By Robert Spencer
I have said that in this speech I would offer my personal commitment to engagement with the Islamic world, based upon mutual interests and mutual respect. Establishing peace between the forces of the global jihad and America and her ally Israel is something that I would very much love to do. The first thing I must acknowledge, however, is that much as I would love to see this peace dawning over the world, it is not within my power to achieve this.
That may surprise many of you. You have grown accustomed to thinking that the tensions between Muslims and the United States – tensions that boiled over on September 11, 2001 and on the occasions of many other acts of jihad terrorism as well – are entirely the fault of the United States. Americans have been told that we are hated because of our support for Israel, and because of our attempts to bring freedom and stability to the overwhelmingly Muslim people of Iraq and Afghanistan. We are hated because we have spent American treasure to try to secure a better life for Muslims the world over, spending billions of dollars in aid for Egypt, Pakistan, and other Muslim countries.
I must speak honestly with you. It puzzles and pains Americans to see ourselves vilified and hated for trying to help others. Now, unlike the Islamic Republic of Iran and other Islamic entities, we seek no apologies, no restitution. We do not ask for a word of thanks for our numerous attempts to help Muslim societies become safe, prosperous places to live for all their citizens. We do not ask for your approval. But at this point we are going to cease efforts to build bridges of understanding with the Islamic world that have turned out to be fruitless, and even self-defeating.
We have showered billions on Pakistan to enable the Pakistani government to fight the Islamic jihadists, only to see a great deal of that money being funneled to those same jihadists, who are now stronger than ever.
We have tried to establish democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan, only to see non-Muslim minorities treated worse than ever, such that they have been streaming out of Iraq in unprecedented numbers, while the few that remain in Afghanistan are subject to increasingly violent persecution.
We have brokered peace treaty after peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians – from Camp David to Oslo to the Road Map for Peace – only to see the Palestinian side again and again trample upon its commitments to recognize and respect Israel’s basic right to exist.
I have offered you America’s outstretched hand. In doing so I have followed a path blazed by my predecessors. But that gesture of conciliation has never been reciprocated. And so now, even as my good will is still extended to you, I must act more realistically.
Pakistan and other Muslim countries will not receive another penny of American aid unless and until they demonstrate – in a transparent and inspectable fashion – that they are working against, not abetting, the forces of the global jihad. This will include instituting comprehensive nationwide programs to teach against the jihad doctrine of Islamic supremacism, teaching that Muslims and non-Muslims must live together as equal citizens on an indefinite basis, without any attempts by Muslims to subjugate non-Muslims as inferiors under the rule of Islamic law.
I trust you will understand that we cannot continue to fund the cutting of our own throat.
Afghanistan and Iraq must immediately guarantee the equality of rights of women and non-Muslims, or American arms will no longer devote themselves to keeping regimes in power that do not guarantee those rights.
I will call upon Israel to make no further territorial concessions. The withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 demonstrated only that such concessions whet, rather than sate, the appetites of Islamic jihadists for more concessions. The assumption that territorial concessions will bring peace ignores not only recent history, but also the stated goal of the jihadist movements arrayed against Israel: the destruction of the Jewish state.
That state is an American ally – a more reliable one than any Islamic state has ever been. And we will do whatever is necessary to preserve and defend that ally.
Our hand is outstretched, but we are not unrealistic about the nature of the world. The animus between us is as much, if not more, the result of the doctrines of jihad and Islamic supremacism as it is a result of American policy. I am telling you today that we understand this, and will be acting accordingly. Ultimately a policy based on realism will be much better for both of us than policies based on the fantasies and half-truths that have hitherto prevailed.
Thank you, and may God bless you.
[Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad.] 6.2.09
Outreach or Overreach?
Much is being said about President Obama’s speech today at Cairo University. Left-leaning pundits have touted the speech in a leading Arab nation as a bold outreach to “the Muslim World.” It may be a bold outreach from a political perspective, but it was certainly a bold overreach from a factual and historical perspective.
Quoting from the Koran four times, the President said, “Islam has always been a part of America’s story. The first nation to recognize my country was Morocco…let there be no doubt, Islam is a part of America.” Actually, Mr. President, it was Holland. On November 16, 1776, officials at Saint Eustatius in the Dutch West Indies fired “the first salute” to a warship bearing the American flag. The event was the subject of a best-selling history book by Barbara Tuchman, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize. The President is certainly entitled to his own opinion of America. But, as Ronald Reagan said, he is not entitled to his own facts.
President Obama went on to cite John Adams’ words when second president signed the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796. Adams, at the time, said we had “no enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility of Muslims.” The only problem was that the Barbary Pirates, then operating out of Tripoli, continued to prey on American shipping. Although he didn’t use “micro loans” or new “science and technology” funds, Adams attempted to buy them off and failed. By 1800, nearly one-fifth of the federal budget was consumed in trying to pay off predatory rulers in North Africa. When Thomas Jefferson succeeded Adams in 1801, he dispatched warships and U.S. Marines “to the shores of Tripoli” to fight for American rights. Jefferson was determined not to pay tribute to the Muslim rulers of North Africa and to stop their seizing U.S. merchant ships and selling American seamen into slavery. That effort succeeded.
And yes, Jefferson did own a copy of the Koran as President Obama stated in his speech today. But the reason he read it when he was serving as our ambassador in Paris was to see if it could really be true–as Arab diplomats were telling him–that the Koran gave them the right to attack and enslave Americans and all other “infidels.” Jefferson concluded from his reading that America must fight–not pay tribute–to protect her citizens.
Full Text of Obama’s speech here.