President Obama’s major speech delivered in Cairo is now a matter of history. His 6000-word address will of course be subject to much debate and discussion for some time to come. It is not my intention here to offer an exhaustive analysis of it, but to simply highlight a few points which seem to be of real concern. These initial impressions will likely be followed up by more in-depth analysis in future articles.
Let me begin by stating the obvious. Diplomacy and talk are always preferable to aggression and war. Learning to understand one another and seeking to get along is always a worthwhile aim – within limits of course. But when differences between nations or belief systems or worldviews exist, it is most important that those differences are clearly recognized and not swept under the carpet.
Genuine cooperation and peace must be based on reality, not illusion, or nice intentions. Knowing about the differences which divide us must be the beginning point of any dialogue and discussion. To pretend that no differences exist helps no one.
To simply seek to get along for the sake of getting along, without acknowledging fundamental differences of worldviews, belief systems and values is a recipe for disaster. Indeed, the attempt to achieve peace at any cost can often be extremely reckless and costly.
And history should be our guide here. We should all be aware of how certain past attempts at appeasement have ended in disaster. The classic example of course involves Chamberlain and Hitler. To avoid war and to try to broker peace, English leadership thought they could strike a deal with Hitler and keep the world from plunging into war.
In September 1938 the British Prime Minister met with Hitler and signed a peace treaty with him. He returned home proclaiming “peace for our time”. Of course in March 1939 Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia, and the rest is history.
Others, including Winston Churchill, had warned about going down this path. Indeed, this is what Churchill said about the Munich Agreement in the House of Commons:
We have suffered a total and unmitigated defeat…you will find that in a period of time which may be measured by years, but may be measured by months, Czechoslovakia will be engulfed in the Nazi régime. We are in the presence of a disaster of the first magnitude…we have sustained a defeat without a war, the consequences of which will travel far with us along our road…we have passed an awful milestone in our history, when the whole equilibrium of Europe has been deranged, and that the terrible words have for the time being been pronounced against the Western democracies: ‘Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting’. And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.
He was absolutely right. This foolish attempt at appeasement was a very costly mistake, with millions of lives lost as a result. And one has to ask whether Obama is not heading down a similar path here. Sure, most Muslims may well desire peace, but we are dealing with a religion, a worldview, an ideology, and a political/social structure which may not be so amenable to peace.
Obama’s speech was very much in the tradition of Chamberlain. It was all about moral equivalence. “Yes, a few Muslim extremists give Islam a bad name, and sometimes Muslims do bad things, but we are no different here. Americans have also done bad things, so who are we to judge?”
That seems to be the sort of thinking which undergirds his talk. America is no better or no worse than Muslim-majority nations. So instead of dealing with the greatest form of terrorism today, Islamic terrorism, he goes on about “violent extremism in all its forms”. As if America is on a par with al-Qaida in this regard.
Consider one glaring paragraph in the Obama speech: “I’ve come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap and share common principles, principles of justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.” He says similar things elsewhere. Consider this gem: “The fifth issue that we must address together is religious freedom. Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance.”
Tolerance? Dignity of all human beings? Progress? Is he really being serious here? Has Obama ever in fact actually read the entire Koran? Is he familiar with the Hadith? Had he studied the history of Islamic expansionism? Is he even remotely aware of the tremendous persecution of Christians today in so many Muslim lands?
Try telling this foolishness to the many grieving families who lost loved ones as they sought to leave Islam. Try telling this to the millions of dhimmis or second class citizens who live in Muslim-majority nations. Try telling this to most Muslim women. Try telling this to those who do not submit to Allah. Try telling this to Salmon Rushdie, Danish cartoonists, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Theo van Gogh, and millions of other victims of Islamic tolerance.
How can Obama even suggest that the US and Islam share fundamental core values? There is no such common ground at all. One system – with all of its faults – promotes democracy, rule of law, separation of church and state, religious freedom, freedom of conscience, a free and independent media, and so on. The other system rejects all of these fundamental values, and only in a handful of Muslim nations can these blessings of the West be found – and only in limited degrees.
Obama is living in a world of make believe, just as Chamberlain was. Both were so keen to achieve peace at any price that they have to flee from reality in order to seek to achieve an illusory calm. But it is simply the calm before the storm. Whitewashing major differences helps no one. Or rather, it greatly assists the Islamists in their process of world-wide domination, of the universal spread of sharia law, and the submission of the entire world to Islamic theocracy.
It certainly does not help the free West. But history has already warned us about taking such a dangerous course. The only question is, have we learned from the lessons of history, or are we doomed to repeat history’s mistakes?