Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 6, 2009

OBAMA: U.S. 'NOT AT WAR WITH ISLAM'.... President Obama addressed the Turkish Parliament in Ankara this morning, making his first appearance in a Muslim nation since his inauguration. Given his previous assurances that he would speak on U.S. relations with the Muslim world from a Muslim country during his first year in office, today's address fulfills a notable campaipgn promise.

The president's message -- the United States "is not and will never be at war with Islam" -- was unambiguous.

Urging a greater partnership with the Islamic world in an address to the Turkish parliament, Obama called the country an important U.S. ally in many areas, including the fight against terrorism. He devoted much of his speech to urging a greater bond between Americans and Muslims, portraying terrorist groups such as al Qaida as extremists who do not represent the vast majority of Muslims.

"Let me say this as clearly as I can," Obama said. "The United States is not and never will be at war with Islam. In fact, our partnership with the Muslim world is critical ... in rolling back a fringe ideology that people of all faiths reject." [...]

"America's relationship with the Muslim world cannot and will not be based on opposition to al Qaida," the president said. "We seek broad engagement based upon mutual interests and mutual respect."

"We will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over so many centuries to shape the world for the better, including my own country," Obama said.

This morning, the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza wrote, "When President Obama addresses the Turkish Parliament later today, the eyes -- and expectations -- of the world will, literally, be upon him." That's probably a bit of an exaggeration, but as Mike Allen added, "Obama's declaration that the U.S. "is not at war with Islam" got immediate and huge play throughout the Arab world, with the Middle Eastern satellite news channels Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya carrying the address live."

(Obama's speech, as prepared, is online here.)

Spencer Ackerman had a good item on this, noting, "Some corners of the right may see this as creeping dhimmitude, and yet it's important to recognize that Obama is interpreting U.S.-Islamic relations the way Muslim leaders worldwide have wanted them interpreted -- not restrained to a narrow counterterrorism issue, but a broadly-construed and enduring partnership of mutual respect.... [T]he Ankara speech shows that there is, in fact, a choice between domination and subservience, between perpetual war and dhimmitude: patient, respectful cooperation, and acting like great civilizations ought to act."

Steve Benen 10:15 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (18)

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On that note, I have to recommend Juan Cole's latest book, Engaging the Muslim World. Lucid, sane and well-grounded.

It's a sad time when "sane" is a point to be raised.

Posted by: jayackroyd on April 6, 2009 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

Why would the right object to this? Didn't our former president say basically the same thing on numerous occasions?

Posted by: KTinOhio on April 6, 2009 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Some corners of the right may see this as creeping dhimmitude

Can I assume "dhimmitude" means appeasement and not Bush-like stupidity in this case?

Posted by: Danp on April 6, 2009 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

"Why would the right object to this? Didn't our former president say basically the same thing on numerous occasions?"

Isn't it obvious? It is the same blatant double-standard they've always had. Defend a republican to the death, engage a democrat to the death. What they admire about their own group, they sneer at and insult in the other group.

They're going to paint Obama as unamerican and unfit to lead, and they don't care what kind of lies and twisted thinking they have to use to do it.

Posted by: Shade Tail on April 6, 2009 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

"dhimmitude"
In this context, appeasement to Islam. Nice usage!!!

Posted by: Jeff In Ohio on April 6, 2009 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

Why would the right object to this? Didn't our former president say basically the same thing on numerous occasions?

Yes, but they know he didn't really mean it. It was just another of the numerous ideas to which Bush paid lip service but never actually did anything about. Obama might actually do something to quell terrorism, and how can the right have a new enemy as scary as the Soviet Union was if Obama takes terrorism away from them?

Posted by: Mnemosyne on April 6, 2009 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

"Yes, but they know he didn't really mean it."

Maybe it was because he said, "We are not at war with Islam, heh-heh-heh," a la SNL.

Posted by: cyclepath on April 6, 2009 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

So nice to see adults running things.

FINALLY.

