Things that go bump in the road
Jaws dropped across America as President Barack Obama described the Americans dead in Libya as mere “bumps in the road” during his 60 Minutes interview on Sunday night:
Asked about his support for “the governments that have come to power since the Arab Spring,” Obama replied, “Well, I’d said even at the time that this is going to be a rocky path. The question presumes that somehow we could have stopped this wave of change. I think it was absolutely the right thing for us to do to align ourselves with democracy, universal rights: a notion that people have to be able to participate in their own governance. But I was pretty certain, and continue to be pretty certain, that there are going to be bumps in the road because… you know, in a lot of these places, the one organizing principle has been Islam… the one part of society that hasn’t been controlled completely by the government.”
“There are strains of extremism, and anti-Americanism, and anti-Western sentiment,” the President continued. “And you know can be tapped into by demagogues. There will probably be some times where we bump up against some of these countries and have strong disagreements, but I do think that over the long term, we are more likely to get a Middle East and North Africa that is more peaceful, more prosperous and more aligned with our interests.”
(Emphases mine.) There’s so much wrong with this that it’s difficult to know where to start, but the extremely unfortunate choice of “bumps in the road” to describe the events of September 11, 2012, and the following week is simply amazing. This is supposed to be the greatest orator in history? Mitt Romney’s supposed to be the one dropping “gaffes” all over the place?
Leaving his word choices aside, what Obama is saying here is that he’s a mere spectator to history, powerless to stop a wave of change sweeping the Arab world, but his wondrous “lead from behind” foreign policy will leave us well-situated as friends of the new Middle East in the future, once we complete our journey down this rocky and bumpy road.
Does anyone think Obama’s world-view bears the slightest resemblance to what we’re actually seeing in the Middle East, after years of his foreign policy? He didn’t just sit back and watch a wave of unstoppable change roll over the Arab world. He actively campaigned to get rid of Hosni Mubarak, and he violated the War Powers Act to launch the kind of unilateral military strike on Libya that used to give liberals the vapors.
And Obama is actively throwing away our most important relationship in the Middle East, our close ties to Israel, in order to curry favor with Arab nations. In the same 60 Minutes interview, Obama dismissed pressure from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “noise” that he tries to “block out” – presumably using such techniques as going on The View instead of meeting with Netanyahu.
He also described Israel as “one of our closest allies in the region.” One of? Who’s closer? It can’t be Egypt, because just the other day Obama was musing that Egypt wasn’t really an ally at all, until Jimmy Carter stepped in to correct him.
The Administration’s preferred narrative about the current wave of unrest is sharply at variance with Obama’s imagery of bumpy roads leading to happy destinations. We’re not having raucous disagreements with a couple of basically friendly Arab governments. We’re watching unrest among large populations, reaching all the way into Muslim communities in Europe. This is all supposedly due to a YouTube video – remember, that’s the official narrative from the Obama Administration, pushed so assiduously that it was even presented as the excuse for the terrorist attack in Libya, where it doesn’t appear there was actually an “Innocence of Muslims” protest at all.
In order to placate these unhappy populations, the Administration has gotten noticeably soft about defending the First Amendment right to free speech, when it conflicts with Islamic law. The government of the world’s declining hyper-power has felt it necessary to loudly distance themselves from a video they had absolutely nothing to do with creating. They spent $70,000 buying airtime on Pakistani TV to run footage of Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denouncing this video. Not a single official statement concerning the past week of riots has been issued without some statement of sympathy for the injured religious pride of the rioters, and harsh words about the video they’re ostensibly protesting. And the Administration has been putting on a big kabuki show about hassling, and possibly arresting, the creators of the “Innocence of Muslims” video.
That’s not a minor little bump on the road to “a Middle East and North Africa that is more peaceful, more prosperous and more aligned with our interests.” The Administration’s own statements depict a clash of civilizations, in which ours is expected to make certain concessions to theirs. These are the consequences of Obama’s foreign policy of apologies, weakness, and willingness to sacrifice America’s allies. They’re not rocky patches encountered on the journey to a better world. They are the destination.