now characterizes as the halcyon days of U.S.-Islamic relations.
Look. If Barack Obama wants to say, as he said to al-Arabiya, I have Muslim roots, Muslim family members, have lived in a Muslim country – implying a special affinity that uniquely positions him to establish good relations – that's fine. But it is both false and deeply injurious to this country to draw a historical line dividing America under Obama from a benighted past when Islam was supposedly disrespected and demonized.
As in Obama's grand admonition: “We cannot paint with a broad brush a faith as a consequence of the violence that is done in that faith's name.” Have “we” been doing that, smearing Islam because of a small minority? George Bush went to the Islamic Center in Washington six days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks when the fires of ground zero were still smoldering, to declare “Islam is peace,” to extend fellowship and friendship to Muslims, to insist that Americans treat them with respect and generosity of spirit.....
More on success in Iraq
You'd never know it from listening to the lamestream media this weekend, but Iraqis went to the polls in nationwide provincial elections. Turnout was strong, and there was not a single major act of violence.
The early returns show a repudiation of the Islamist and other religious parties which had been in large part dominated by Iran. Secular parties, and in particular, the party of the current Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, appear to have gained position. This is a huge step toward a secular, stable representative democracy in Iraq.
"I just voted and I'm very happy," said one Iraqi man.
"I want the political leaders to listen to us. I think this will begin the change," said another.
"A great day," said yet another.
The BBC reported that there was "a holiday atmosphere" among voters walking to the polling places.
A female Baghdad medical student said, "People here are so excited by the feeling that their vote can make a difference."
Exhilaration over voting? Excitement? A holiday atmosphere?
The media, invested for years in the narrative that Iraq was a failure, only begrudgingly reported any of this, and made sure to counter it with erroneous reports about light turnout and confusing voting procedures.
Iraq had more effective and efficient candidate selection than we did.
We should have Iraqi election monitors watching us during our next elections. They ran a better show than we did.
Most disgracefully, our new president -- a man who would run over his grandmother to get in front of a camera -- could only manage a lame written statement "congratulating" the Iraqi people on holding elections. He's got no problem holding press conferences about such pressing issues as the choice of White House puppy. But a presser on the landmark Iraq elections? Why, that's a bridge too far.
President Bush stuck with Iraq. Against all political pressure and advice to the contrary, he went ahead with the surge and allowed the generals and the troops the latitude to see the engagement to victory. In the process, he liberated 28 million people from tyranny's grip and gave them a shot at freedom.
Something tells me there was a "holiday atmosphere" at the former president's Texas home this weekend.
Bush was right. Again.