Column One: Obama’s dangerous consistency
The neoconservative policy of supporting the democratization of Muslim societies adopted by President Barack Obama’s predecessor George W. Bush has failed. And the appeasement policy adopted by Obama has also failed.
Egyptians protest at US embassy. Photo: Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Reuters
On Tuesday, Egypt’s chief prosecutor issued arrest warrants against eight US
Their purported crimes relate either to their reported
involvement in the production of the Internet movie critical of Islam that has
received so much attention over the past 10 days, or to other alleged
One of the US citizens indicted is a woman who
converted from Islam to Christianity.
According to the Associated Press,
Egypt’s general prosecution issued a statement announcing that the eight US
citizens have been indicted on charges of insulting and publicly attacking
Islam, spreading false information, and harming Egyptian national
The statement stipulated that they could face the death penalty if
The AP write-up of the story quoted Mamdouh Ismail, a Salafi
attorney who praised the prosecution’s move. He claimed it would deter others
from exercising their right to free expression in regards to Islam. As he put
it, the prosecutions will “set a deterrent for them and anyone else who may fall
into this.” That is, they will deter others from saying anything critical about
This desire to intimidate free people into silence on Islam is
clearly the goal the heads of the Muslim Brotherhood seek to achieve through
their protests of the anti-Islamic movie. This was the message of Muslim
Brotherhood chief Yussuf Qaradawi. Three days after the anti-American assaults
began on the anniversary of the September 11 jihadist attacks on America,
Qaradawi gave a sermon on Qatar television, translated by MEMRI.
struck a moderate tone. He called on his followers to stop rioting against the
US. Rather than attack the US, Qaradawi urged his Muslim audience to insist that
the US place prohibitions on the free speech rights of American citizens by
outlawing criticism of Islam – just as the Europeans have done in recent years
in the face of Islamic terror and intimidation.
In his words, “We say to
the US: You must take a strong stance and try to confront this extremism like
the Europeans do. This [anti-Islamic film] is not art. It has nothing to do with
freedom of speech. This is nothing but curses and insults. Does the
freedom to curse and insult constitute freedom of speech?”
Both the actions of
the Egyptian prosecution and Qaradawi’s sermon prove incontrovertibly that the
two policies the US has adopted since September 11, 2001, to contend with Muslim
hatred for the US have failed. The neoconservative policy of supporting the
democratization of Muslim societies adopted by President Barack Obama’s
predecessor George W. Bush has failed. And the appeasement policy adopted
by Obama has also failed.
Bush’s democratization policy claimed that the
reason the Muslim world had become a hotbed for anti-Americanism and terror was
that the Muslim world was not governed by democratic regimes. Once the peoples
of the Muslim world were allowed to be free, and to freely elect their
governments, the neoconservatives proclaimed, they would abandon their hatred of
As a consequence of this belief, when the anti-regime protests
against the authoritarian Mubarak regime began in January 2011, the
neoconservatives were outspoken supporters of the overthrow of then-president
Hosni Mubarak, despite the fact that he had been the US’s key ally in the Arab
world for three decades. They supported the political process that brought the
Muslim Brotherhood to power. They supported the process despite the fact that
Qaradawi is the most influential cleric in Egypt. They supported it despite the
fact that just days after Mubarak was ousted from power, Qaradawi arrived at
Cairo’s Tahrir Square and before an audience of two million followers, he called
for the invasion of Israel and the conquest of Jerusalem.
In the event,
the Egyptian people voted for Qaradawi’s Muslim Brotherhood and for the Salafi
party. The distinction between the two parties is that Qaradawi and the Muslim
Brotherhood are willing to resort to both violent and nonviolent ways to
dominate the world in the name of Islam. The Salafis abjure nonviolence.
So while Qaradawi called for the riots to end in order to convince the Americans
to criminalize criticism of Islam, his Salafi counterparts called for the murder
of everyone involved in producing the anti-Islamic film.
Salafi cleric Ahmad Fouad Ashoush issued a fatwa on Islamic websites last
weekend calling for American and European Muslims to murder those involved with
the movie. His religious ruling was translated by the SITE Intelligence Group on
Ashoush wrote, “Those bastards who did this film are belligerent
disbelievers. I issue a fatwa and call on the Muslim youth in America and Europe
to do this duty, which is to kill the director, the producer and the actors and
everyone who helped and promoted the film.
“So, hurry, hurry, O Muslim
youth in America and Europe, and teach those filthy lowly ones a lesson that all
the monkeys and pigs in America and Europe will understand. May Allah guide you
and grant you success.”
These are the voices of democratic Egypt. The
government, which has indicted American citizens on capital charges for
exercising their most fundamental right as Americans, is a loyal representative
of the sentiments of the Egyptian people who freely elected it. The Salafi
preacher is a loyal representative of the segment of the Egyptian people that
made the Salafi party the second largest in the Egyptian parliament. Qaradawi’s
call for the abolition of freedom of speech in America – as has happened in
Europe – and to ban all criticism of Islam is subscribed to by millions and
millions of Muslims worldwide who consider him one of the leading Sunni clerics
in the world.
