Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Obama's Words Imply Muslim Ignorance

This past week Barack Obama made two important moves regarding the Middle East. As usual, both were rhetorical in nature and relied heavily on Obama’s own personal appeal in order to distract Americans from the actual implications of the President's words.

First, the President and his administration essentially signaled that they will no longer be using the term “War On Terror” in order to define the struggle between the United States and murderous fanatics who kill civilians. This implies one of two things. Either Obama does not consider what we’re currently doing in Afghanistan and Iraq to be a “war” or he does not consider those who we are fighting to be “terrorists”.

Next, Obama took a page from George W. Bush and emphatically declared that the Unites States is not at war with Islam.

Well, Duh Barry!

All Americans should hope that the change in nomenclature from the “War On Terror “ to “Overseas Contingency Operations” is simply an indication that Obama views the battle against Islamic extremism as a matter of law enforcement as opposed to a war. If this is the case, then we can at least be assured that while the Democrats may be incredibly ignorant as to the motivations of Islamic extremists and the best way to battle them, at least they are not delusional enough to believe that these “criminals” are anything other that ideology-driven soldiers engaged in a “crime spree” against the West as opposed to “freedom fighters” as many on the extreme left like to call them.

Let’s face it. If Obama is implying that those who attacked us on 9/11 are something other than “terrorists” or if his administration is afraid that the word “terrorism” will offend someone who is rational enough for America to negotiate with, then we might as well just put up a big sign at customs that says: “Welcome to The United States. Open to The Idea of Sharia Law Since 2009”.

The President’s declaration of the United States not being at “war with Islam” is different.

At this point, after the Bush Administration bent over backwards in the days and years following 9/11 to convince the world that Islam was a “religion of peace” it is hard to believe that there is still anyone in the world who sincerely believes that the U.S. government is at war with all of Islam.

But through his statement Obama has conceded that there is still a large portion of the Muslim world that believes that America is at war with all of Islam. The only reason for this belief, which is widespread in the Muslim world, is pure ignorance among Islam’s practitioners.

The causes behind this incredible misunderstanding are complex and speak to the dangers that the governments that these naive individuals live under pose to the world in general. Muslims in nations such as Iran and Syria as well as those living under the Palestinian authority and other tyrannical regimes have constantly been told that America is fighting in the region with the goal of eradicating Islam and permanently occupying Muslim lands. This myth is perpetuated through government-run media, a theology-based education system and word-of-mouth on Middle Eastern streets in which the citizens have little access to accurate information regarding anything, not simply in matters of foreign policy. In this country, even those who are adamantly opposed to our actions in the region over the last five decades understand that the issues and goals which have driven our actions do not stem from a desire to destroy the Islamic faith. Obama is correct in reiterating this fact. However there is no reason to believe that those who disseminate the information in the Islamic world will spin the President’s words to our nation’s benefit.

Of course, only the expansion of American-style democracy will completely correct this situation. However, the combination of the unfortunate mishandling of the war in Iraq as well as the knee-jerk opposition that the American left has to pro-freedom foreign policy tactics has severely limited our options for correcting the situation in the Arab world.

The unfortunate reality is that a huge portion of the Islamic world either lacks the capacity or the access to information that would allow them to truly understand the current conflict.

While President Obama is correct in reiterating George W. Bush’s insistence that the United States harbors no ill will towards Islam as a religion or Muslims as a people, the reality is that the Islamic world will only gain the needed perspective once the people of the region are given access to information that accurately portrays the reality of the situation.

Too many in the Middle East still seem oblivious to the fact that the vast majority of Muslims killed in recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan were murdered by fellow Muslims and not at the hands of crusading Westerners.

While I do not wish to give the impression that I believe everyone in the Islamic world is ignorant of the complexity of U.S. actions and goals in the region, clearly a significant portion is. Why else would Obama feel the need to say what he did? Furthermore, the unfortunate reality is that no matter how many times an American president tells the Muslim world that we are not at war with Islam, the leadership of Islamic regimes seem to be hell-bent on making sure that the message does not reach the populace or that if it does, they are made to doubt the sincerity of the statement

-Dan Joseph

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