I note that many editorials in newspapers this morning quote from or allude to one paragraph of President Barack Obama’s inaugural speech:
“To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West: Know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.” [emphasis added mine]
President Obama intentionally lumped together “the Muslim world” with “leaders … who seek to sow conflict” and “the silencing of dissent.” Editors and commentators believing that he can convince the 57 Muslim nations to become less autocratic seems the epitome of naiveté; within them, secular democracy is the wrong side of history, immodest, and threatening.
Pakistan, Lebanon, Indonesia, and Egypt all allow dissent and Islamic radicalism continues to rise in those nations. There are no signs that dissidents here in America mistakenly believe he was redressing petro-rich Arab nations for using vasts sums to support the spread of sharia law. If he was appealing to dissidents in Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush and Pakistan’s tribal areas, they have already replied:
The Taliban on Tuesday killed four Pakistanis and two Afghan nationals they accused of spying for the US in North Waziristan. The bodies of three Pakistanis – Muhammad Nisar, Shahideen Khattak, Shadar – and Khanu Afghani, an Afghan refugee, were found on Tehsil Road, 25 kilometres from Mir Ali. Meanwhile, the bodies of Gul Zali, an Afghan national, and Majeed Khattak, a local, were found in Miranshah. A not [sic] found next to the bodies read that the bodies were “a gift for US President Barack Obama, Afghan President Karzai and President Asif Ali Zardari”.
Most likely, President Obama was offering his hand — with preconditions — to Iran and Syria where gathering radicals together and exporting them in the form of Islamic terrorism is foreign policy. If he unilaterally removes the military option from the table, it will be interesting to see how those nations respond.