President Obama has made two direct statements toward the Muslim world since taking office and columnist Charles Krauthammer is concerned by the tone of each. In a column Friday, Krauthammer finds the President's remarks in his inaugural address and in an interview on Al-Arabiya television "needlessly defensive and apologetic."
Obama has described his desire for "a new way forward," and expressed hope things can be like they were "as recently as 20 or 30 years ago." In that time, Krauthammer notes, we've seen the Iranian revolution bring a radical Shiite government to power, seize Americans as hostages for more than a year and seen terrorist attacks against American diplomats and Marines in Lebanon on a peacekeeping mission. In contrast:
"In these most recent 20 years -- the alleged winter of our disrespect of the Islamic world -- America did not just respect Muslims, it bled for them. It engaged in five military campaigns, every one of which involved -- and resulted in -- the liberation of a Muslim people: Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.
The two Balkan interventions -- as well as the failed 1992-93 Somalia intervention to feed starving African Muslims (43 Americans were killed) -- were humanitarian exercises of the highest order, there being no significant U.S. strategic interest at stake. In these 20 years, this nation has done more for suffering and oppressed Muslims than any nation, Muslim or non-Muslim, anywhere on Earth. Why are we apologizing?"
He finds the President's posture that America has been disrespectful toward the Muslim world is false and "in gratuitous disparagement of the country he is now privileged to lead." Despite what some advocacy groups claim, the United States has not demonized Islam:
"In these seven years since Sept. 11 -- seven years during which thousands of Muslims rioted all over the world (resulting in the death of more than 100) to avenge a bunch of cartoons -- there's not been a single anti-Muslim riot in the United States to avenge the massacre of 3,000 innocents. On the contrary. In its aftermath, we elected our first Muslim member of Congress and our first president of Muslim parentage."