I'm nearly through "Audacity of Hope" and got to have a conversation with my son on Iraq last night. I was struck how closely both he and Obama's view 100% reflect the mass media view:
1). Islam is a religion of peace, we have nothing to fear from Islam
2). Radicalization is all due to US and other Western involvement in the mideast. If we would leave them alone, there would be no issues.
3). Bush is as fault for making us far less secure, if there should be any problems in the future, they will be due to the war in Iraq
I look at those points and think of my view of current events:
1). We were attacked on 9/11 less then 8 full months since Bush took office, yet we have not been attacked since. Therefore we are LESS safe and if we are attacked in the future our best way to understand that will be just "it is Bush's fault"?
2). Obama mentions the attack on Bali in 2002 (he spent time in Indonesia in his youth). He also mentions that Indonesia is increasingly Muslim, and yes, it his thesis that us going on offense in Iraq has made us less safe. Did Bali send in troops?
3). Obama makes the claim that "in Cairo Muslims prayed for the US after 9/11" in concert with trying to both praise the immediate handling of 9/11 in the book and yet criticize it. (apparently the core of "Audacity of Hope" is to claim to be on all sides of an issue yet reflexively take the most far left position in each case and call it "moderate"). He completely fails to mention that in MANY places they danced in the streets celebrating "death to America" as well. Since 9-11 we have had Al Quaeda bombings Bali, Spain and Britan. We have waited in vain for the so-called "modertate Muslims" to rise up and decry the "hi-jacking of their religion by radical forces against the will of Allah".
We have however had some Danish cartoons that depicted Allah with a bomb in his turban and comments by the Pope that cited writings from the 14th century on the spreading of Islam by the sword. In both these cases the "Arab street" as well as Arab leadership acted quickly and loudly with violence and death threats, and in the Danish case, someone associated with the cartoonist was actually murdered.
What I personally conclude from this is:
1). There is absolutely zero evidence that at least modern Islam is a "religion of peace". There has been very close to zero outcry from the Arab street against Al Quaeda supposedly "hijacking their religion", yet loud demonstrations, statements and actual violence and threats of violence over cartoons and very non-inflamatory rhetoric in the case of the Pope. The "Arab Street" is paying attention, they "see" cartoons and comments by the Pope and react with anger and violence. They ALSO see attacks in Spain, Bali and Britain, yet even in this country their are no "moderate Muslim voices" that decry those attacks and certainly no "Arab Street" rising up to decry the "hijacking of their peaceful Religion". I can only conclude that Muslims are NOT offended by the use of violence in their name.
2). Even a cursory reading of Muslim history will lead you to a "House of Peace and a House of War". Look at WHY the Crusades started by looking at Moorish Spain and what was happening in the world at the time before you you come to the conclusion that all of the modern problems can be traced to "historical western meddling". The core of liberal foreign policy theology is "we don't really need to defend ourselves since all things that look like threats are really just "blowback", so as long as we stop using any military force globally we will be fine". I'd argue that the evidence that the evidence of "Balian Imperialism" is limited. Bali didn't even have a lot to do with the Crusades or the creation of hated Israel. Unlike Obama and the masses, I conclude that Muslims see "innocent infidel" as a complete oxymoron, and are perfectly willing to see plenty of "collateral damage" of Muslims killed in bombings and the WTC attack as well.
3). Muslims mean what I hear them saying. We are infidels and unless we bow to the will of Allah in matters as small as cartoons, speech (the Pope) and the treatment of women, we are in the "house of war".
So, I guess either Obama and the masses are wrong or I am. That is OK, I'll just keep reading, writing and observing. What I find most disconcerting from Obama about this is not the unwillingness to recognize any lessons from the bombings in Bali that affected him since he was familiar with the hotel that was bombed, but his pre-emptive view that the "Bush adventure in Iraq" increases the threat of violence against us. Bali was not in Iraq, yet they were attacked. We have NOT been attacked since 9/11, and we have been in Iraq since March of 2003. How is it observationally correct to conclude that going on offense against Al Quaeda is counterproductive? WORSE, at least my reading him, one would assume that if we ARE attacked in the future it will be written off as "Bush's fault". When we were attacked in 2001 was that Clinton's fault?