Monday, June 22, 2009
Obama in Cairo
"Why should the president of the [US] address the 'Muslim world', as Barack Obama will do in Egypt this Thursday? What would happen if the leader of a big country addressed the 'Christian world'? ... There is no 'Christian world' to address because Christianity has become a private religion of personal conscience. ... What does it mean, though, to address the 'Muslim world'? ... Muslim religious authority is exercised ad hoc. The quasi-animist Islam of Sumatra and the Wahhabi Islam of Saudi Arabia have about as much in common as Midwest Methodists and Nigerian Pentecostals. ... No denomination of Islam will abandon its pretensions at official status, and all aspire to world power. ... To address this aspiration is to breathe life into it. For an American president to validate such an aspiration is madness. America is not at war with Islam, unless, that is, Islam were to take a political form that threatens America's global interests. ... And if the [Arab-Israeli issue] is religious in origin, what specifically makes the conflict religious? If it really were the case that the Israelis and the Palestinian Arabs are fighting over religious matters, then the theological Muslim position is the one represented by Hamas in Palestine and Hezbollah in Lebanon, namely that a Jewish state on territory once held by the ummah (Muslim community) is an outrage to Islam and never can be accepted. ... Excluding the unlikely possibility that Obama will declare himself to be a Muslim and claim religious authority in matters affecting Muslims everywhere, [ordering Muslims to accept the existence of the state of Israel] that is not going to happen in Cairo this Thursday. ... As a matter of national interest, many Muslim-majority countries may seek peaceful and even friendly relations with the Jewish state, irrespective of what the dictates of Islamic theology might be. Rather than addressing nations with national interest, though, Obama is addressing Muslims, over the heads as it were of the majority-Muslim nation states. ... No Muslim religious authority in Asia or Africa can or will rule that Islam can tolerate a Jewish state in Palestine with its capital in Jerusalem. ... A gauge of the absurdity of an American president addressing 'the Muslim world' was the difficulty in finding a venue for Thursday's speech. ... There is a way to rescue the situation, which I now propose to Obama in good faith: change the venue to New Delhi. ... Muslims around the world should look to India as an example of moderation and co-existence. Of all the available bad choices, Obama has taken the worst. It is hard to imagine any consequence except a steep diminution of American influence", original italics, my emphasis, Spengler, 1 June 2009, at: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/KF02Ak05.html.
War Story 1. In 1991 I was at the home of a friend of a friend. Coincidentally, the friend and every person in the room but me was Moslem. Someone commented about a newspaper story which criticized the Pope. They were amazed when I said we can print such stuff here. We have no blasphemy laws. Each of the six or seven Moslems present was a college graduate and US citizen. Still they thought we have blasphemy laws. I suppose they're correct when it comes to criticizing his Obamaness. War Story 2. Shortly after 9/11 in 2001, I ate in an Iranian restaurant on Ventura Boulevard in Encino, CA. I had eaten there about once every three weeks for about three years before 9/11. I liked eating there. The proprietor comes to me, almost in tears and says, "we're not terrorists. We're peaceful. We mean no harm". I looked at him and said, "we're not you. We're not barbarians here. Stop projecting what you believe would happen to Americans in Iran if the situation was reversed. No one can fortell the future. But I'll bet with 99% certainty, that nothing will happen to you, nor will anyone burn this restaurant down. Wait six months. See. This is not Iran. This is not Saudi Arabia". And so the proprietor's amazement, nothing happened! I referred to the Islamic Brezhnev doctrine on 13 December 2008, link: http://skepticaltexascpa.blogspot.com/2008/12/americocentric-projection.html. I love Spengler, but disagree that Obama chose the worst venue. He could have gone to Tehran and alienated the Sunni world. Worse, he could have gone to Karbala in Iraq, a Shiite Holy site.