The Dream of Muslim Outreach Has
Become a Nightmare
By Victor Davis Hanson
July 21, 2016
When President Obama entered
office, he dreamed that his hope-and-change messaging and his references to his
familial Islamic roots would win over the Muslim world. The soon-to-be Nobel
Peace Prize laureate would make the U.S. liked in the Middle East. Then,
terrorism would decrease.
But, as with his approach to
racial relations, Obama’s remedies proved worse than the original illness.
Obama gave his first presidential
interview to Al Arabiya, noting that he has Muslims in his family. He implicitly
blamed America’s strained relations with many Middle Eastern countries on his
supposedly insensitive predecessor, George W. Bush.
The new message of the Obama
administration was that the Islamic world was understandably hostile because of
what America had done rather than what it represented.
Accordingly, all mention of
radical Islam, and even the word “terrorism,” was airbrushed from the new
administration’s vocabulary. Words to describe terrorism or the fight against
it were replaced by embarrassing euphemisms like “overseas contingency
operations,” “man-caused disaster,” and “workplace violence.”
In apology tours and mythological
speeches, Obama exaggerated Islamic history as often as he critiqued America. He
backed the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. He pushed America away from Israel,
appeased Iran, and tried to piggyback on the Arab Spring by bombing Libya. He
even lectured Christians on their past pathologies dating back to the Crusades.
Yet Obama’s outreach was still
interpreted by Islamists as guilt and weakness to be exploited rather than
magnanimity to be reciprocated. Terrorist attacks increased. Obama blamed them
on a lack of gun control or generic “violent extremism.”
Careerist toadies in government
parroted the party-line message and even tried to outdo their politically
Former Homeland Security Secretary
Janet Napolitano focused on returning veterans as terrorist risks. Obama and
Secretary of State John Kerry said that global warming, not the Islamic State,
was the real threat. NASA administrator Charles Bolden said the president asked
him to make Muslim outreach a top priority for the agency. CIA director John
Brennan said that jihad “is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam.”
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper opined that the Muslim
Brotherhood was largely secular.
The president often blamed the
detention facility at Guantanamo Bay for needlessly provoking Islam. Obama said
that terrorist dangers were no more deadly than falls in bathtubs. He wrote off
the Islamic State as an inept jayvee squad, assuring that they posed no
existential threat. He campaigned on the premise that al-Qaeda was on the run.
Obama pulled all troops out of Iraq, which instantly degenerated into chaos.
Obama kept insisting that guns,
not Islamic terrorists, were the real danger — even as assassins used bombs
from Boston to Paris, knives from California to Oklahoma, and, most recently, a
truck to run over innocents in Nice, France.
Intelligence and law-enforcement
agencies got the message and worried more about charges of “Islamophobia”
than preempting deadly terrorist attacks. Authorities had either interviewed and
then ignored the Boston, Fort Hood, San Bernardino, and Orlando terrorists, or
they had blindly ignored their brazen social-media threats.
There was never cause for such
Radical Islam never had legitimate
grievances against the West. America and Europe had welcomed in Muslim
immigrants — even as Christians were persecuted and driven out of the Middle
Billions of dollars in American
aid still flows to Islamic countries. The U.S. spent untold blood and treasure
freeing Kuwait and later the Shiites of Iraq from Saddam Hussein. America tried
to save Afghanistan from the Soviets and later from the Taliban.
For over a half-century, the West
paid jacked-up prices for OPEC oil — even as the U.S. Navy protected Persian
Gulf sea lanes to ensure lucrative oil profits for Gulf-state monarchies.
Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri,
the original architects of al-Qaeda, were so desperate to find grievances
against the West that in their written diatribes they had to invent fantasies of
Jews walking in Mecca. In Michael Moore fashion, they laughably whined about
America’s lack of campaign-finance reform and Western culpability for global
The real problem is that Islamic
terrorism feeds off the self-induced failures of the Middle East. Jihadists try
to convince the Arab street that returning to religious fundamentalism and
exporting jihad will empower Muslims to recapture lost primacy over a decadent
and guilty West, just as in the mythical glory days of the caliphate.
In truth, religious intolerance,
gender apartheid, illiteracy, autocracy, statism, tribalism, and religious
fundamentalism all guarantee poverty, economic stagnation, and scapegoating.
While much of Asia and Latin America progressed through reform, the Middle East
blame-gamed its miseries on affluent Western nations and on Israel.
More disturbing, millions of
Middle Easterners fled to the safety of Europe and the United States — but on
occasion, only to resist assimilation and show ingratitude once they got there.
In short, the dreamy Obama
approach to terrorism has proved a nightmare — and it is not over yet.