A word on Obama’s interview with Al Arabiya

I talked briefly on Friday about Obama’s interview he did with Al Arabiya earlier last week, but wanted to expand on it more tonight.

First things first: How many of you think it was ok that the first interview he did as President of the United States was with a foreign media outlet? The left seems to be ok with it but I, for one, am not. A president’s first interview should be with and in the country that elected him in the first place, rather than sitting down with another and apologizing for how ‘awful’ we’ve supposedly treated Muslims over the last 30 years. We’ve got a national crisis going on with our economy, we’re also a country at war, and this country is the country that deserved the first interview he did as President.

Secondly, my biggest objection – even more so than the fact that he didn’t bother to address the American people via an interview first, is the fact that he threw the Bush administration under the bus as it relates to how Bush’s tried to reach out to the Muslim community in the aftermath of 9-11. His entire “interview” was based on trying to tear down the last 8 years of Bush administration Muslim outreach efforts and make it look like what Bush and his administration did was broadbrush all Muslims as evil. Bush repeatedly reminded people during his administration that not all Muslims were the enemy, and repeatedly said that Islam was a “religion of peace” but also acknowledged that there was a segment of followers of Islam who were dangerous thugs who needed to be dealt with. Bush’s Muslim outreach efforts went almost overboard to some people who understood his need to do it, but at the same time thought he went too far. Barack Obama spent that interview apologizing for the last 20+ years of America’s relationship with the Muslim world, in particular the Bush administration, and I find that deeply offensive – not to mention dishonest.

Some have said that even though Bush did reach out to the Muslim community, the fact that he went to war with Iraq, and created Club Gitmo, and then on top of that the problems that happened in Abu Ghraib are part of the reason why Muslims ‘don’t trust’ the US. I beg to differ. Our invasion into Afghanistan outraged the Muslim world, and most of us will agree that that was a necessary action, so that point about Iraq is moot. The president felt as prior presidents did about Iraq (Clinton, and Bush I) and took decisive action in a post-9-11 world to deal with it. That is a president’s job, regardless of “world opinion.” Re: Abu Ghraib and other isolated instances of abuses of power within the military, once these incidents were reported Bush made it very clear that they were actions that would be punished to the fullest extent of the law and that the attitude displayed by those who perpetuated those acts did not represent the sum total of how the US (and the military) viewed Muslims. Re: Gitmo, again, Bush made it clear that the only people that would be put there were thugs picked up on foreign soil in the heat of battle who flew no country’s flag.

What elevated the “outrage” meter on Gitmo was the fact that, instead of being diplomatic about their responses to the Euro-outrage on Gitmo, many on the left (like Dick Durbin, for example) openly sided with the European elites who treated Bush with utter contempt simply because he wanted those picked up in the course of battle off the battlefield so that they couldn’t harm anyone else. Yes, there were going to be legit disagreements about Gitmo, but instead of defending him against the myth that he was a rights-stealing villain who hated anyone with brown skin, the left perpetuated the myth with their comments about Gitmo, further causing outrage in the Muslim world. The left likes to talk alot about how their patriotism was questioned over the last 8 years, but they will rarely acknowledge how they in turn did the same thing to Bush WRT claiming he wanted to tear up the Constitution. Do they feel that way about FDR? Lincoln?

Another argument exists that even though Bush did reach a hand out to the Muslim community, that there was the “perception” that Bush was anti-Muslim and that Obama didn’t want to be part of that perception. Well, you don’t have to make yourself part of that perception to be able to give credit where it is due. He didn’t have to heap praise on Bush, didn’t have to even mention his name, but he could have done as Bush did over criticisms of Bill Clinton’s counterterrorism approach, which was to describe past efforts as “good faith efforts that didn’t work.” Of course some of them did work, but Obama doesn’t believe that – and that’s beside the point, anyway. We all read and watched the reports about how Bush invited Obama to the WH and that, between those two and other advisors over the course of two months, that it was clear that Bush wanted Obama to understand and have every tool at his disposal to fight terror, to get him to see what Bush saw everyday of his presidency, especially after 9-11, about the threats that were out there.

There’s no question that Bush made a lot of mistakes related to the GWOT, and overreached in some areas in attempting to protect this country, but in that regard, he’s no different from Lincoln or FDR. Yet he was treated like Hitler by many of his detractors both here and abroad. He’s had to wake up every day since 9-11 remembering the nightmare that 3K people were murdered in one morning on his watch, most of them Americans, and as a result he took actions that he felt were necessary and appropriate. They might not have always been the right ones, but in the end it was always about making a “good faith effort” to protect this country. These are things I have no doubt Bush wanted to get Obama to understand before he took the oath of office. Obama and his wife both spoke almost gushingly about how Bush and his admin were helpful with them in every way possible. Yet in his very first interview, Obama stabbed Bush in the back when he talked about “restoring” and “making a clean break from the past” as if Bush had never engaged in good faith efforts to both protect this country and at the same time be accommodating towards the Muslim world.

I’m also concerned that Obama is apparently a man whose knowledge of world events is evidently sorely lacking for a man of his intelligence. Let’s not forget what he said during the campaign trail in how he referenced Kennedy’s meeting with Khrushchev as an “example” of how American heads of state should “reach out,” apparently forgetting what an utter failure that meeting was (and that’s not the only thing he got wrong regarding past presidents meeting face to face with the enemy). The comments he made in the interview with Al Arabiya as it relates to the alleged ‘good relationship’ we supposedly used to have with the Muslim world 20 and 30 years ago (Krauthammer touched on this at length yesterday, which I noted in my prior post about this) remain mystifying. I’m still waiting for SOMEONE in the American press to question him on exactly what he was talking about: The bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon, or the Iran hostage crisis?

As I’ve said before, I want to support Obama on decisions related to our national security provided he shows that he understands the nature of the conflict, realizes he can’t be ideological about it, and provided that he doesn’t view the US as the problem more so than Islamofascism. After reading this interview, I’m deeply concerned that he still doesn’t get it.

Comments are closed.