The Obama administration’s repeated lie about the attacks on U.S. targets across the Middle East–i.e. that the motive is anger about a film, not anger at the U.S.–reveals a deeper truth: the Obama camp really does believe he is loved in the Muslim world, and has changed perceptions of America by his mere presence in the White House. They continue to believe that dangerous self-delusion–despite all evidence to the contrary.
In 2007, Obama famously said: “I truly believe that the day I’m inaugurated not only does the country look at itself differently, but the world looks at America differently. If I’m reaching out to the Muslim world, they understand that I’ve lived in a Muslim country and I may be a Christian but I also can understand their point of view.”
Opinion polls show that global opinion–including in Muslim countries–has become more anti-American, not less, since Obama took office, replacing the “hated” George W. Bush.
That decline–especially in East Asia–is not the result of any anti-Islamic film. It is the direct result of Obama’s weak foreign policy.
Obama may be a good Chicago politician, but has forgotten the timeless political advice that Niccolò Machiavelli gave the Medicis in The Prince: “[A ruler] ought to be both loved and feared; but, since it is difficult to accomplish both at the same time, I maintain it is much safer to be feared than loved.”
In that sense, Obama’s policy of retreat on all fronts–save the direct and commendable targeted killing of Al Qaeda leaders–has damaged American national security, both at home and abroad. The Obama administration dares not speak the words “Islamic terrorism,” for fear of offending–but instead of winning respect, it has built contempt.
Conservatives should beware of carrying this critique too far. Obama himself is not directly responsible for the attacks on our embassies in the Middle East, or the “green-on-blue” attacks on our troops in Afghanistan–any more than a film is responsible. We ought not fall into the left-wing fallacy–repeated by so-called “realists” throughout the Iraq War–that what hostile powers do to America is ultimately our fault, not theirs.
Nor, I would argue, is the “Arab Spring” to blame. Andrew McCarthy argues boldly that there never was, in fact, an Arab Spring, and reminds us that the procedural formality of democracy does not guarantee liberty or peace. But tyranny in the Middle East has long been a worse bet for our safety and our national interests.
It is our refusal to defend the forces of liberty in the Middle East that has brought us to this calamitous point–not the Obama administration’s (belated, and selective) support for the Arab revolutionaries.
With the notable exception of Bahrain, a Saudi client state, President Obama gave tacit or overt support to the anti-American tyrants of the Middle East, while undermining pro-American regimes (or those that were, like Gaddafi’s Libya, moving in a pro-American direction). He was forthright and one-sided in his criticism of Israel, and he continues to coddle Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood in the vain hope it will change.
All of that adds up. But the Obama administration refuses to do the math.
It is so invested in its own naïve cult of personality–spending vast sums buy and distribute Obama’s books abroad, for instance–that it cannot see it has lost the Arab Spring to the forces of radicalism.
“They” don’t hate us because of Obama. But they are less afraid to show it, now.
That–and the fact that our government was so unprepared, so eager to apologize–is Obama’s failure.