Obama and the Arabs: Diplomacy or Homogeneity?

Consider these facts: Barack Obama is the first president in history to directly address the Muslim world in an Inaugural Address. His first phone call to a foreign head of state was to the Palestinian Authority’s Ahmoud Abbas. And now comes word that the honor of his first sit down interview as president goes to Al-Arabiya, self-described as “the leading news channel in the Arab world.”

With all of the issues vying for action by the President, both foreign and domestic, why has Obama made a priority of communicating with the Muslim world this early and this often in his first week as President? Certainly the Middle East conflict requires the attention of the United States, but why has this president chosen to enter that process by speaking first with the party the United States has historically viewed as the instigator of the conflict?

The media would answer the question by suggesting that the ‘cowboy diplomacy’ of George W. Bush has tarnished America’s image in the Arab world, therefore Obama can waste no time reaching out to them in an effort to restore our credibility. Never mind that the ‘Bush Doctrine’ actually liberated 50 million people in the Muslim world. Pay no attention to the fact that young girls and women are now being educated in Afghanistan because President Bush took decisive action to root out the oppressive Taliban regime there.

Rather than use his interview with Arab television to point the Arab world to the positive results America has achieved for them, President Obama used this opportunity to throw America under the bus. If you actually heard his interview with Al-Arabiya, it would be difficult to conclude that President Obama did anything other than point to America as the source of the problem in the Arab world rather than a collaborator with them in finding a solution.

The interview wasn’t into its first two minutes before Obama tells the Arab interviewer that when it comes to the on-going Arab-Israeli conflict in Gaza, the United States acts more like a dictator who doesn’t listen and is ignorant of the issues.

“…what I told (Special Envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell) is start by listening, because all too often the 
United States starts by dictating — in the past on some of these issues –and we don’t always know all the factors that are involved.”

It’s all down hill from there, with President Obama later implying that the United States hasn’t been respectful in its treatment of the Muslim world:

“Now, my job is to communicate the fact that the United States has a stake in the well-being of the Muslim world that the language we use has to be a language of respect.”

He also implied that the American people have a prejudiced view of Muslims, owing to the attacks of September 11, and therefore do not understand the Muslim world.

“…my job is to communicate to the American people that the Muslim world is filled with extraordinary people who simply want to live their lives and see their children live better lives.”

But what should be of utmost concern to Americans is the way Obama redefined the priorities of the President:

“And I think that what you will see over the next several years is that I’m not going to agree with everything that some Muslim leader may say, or what’s on a television station in the Arab world — but I think that what you’ll see is somebody who is listening, who is respectful, and who is trying to promote the interests not just of the United States, but also ordinary people who right now are suffering from poverty and a lack of opportunity. I want to make sure that I’m speaking to them, as well.”

Obama believes that equal to the interests of the United States, the president must also promote the interests of “ordinary people” in the Muslim world. This is a radical departure from the president’s oath to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” The President isn’t the president of the world, or even limited constituencies within the world. He is President of the United States and nothing is equal to his constitutional responsibilities to the people of this country.

President Obama seems to think himself uniquely qualified to address the Muslim world because he has lived among them:

“I have Muslim members of my family. I have lived in Muslim countries…the largest one, Indonesia.”

Some have even questioned whether or not he is one of them. When his Muslim father enrolled him in school in Indonesia he recorded Barack’s religion as “Islam.” In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos during the campaign Obama referred to “my Muslim faith.” The media wrote it off as “a slip of the tongue.”

Throughout his campaign for president Obama insisted that he was a Christian, and the American people took him at his word. But so what if President Obama really is a Muslim? America is a pluralistic society that guarantees the freedom of religion as a fundamental right. The “so what” may have just been answered in this interview.

After hearing the American president speak in negative tones about his country to the largest Arab television audience in the world, it is fair to ask whether or not this president sees protecting the interests of his country as his first priority or those of his homogeneity.

Is it possible that Obama’s haste to speak with the Muslim world has more to do with his affinity with them than it does America’s supposed marred image among them? The Al-Arabiya interview leaves one wondering if Obama’s foreign policy isn’t influenced by his view that it is he and Muslims against the United States.

7 thoughts on “Obama and the Arabs: Diplomacy or Homogeneity?

  1. Oh and on Iran, Ahmedinejad is a tool. That guy stays in power by generating fear. He’s not very popular anymore. If he can’t keep fear stoked, he’s done and he knows it.

  2. So I read the interview that you linked, he’s very specific about his conversion experience. His altar call, accepting Christ, etc. and he talks very specifically about it. However, he does have a skeptic’s view of Christianity.

    What he specifically says about Jesus is, “he’s also a bridge between God and man, in the Christian faith, and one that I think is powerful precisely because he serves as that means of us reaching something higher.” Taken out of context, the line you quote sounds different.

