Thursday, June 04, 2009

Obama and "the Muslim world"

For weeks, the press has been previewing "Obama's speech to the Muslim world". Where is that world, exactly?

I've checked maps and even a small globe - nope - no "Muslim world".

Maybe it's somewhere near the Christian world, the Hindu world, the Buddhist world or the Jewish world because I couldn't find any of those either.

If Obama's speech was meant to reach the largest number of Muslims in one country, self-admittedly he should have stayed home.

In an interview with Laura Haim on Canal Plus, a French television station, Mr. Obama noted that the United States also could be considered as “one of the largest Muslim countries in the world.”

Hmmm...according to the CIA Factbook there are fewer Muslims in the US than Buddhists - a whopping 0.6%. (The state department begs to differ.)

And did you know that "only 15% of Muslims are Arab"?

So, why is Obama in Egypt reaching out to "the Muslim world" again?

And while he's doing that is it too much to ask that he actually tell the truth?

Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire.

America is very much "the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire" and until Obama grasps that fact, what's the point of trying to convince anybody else of his intentions?

It's a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered.

Says the man for whom the Afghanistan war has now become a war of choice in which the Pentagon always immediately and steadfastly denies the killing of civilians yet is forced to admit the truth when it can no longer be covered up. The latest example: US military admits errors in air strikes that killed scores of Afghan civilians.

That's scores.

140 dead civilians.

Now, what was it Obama just said about cowardice? And exactly how does he expect to win the hearts and minds of Afghans and the so-called "Muslim world" again?

And after providing the same old lip service to the long-dead Middle East "road map" (does he really think Netanyahu will ever concede anything?), continuing on with the things he must talk about while he's over there, he played these word games:

I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons. That is why I strongly reaffirmed America's commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons. And any nation – including Iran – should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That commitment is at the core of the Treaty, and it must be kept for all who fully abide by it. And I am hopeful that all countries in the region can share in this goal.

Now, what kind of response can a realist have to that rhetoric beyond a simple "get real"?

Shorter Obama:

1. No nation can say who should have nuclear weapons.
2. The US says nobody should have nuclear weapons.
3. Iran must comply with the NNPT. India, Israel, and Pakistan (which already have nuclear weapons)? Not so much. (And raise your hand if you really believe the US will ever get rid of its nukes...)

Ergo, if I lived in the elusive "Muslim world", I'd be more than a bit skeptical when it's quite obvious that words still trump deeds in Middle Eastern affairs and how they're still being dealt with by the US government.

Lastly, I don't think I need to detail the obvious contradictions in this bit of flourish compared to Obama's record since he became president. (For those who remain clueless, simply read the writings of Glenn Greenwald, Chris Hedges, Glen Ford, Tom Englehardt, Andy Worthington and so many others if you're ready to give up this kind of adolescent girl-like fawning over Obama.)

No matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who hold power: you must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.

"True democracy" - has it ever existed in the United States according to that definition?

Stay tuned next week when Obama addresses the "Christian world" about violence against abortion providers and whoever else they might have their (gun) sights set on.

Or not.

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