Echoing and expounding upon concerns first raised by Charles Krauthammer, columnist Jeff Jacoby is criticizing President Barack Obama for portraying tension between America and the Muslim world as a recent development triggered by American arrogance:
"Missing is any sense that the United States has long been the target of jihadist fanatics who enjoy widespread support in the Muslim world."
Krauthammer wrote that Obama thus far has been "needlessly defensive and apologetic" and pointed out that American soldiers have fought and died to save Muslim lives five times in the past 20 years.
Jacoby compares Obama’s overtures to Jimmy Carter’s conciliatory posture early in his presidency toward the Soviet Union. Carter tried to accentuate his belief that America and the USSR shared a desire to live in a "more peaceful, just, and humane world." But Soviet tanks stormed into Afghanistan a few years later and Carter had to adopt a harder line.
Jacoby worries that Obama could be following the same path, calling the President describing the President’s "seeming cluelessness about US-Muslim history":
"The golden age of American-Muslim relations that Obama harks back to did not exist. Radical Islam's hatred of the United States is not a recent phenomenon, it has nothing to do with 'respect,' and it isn't going to be extinguished by sweet words -- not even those of so sweet a speaker as Obama. Sooner or later, Barack Obama must confront an implacable reality: The global jihad, like the Cold War, will only end when our enemies lose their will to fight -- or when we do."
The Carter analogy is an interesting one. There’s nothing wrong with working toward better relations in the Muslim world, Jacoby writes. Just do it without absolving the party’s of their contributions to the problem.