    He actually doesn’t say that he doesn’t pray or read his bible. Actual quote:

    Have you read the bible?


    I read it not as regularly as I would like. These days I don’t have much time for reading or reflection, period.

    Do you try to take some time for whatever, meditation prayer reading?

    I’ll be honest with you, I used to all the time, in a fairly disciplined way. But during the course of this campaign, I don’t

    So he’s basically guilty of what most Christians are guilty of. Laziness or letting the outside world take more precedence than it should. Hardly a damnable offense.

    Now, this quote is troubling certainly:

    “There’s the belief, certainly in some quarters, that people haven’t embraced Jesus Christ as their personal savior that they’re going to hell.

    You don’t believe that?

    I find it hard to believe that my God would consign four-fifths of the world to hell.

    I can’t imagine that my God would allow some little Hindu kid in India who never interacts with the Christian faith to somehow burn for all eternity.”

    However, I think this is an issue that most if not all Christians have and should struggle with. I think that’s a very difficult concept to swallow, if we believe in a loving and caring God.

    So while he may not be theologically on the same page as you, do any of these things disqualify his salvation? If he’s had a conversion experience, asked Jesus for forgiveness and so on and so forth? I don’t believe so.

  3. Actually Obama has said pretty specifically that he is a Christian and that his faith in Jesus is his Salvation. Here’s a quote from an interview he did in Christianity Today over a year ago:

    “I am a Christian, and I am a devout Christian. I believe in the redemptive death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe that that faith gives me a path to be cleansed of sin and have eternal life.”

    The full interview is here and is a great read: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/januaryweb-only/104-32.0.html

    Fact of the matter is that the talk of him being a Muslim is ridiculous.

    Also, I think him making an immediate effort to reach out to those who would see themselves as our enemies is I think going to be much more effective than occupation of another country or constant threats. I think it’s alot easier to get along with someone that you try and be friends with, rather than someone who is constantly threatening you or forcing themselves into your space.

  4. Gosh guys have you learned yet? This us verses them causes these terrorist attacks, you need to all shut out the aggression and work towards diplomacy, yes you might tell me that this is going to go nowhere, but it’s another step towards a peace that GOD wants for us. I just want to ask you. Do you know why they want to kill Americans? There is a big, big reason why. Obama can help TRUE AMERICANS that want to LISTEN, to understand the Muslim world and be able to create bridges of peace with us, Israel, and the Muslim World. Read real books from unbiased (real neo-con christian and jewish) authors to figure this out.

  5. Honestly, I don’t see anything in Obama’s interview that I would disagree with.

    1.) He is calling for greater understanding and peace with people in the Muslim world. While I don’t necessarilly think they always have peace in their interest, I certainly think that in a post-9/11 world, we’ve turned Muslims into villains. I don’t believe their religion is valid, but neither do I think there is Truth in Judaism, Wicca, Buddhism or others. We don’t consider them our enemies. I don’t see what’s wrong with starting to dialogue with both sides of the conflict…especially because we musn’t believe Israel is always in the right or that we always have an obligation to back them up no matter what they do.

    2.) This is where I get a tad frustrated with ideologies Obama says we are supposed to care about the well-being of people throughout the world (I dont’ think he just meant the Muslim world). And I agree that the United States, as the world’s superpower, must concern itself with the concerns of people in dire straights across the world–I would prefer if we began at the most lower-level 3rd World nations and work up, but whatever. And yes, I do understand that his first concern is his electorate…that help should not come at the expense of the well-being and necessity of the American people, although I believe that means making us able to survive and work, not live in luxury or be overly-prosperous. But here’s where the caution is, and this is where my frustration lies:

    Bush invades Iraq and says that we must provide freedom and democracy to the people of Iraq. Democrats respond by saying we are not the world’s policemen and Bush is not President of the world; Conservatives say we have an obligation to secure freedom and, particularly, democracy. Now, Obama says that we must be concerned about fostering understanding with Muslim nations and concerned about the well-being of people all over the world. Now Repubicans say that we are not the world’s caregivers and Obama is not President of the World; democrats say we have an understanding to secure peace and understanding. Both sides show their hypocrisy in this, reducing issues of humanity and well-being into politics.

    3.) Paul, you gotta give the Muslim thing a rest. I’m sure Obama has been heavily-vetted and I don’t think a Democratic committee would have backed him if they knew he was a Muslim…and he has adamently denied it (we were supposed to take Bush at his word about statements he made…why do we take Bush at his word and not Obama?). Personally, I think Obama is a “christian,” not a “Christian.” I think he has grown up in the judeo-Christian belief system and attended a Christian church. But I don’t believe he has ever once talked about the exclusivity of salvation by grace alone through faith alone. I think he’s a “whateverist,” just like most politicians are–whatever religion works.

  6. God wrote the Word (moral code) on men’s hearts (Gentiles) especially. Romans 2:14-15

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