When President Obama speaks to the Muslim world on June 4th in Egypt, will he continue his apologetic, meek and subservient rhetoric that have characterized his previous speeches on foreign soil? All indications are that he will seek the moderate Muslim’s full approval of the United States’ pending complete departure from Iraq. No doubt, he will express his sorrow that we ever went in there in the first place and he will assure his hosts that it wasn’t an idea he ever supported.
However, there appears to be a problem with issuing such an absolute statement about all American forces bailing out on the Obama “deadline” of June 30th. His top military commander in Iraq, General Odierno, has said as recently as last week that at least one-fifth of our total force of approximately 140,000 troops will not leave anywhere near that date, and may be in Iraq for another ten years. The reason for that is simple: the recent suicide attacks there have increased as the insurgent’s sense that the removal of U.S. protection will leave the Iraqi population vulnerable, and they are acting on it. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal-al-Maliki is now backing off his insistence that we get out quickly as he sees that his own forces may be inadequate to the task of protection. General Odierno is quoted as saying that combat troops could leave an Iraqi city one day but then be asked by the Iraqis to return on the next.
Such is the dilemma faced by an American President who makes unilateral statements and then has to back off as circumstances force even him to accept a different reality.
But President Obama has more he wants to convey to the Muslims. He wants to assure them that we are not at war with their faith, that we need their help to control the more radical elements within their religious fold.
That part of the equation should be easy for Obama to achieve given the fact that he himself certainly appears to be a “moderate” Muslim, no matter what he publically professes, and, according to Gallup, only about 6% of the polled Egyptians approved of the American intervention into the late Saddam Hussein’s country in any case, while even fewer approved at all of the Bush-Cheney Administration.
So team Obama has set up the President’s talk in Egypt to receive the expected accolades of an approving multitude. However, obviously, there is a divide in the Muslim world between the moderate elements and the more radical factions. These factions divide roughly on sect lines between the more passive Sunnis and the more active and angry Shiites. The President is seeking to align himself and America with the moderates and to seek their support and their understanding of the need to quiet Iran’s leaders, especially, in their frantic push to develop nuclear weapons. He also believes that he needs their support in the current American campaigns against Muslim terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
His hope is that the June elections in Iran will force out Ahmadinejab and bring in a more moderate government. Yet the last word in Iran is known to be in the hands of the Mullahs and where they stand is not always so easy to see, but it is obvious they continue to be up to no good and are gleeful about acquiring the nuclear power that will put them into the exclusive club of those with the power to destroy on a mega-scale.
The trouble for America and the free world is that time is running out for adequately responding to the repressive and fanatical desires of radical Islam as they rush to build the mechanisms for the total destruction of those people and countries they don’t like, such as, particularly, Israel and America.
And what will Obama say in Egypt about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? If he continues to criticize Israel, our top ally in the mid-East, he risks isolating them to such a degree that they will have little choice but to go it alone and most likely violently against the Iranian nation that has threatened through its leaders to annihilate them. If he endorses Palestine’s right to statehood, will he be able also to disavow the militant Hamas?
President Obama wants desperately to reach out to those he feels have been paid scant attention by previous U.S. administrations. He wants to keep his campaign promise of a major speech in a Muslim country within the first few months of his administration. He seeks to extend an olive branch of friendship to Muslim moderates so that they will assist him in keeping the world peace and keeping America safe.
Right now, we are really the only real super-power in the world and when directly challenged by nations that talk of our own and our allies “total destruction,” one wonders whether it really matters if we have the world’s approval to directly respond to such threats immediately, and whether it matters if anyone or any religious group or even another country decides to approve or disapprove of our actions? Pointedly, it should be clear that we do not need such approval or the winning of a popularity contest to do what we need to do to insure our own survival and those of our allies. We are the “daddy” and it is high time we acted like it.
It is also questionable if we should continue to seek the “help” of other governments in attempting to restrain rogue nations. We must see that it is really more in the interest of, say, Russia, to have an Iran that provokes us, just as the same can be said of China in its apparent unwillingness to reign in Kim’s North Korea.
There is a possibility that included on our President’s tour agenda is a “secret” meeting or two with the Russians in which they would be asked to use their influence to keep Iran in nuclear check while we green light them for a takeover of at least the Georgian gas pipelines if not the whole country. Let us hope that is not the case as the results of such collaboration with a Russian country still bent on world domination and hobbled now by the global recession are almost too horrific to contemplate.
An equally risky part of the Obama speech involves the fine line he must walk between reassuring the Muslims and yet not angering the Egyptian government. Egypt has been one of our strongest allies in the Arab world and it is the most populous with over 83 million people in its borders. Our president hates the idea of his concept of “torture” being used on terrorists or enemy combatants or whatever we now choose to call them, but Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has had no such reservations. He has held power for 27 years, largely through iron repression of extremists of every variety, with no real opposition and when there was opposition, as in the last election, the minority found itself imprisoned. Hardly a democracy, Egypt has still managed to stay moderate, perhaps only because of Mubarak’s tough policies. Criticizing the Egyptian government or calling into question its sketchy human rights record would win Obama no points with a government we are repeatedly calling upon for moderating Israeli diplomatic positions and for policing the radical Shiites and other mid-east terrorists.
Then there is the now growing part of the American nation that Obama cannot really keep happy by blaming everything on former President Bush and making outward appeals for help by apologizing for our behavior, bowing to Saudi leaders, and seeking the approval especially of the Muslim world. The argument is that over one-fifth of the world is Muslim. However, Obama would do well to remember that by the numbers, therefore, roughly eighty percent of the global population is not.
Thus such repeated Rodney King-style foreign policy talks anger many at home, making President Obama more of a target for ridicule and outright rejection. It is therefore, a fine line indeed that Obama should feel he is walking, and one wonders if he is reaching out a bit too much: he need not be the prince of all the world, his job is first and foremost to preserve, protect and defend America. Perhaps he should be reaching within this nation, not outside of it, for the support of strong and most likely militant actions that eventually America must be willing to undertake, yes, even unilaterally, if it wishes to survive, in this age of global nuclear proliferation.