Obama on the Middle East

by Victor Davis Hanson

National Review Online

The last three and a half years, Barack Obama has gone out of his way to bow, apologize, contextualize, and scapegoat in order to win Middle Eastern affection. Yet, his reset, “Bush did it” policy is now in shambles, and he apparently has nothing with which to replace it.

So I have a modest suggestion. Obama has a formidable arsenal of invective that he has unleashed against conservatives, Republicans, and just about anyone else on the domestic scene he doesn’t like. Why, then, not redeploy these fire-in-the-belly attacks against those who kill Americans abroad?

All Obama has to do is imagine that the mobs in the Middle East are not misunderstood Muslims — who overreacted a bit to an offensive American video — but rather suspect conservatives and opponents of progressive thought. Then, mutatis mutandis, Obama might get fired up and level a much-needed warning.

If he did, it might go like this:

I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we’ve struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We’ve made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.

But let’s be perfectly clear, the Middle East acted stupidly.

If the people of the Middle East cannot trust their governments to do the job for which they exist — to protect them and to promote their common welfare — all else is lost. It’s not surprising, then, that those on the Arab street get bitter; they cling to their religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-American sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

Make no mistake about it — the point I am making is not that Middle Easterners harbor any racial animosity. They don’t. But there is a typical Middle Eastern person, who, if they see somebody on the street that they don’t know, you know, there’s a reaction that’s been bred in their experiences that don’t go away and that sometimes come out in the wrong way, and that’s just the nature of religion and race in their society. And so what I think we know — separate and apart from these incidents — is that there is a long history in their countries of average Americans being singled out disproportionately, and that’s just a fact. On more than one occasion, they have uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that have made us cringe.

Nonetheless, whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower. So if they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun. Because from what I understand, folks in America like a good brawl. I’ve seen our football fans. Make no mistake about it: We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us. So I want America to argue with those radicals in the Middle East and get in their face.

Finally, as far as Middle Eastern governments go, I don’t want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talking. I want them to get out of the way so we can clean up the mess. I don’t mind cleaning up after them, but don’t do a lot of talking. They just can’t drive their SUVs and eat as much as they want and keep their homes on 72 degrees at all times — and then just expect that other people are going to say okay. That’s not leadership. That’s not going to happen.

Amen, Mr. President.

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