Free elections in Egypt have empowered the Egyptian people
to use the organs of governance to advance their hatred of America. Their hatred
has been empowered, and legitimized, not diminished as the neoconservatives had
The behavior of the Egyptian government, Qaradawi and the Salafis
also makes clear that Obama’s policy of appeasing the Muslim world has failed
completely. Whereas Bush believed the source of Muslim hatred was their
political oppression at the hands of their regimes, Obama has blamed their rage
and hatred on America’s supposed misdeeds.
By changing the way America
treats the Muslim world, Obama believes he can end their hatred of America. To
this end, he has reached out to the most anti-American forces and regimes in the
region and spurned pro-American regimes and political forces.
Obama’s policies are recognized as driven by appeasement, the seeming
inconsistency of his war against Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi on the one hand, and
his passivity in the face of the anti-regime uprising in Iran in 2009 and the
Syrian uprising against the Assad regime today makes sense. Gaddafi was not a
threat to the US, so he was unworthy of protection. The mullahs in Iran and
Assad are foes of the US. So they deserve protection. Obama has
assiduously courted the Muslim Brotherhood from the outset of his
The official and unofficial Egyptian exploitation of the
Internet film as a means to intimidate and attack the US into disavowing its
core principles is proof that Obama’s theory of the source of Muslim rage is
wrong. They do not hate America because of what the US government does. They
hate America because of what America is. And it is because of this that since
September 11, the rationale for Obama’s foreign policy has
Rather than accept this basic truth and defend the
American way of life, Obama has doubled down in the only way now available to
him. He, his administration, his campaign and his supporters in the media have
responded to the collapse of the foundations of his foreign policy by resorting
to the sort of actions they accused George W. Bush, his administration
and supporters of taking. They have responded with a campaign of
political oppression and nativist bigotry directed against their political
Late last Friday night, law enforcement officers descended on
the California home of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the man who made the film that
the Muslims of the newly free Arab lands find so offensive. Nakoula was
questioned by federal authorities and later released. His arrest was
photographed. The image of a dozen officers arresting an unarmed man for
making a movie was broadcast worldwide within moments.
an independent filmmaker, the White House requested that YouTube block access to
it. YouTube – owned by Google – has so far rejected the White House’s
The Obama administration’s abetment of bigoted nativism to
silence criticism of its substantively indefensible foreign policy was on
prominent display last Sunday. Obama’s campaign endorsed an anti-Semitic screed
published by New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd.
In her column,
titled, “Neocons slither back,” Dowd wrote that Republican Presidential and Vice
Presidential nominees Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are mere puppets controlled by
“neocon puppet master, Dan Senor.”
Neocon is a popular code for Jewish.
It was so identified by Dowd’s Times’ colleague David Brooks several years
Dowd said that “the neocons captured” Bush after the September 11
attacks and “Now, amid contagious Arab rage sparked on the 11th anniversary of
9/11, they have captured another would-be Republican president and vice
president, both jejeune about the world.”
One telling aspect of Dowd’s
assault on Senor as a neoconservative is that he and his boss in the Bush
administration, Paul Bremer, were the nemeses of the neoconservatives at the
Pentagon. The only thing Senor has in common with the likes of Paul Wolfowitz
and Douglas Feith is that all three men are Jews.
Moreover, Dowd drew a
distinction between supposed “neocons” like Senor, and non-Jewish US leaders
Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney who merely “abetted” the neocons.
Senor doesn’t share the same ideological worldview as Feith and Wolfowitz but
he’s a neocon. And Cheney and Rumseld do share the same worldview as
Feith and Wolfowitz. And they are not neocons.
The Times’ public editor
Andrew Rosenthal dismissed claims that Dowd’s column was anti- Semitic, arguing
it couldn’t be since she never said a word about Jews.
The Obama campaign
linked to Dowd’s column on its Twitter account with the message, “Why Romney and
Ryan’s foreign policy sounds ‘ominously familiar.’” Obama’s campaign’s
willingness to direct the public to anti-Semitic screeds against his political
opponents is consistent with the administration’s general strategy for defending
policies. That strategy involves responding to criticism not with substantive
defense of his policies, but with ad hominem attacks against his
His failed economic policies’ critics are attacked as “Wall
Street fat cats.” His failed foreign policies’ critics are demonized as ominous
neocon puppet masters.
There is a difference between appeasing parties
that have been harmed by your actions and appeasing parties that wish your
destruction. In the 1970s the US appeased the Philippines by transferring
sovereignty over the Clark Air Force Base to the Philippine government. America
was still America and the US and the Philippines became friends.
appease a party that hates your way of life, you must change your way of life.
The only way America can appease the Muslim world is for America to cease to be