Posted by: terraformer on April 6, 2009 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

'dhimmitude'??? Wherever that mongrel word came from, it deserves to be put out of its misery.

Posted by: David on April 6, 2009 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

It's only a matter of minutes before the wackos start saying I told you so - this proves he's a Muslim.

Posted by: CDW on April 6, 2009 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

"Muslim" is not a proper noun in Arabic. It simply means one who submits to God. It is a much more inclusive word than "Christian" or "Jew" or "Hindu" -- which would be a good thing to know, when folks try to divide "Muslims" from the rest of us.

Posted by: anonymous on April 6, 2009 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

I cannot think of a worse place to make that speech than Turkey.

That country's "tolerance" comes from a convulsions of genocide and mass expulsion against non Moslem (Assyrian Christians, Armenians, Greeks) and non Turkish populations (Kurds). It's foreign policy includes violation of more UN resolutions then Saddam's Iraq or Milosevic's Serbia with its invasion and continued occupation of Cyprus.

Posted by: Rachel Levine on April 6, 2009 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

David: You can find out exactly "wherever that mongrel word came from" by following the links (like I did) or just go directly to wikipedia and look it up.

Posted by: emjayay on April 6, 2009 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

DHIMMITUDE! The English language doesn't need any more bastards. And while we're at it, ban "whilst" — which is either the name of a minor Scandinavian storm god or a three-handed card game for geriatrics.

Posted by: buddy66 on April 6, 2009 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't our former president say basically the same thing on numerous occasions?

Yes he did. Bush always distinguished the majority of Muslims from the small set of violent extremists who had attempted to hijack the religion.

The tests for Obama will come when Obama has to decide whether to keep killing Muslims in Afghanistan in order to protect other Muslims from the Taleban, and when he has to decide whether to support (condone, etc.) attacks by (Jewish) Zionists against (Muslim) Palestinians using American-made weaponry. Already the Iranian leadership and some others have claimed that Obama is indistinguishable from Bush.

Right now Obama and Secy Clinton are pushing hard for a two-state solution in Palestine, but such a solution has been rejected by Arab leaders and most Arabs since it was first proposed in 1948. If Obama/Clinton can be more successful than Bush/Powell/Rice and Clinton/Albright, good for them. But with Hamas and Fatah at war with each other, and in light of history since 1948, does success seem likely?

Will Obama's generous words toward Islam improve human rights in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, etc? Obama is a heck of a good guy and eloquent (speaker) sometimes, but the problems that he faces lie outside his power to improve things.

Dhimmitude? Anders Fogh Rasmussen was accepted by Turkey to be head of the NATO governing council only after he agreed to apologize for the suffering caused by the Danish cartoonists, an apology supported by Obama.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on April 6, 2009 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

the Islamic faith, which has done so much over so many centuries to shape the world for the better, including my own country

And what has the Islamic faith ever done for America?

Posted by: alan on April 6, 2009 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

[...]ban "whilst" — which is either the name of a minor Scandinavian storm god or a three-handed card game for geriatrics. -- buddy 66, @13:05

The card game is "whist", not "whilst". "Whilst" is the Brit equivalent of US "while". Maybe you should try 69 for a change of perspective.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
the Islamic faith, which has done so much over so many centuries to shape the world for the better, including my own country," Obama said.

Oh, yeah? If the G..d...d Eyerabs hadn't invented the G..d...d zero all those years ago, we wouldn't have had the G..d...d economic crisis we're in now. "Shaping the world for the better", indeed!!!

Posted by: exlibra on April 6, 2009 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Okay... pretty good....

Now can he please bring up Bosnia?

Peace with Muslims was NEVER on Bush's agenda so I understand why HE didn't bring up this absolute triumph of goodwill, but WHY does Obama not remind people that we bombed CHRISTIANS in order to save Muslims from slaughter?

If we were at war with Muslims, all we had to do was sit back and watch.

We didn't.

One of the few good things Clinton actually accomplished. Use it.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on April 7, 2009 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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