Last year, the Obama campaign promised to deliver a major speech on U.S.-Muslim relations in a Muslim capital during the president’s first year in office.
Last year, the Obama campaign promised to deliver a major speech on U.S.-Muslim relations in a Muslim capital during the president’s first year in office. Today, President Obama fulfills that promise by addressing the Turkish parliament. It’s a clever, multi-layered statement: Obama visits a capital in a majority-Muslim country as part of his first overseas trip as president; that trip is to Europe; speaking in Ankara implies that, as the Turks want, Muslim Turkey is part of Europe; and cooperation between the West and Islam is the proper order of things. “Some people have asked me if I chose to continue my travels to Ankara and Istanbul to send a message,” reads the text of his speech. “My answer is simple: Evet.” Yes.
That message is this:
I know there have been difficulties these last few years. I know that the trust that binds us has been strained, and I know that strain is shared in many places where the Muslim faith is practiced. Let me say this as clearly as I can: the United States is not at war with Islam. In fact, our partnership with the Muslim world is critical in rolling back a fringe ideology that people of all faiths reject.
But I also want to be clear that America’s relationship with the Muslim work cannot and will not be based on opposition to al Qaeda. Far from it. We seek broad engagement based upon mutual interests and mutual respect. We will listen carefully, bridge misunderstanding, and seek common ground. We will be respectful, even when we do not agree. And we will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over so many centuries to shape the world for the better – including my own country. The United States has been enriched by Muslim Americans. Many other Americans have Muslims in their family, or have lived in a Muslim-majority country – I know, because I am one of them.
Some corners of the right may see this as creeping dhimmitude, and yet it’s important to recognize that Obama is interpreting U.S.-Islamic relations the way Muslim leaders worldwide have wanted them interpreted — not restrained to a narrow counterterrorism issue, but a broadly-construed and enduring partnership of mutual respect. Yet that in itself has a counterterrorism component. al-Qaeda and other extremist groups prosper through the demonization of America fueled by American disrespect for the Muslim world — the invasion of Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib; and, less comfortably for the U.S., lopsided support for Israel over the Palestinians — and therefore, forthright displays of respect for Islam are themselves counterterrorism tools. No wonder Ayman Zawahiri had no way to confront the election of Barack Obama except by a self-parodic attempt at arguing he’s inauthentically American. An America that concedes legitimate Muslim objections to U.S. foreign policy — even when it doesn’t reshape its policies along the lines of Muslim grievances — makes no sense to him, and is a danger to his efforts at indoctrinating the next generation of extremists.
There’s been a conservative objection for a few years now that suggests that speeches like this obsequiously shy away from frank confrontations of the real differences between U.S. and Muslim interests. Stipulate that framework for the sake of argument. Obama’s Ankara speech still contained lines like “We must reject the use of terror, and recognize that Israel’s security concerns are legitimate” and “Iran’s leaders must choose whether they will try to build a weapon or build a better future for their people” and “We share the common goal of denying al-Qaeda a safe-haven in Pakistan or Afghanistan. The world has come too far to let this region backslide, and to let al Qaeda terrorists plot further attacks.” Those who portrayed Obama as recently pledging his fealty to Saudi King Abdullah won’t be persuaded by this, but they wouldn’t be persuaded by anything Obama says. But the Ankara speech shows that there is, in fact, a choice between domination and subservience, between perpetual war and dhimmitude: patient, respectful cooperation, and acting like great civilizations ought to act.
Giffords shooting leads nation to introspection and political finger wagging
In the wake of the shooting in Arizona this weekend that critically injured Rep.
EPA Administrator Addresses Concerns About Oil Spill Waste Management
At a hearing of the national oil spill commission today, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson addressed concerns about waste disposal from
E-Verify Mandate Begins Today
The Obama administration today begins implementation of a new mandate to require all federal contractors to check the legal status of their employees to confirm
EPA administrator defends allowing Florida to write its own water pollution rules
The EPA seal (Pic via sentryjournal.com) The Environmental Protection Agency has come under fire for its decision to allow the state of Florida to write its own water pollution rules (known as “numeric nutrient criteria”). EPA Regional Administrator Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming is now firing back, writing that the Agency commends the state Department of Environmental Protection for its draft of a proposed standard. A host of environmental groups filed suit in 2008, seeking to compel the EPA to implement a strict set of water pollution standards in Florida, arguing that the state was in violation of the Clean Water Act.
EPA administrator fires back at critics in op-ed
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson (Pic by USACEpublicaffairs, via Flickr) EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson penned a new op-ed for the Los Angeles Times , criticizing House Republicans desperately seeking to undermine the authority of the agency they have dubbed a “job killer.” Arguing that the environment affects red states and blue states alike, Jackson writes that “it is time for House Republicans to stop politicizing our air and water.” As head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Jackson has faced harsh criticism from House Republicans and GOP presidential candidates who say the agency’s regulations are an undue burden on businesses that have to cut jobs simply to comply with clean water and air rules. Presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann has pledged to end the EPA if she takes office. “Since the beginning of this year, Republicans in the House have averaged roughly a vote every day the chamber has been in session to undermine the Environmental Protection Agency and our nation’s environmental laws,” writes Jackson.
EPA administrator says federal nutrient criteria is a ‘myth’
In testimony given late last week, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said that false accusations about her agency’s numeric nutrient criteria to govern Florida waterways are proving to be a detriment to their implementation. # Testifying before the House Agriculture Committee, Jackson said her agency’s work was often “mischaracterized” and addressed several myths surrounding its work
EPA announces hold on nutrient standards if Florida can come up with own criteria
The EPA announced today that it is now prepared to withdraw a portion of its proposed numeric nutrient criteria (a set of standards governing water pollution in inland waters) and delay the portion related to estuarine waters, to allow the state Department of Environmental Protection to develop its own criteria. # From a statement released by the EPA earlier today: # EPA recognizes that states have the primary role in establishing and implementing water quality standards for their waters. Therefore, EPA is prepared to withdraw the federal inland standards and delay the estuarine standards if FDEP adopts, and EPA approves, their own protective and scientifically sound numeric standards
EPA Analysis Says Climate Bill’s Cost for Households Would Be ‘Modest’
All the attention on the energy front today is going to the BP spill, but the Environmental Protection Agency quietly released its long-anticipated analysis of
EPA and California Near Deal on Fuel Efficiency Standards
Two weeks ago, the Obama administration raised fuel efficiency standards by an average of two miles per gallon -- a modest change that disappointed some