resident Obama is preparing to give what's being billed as a major speech to the Muslim world as soon as next week. He'll reportedly contrast the Islamist ideology of Osama bin Laden, which he feels represents the failures of the past, with the Arab Spring pro-democracy protests that have swept the Middle East and North Africa since January, which the president considers the future. (It's unclear whether Obama will discuss the deadlocked Israeli-Palestinian peace process.) Winning arguments?
No, Obama is offering false choices: The only difference between al Qaeda and the Arab Spring is tactical, says Bryan Preston at Pajamas Media. "Bin Laden's model was to take over through terrorism," while the new Arab Spring model is to exploit a political vacuum to empower "a coalition of 'moderates' (who favor terrorism) and 'extremists' (who also favor terrorism)." What's the point, Obama, in trying to separate the Islamists from the Islamists?
"Obama to renew 'Muslim outreach'"
Obama's speech could help — despite the Right's "phony outrage": Of course ultra conservatives are "all lathered up into a fine frothy rage" over Obama's bid to create new allies in the Middle East, says Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs. That's what happens when you're "stuck in a fantasy war with the entire religion of Islam." Obama's Muslim diplomacy has a better shot than the Right's favored alternative: More war and violence.
"Obama to renew Muslim outreach, right wing blogs freak out"
Actually, this outreach is simply "irrelevant": The problem with Obama's argument, says James Taranto in The Wall Street Journal, is that it elevates bin Laden by belittling "the inadequacy of his ideology — as if such proof were necessary." The Middle East has already largely rejected al Qaeda. So unless Obama makes an "awkward, and perhaps ill-advised," case against the region's real threat — tyranny — he's wasting his breath.
"An irrelevant 'outreach'"
Remember, Obama will be talking to the West, too: "This idea of a speech was in the works long before Osama bin Laden was assassinated," says Fareed Zakaria at CNN. But his death "provides a kind of one-two punch" to the main theme: Obama's take on the Arab awakening. He sees it as a global historic event and wants to interpret it "for the American public and for a larger global public."
"Fareed Zakaria on Obama's second speech to the Muslim world"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why is American internet so slow?
- 7 ways to be the most interesting person in any room
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- What the collapse of the Ming Dynasty can tell us about American decline
- Colorado’s new ‘drive high, get a DUI’ commercials are actually pretty clever
- 22 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 10 classic Sesame Street moments we wouldn't show today's kids
- Ukraine's fraught relationship with Russia: A brief history
- Who are the real gay marriage bigots?
- Sorry Belle Knox, porn still oppresses women
Subscribe to the Week