According to Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, the short anti-Muhammad video supposedly made by filmmaker Sam Bacile isn’t the primary cause of the ongoing violence and anti-American unrest in the Middle East.
In an appearance on Friday’s “Hannity” on the Fox News Channel, Krauthammer downplayed White House spokesman Jay Carney’s insistence that the video is at fault for the turmoil. Instead, he blamed America’s weak policy posture.
“[Saying that] this has nothing to do with us or our policies, [that] it’s about a video, is either willfully obtuse or simply clueless,” Krauthammer said. “What has happened is, as you pointed out, beginning with the Cairo speech, Obama changed American policy on the theory that the reason that people hated us was because we were tough. They hated us because of Iraq. They hated us because of Guantanamo. They hated us because of the torture — he used the word, he accuses his own country abroad of torturing.”
“And he was now apologizing and promising to change course,” he continued. “We would no longer be tough. We would be loved. We would show compassion. And we would get out of Iraq. He set a deadline for Afghanistan. He doesn’t support the Green Revolution in Iran. He shows the Ayatollahs tremendous respect. He essentially protects them when they are under attack. He gets nowhere on the Iran nuclear issue. He is equivocal uncertain during the Arab Spring. He leads from behind in Libya. The theory was if we go soft, if we are very nice, if we say ‘Assalamu alaikum,’ enough times, everything will be all right. And what he decided is, the way to do that, the theory and therefore the practice is going to be, retreat and withdraw. Remember the line he uses? The tide of war is receding.”
Krauthammer said American interests were threatened because the president’s policies have created a power vacuum that radical Muslims have jumped to fill.
“That means the tide of American power is receding,” Krauthammer said. “And the reason that American interests, embassies, schools, businesses are aflame throughout the Middle East from Tunis all the way to South Asia is because things don’t happen in a vacuum. And when you withdraw the power and the influence of the strongest country on earth from a region, the vacuum will be filled. What we are seeing now is the Salafists, the Islamists, understanding this is their opening, America is in retreat. The tide of America is retreating in the region. And they are now going to fill the gap.”
The Egyptian response to the ongoing crisis should determine whether the United States continues giving financial assistance to the country, which is increasingly dominated by religious radicals, according to Krauthammer.
“Look, I don’t think the issue right now is foreign aid. If [Mohamed] Morsi, the president of Egypt, doesn’t cooperate, doesn’t support our embassies, protect our embassies and doesn’t honor the peace treaty with Israel, there is already trouble in the Sinai [Peninsula] — then I think you withdraw the aid,” Krauthammer said. “You got to be very careful, now. The vacuum is already been created. The trouble is already at hand. American enemies are right on the move, everywhere as we can see. Right now, our hand is very much weakened because of the three years of Obama policy. At this point, you don’t want to make it worse by — you know a move that is reactive and too fast. You withdraw all of our aid today, and we have no leverage. What you do is you portion it out depending on how they act.”
Krauthammer noted that the U.S. risks irrelevance on the international stage if it continues “leading from behind.”
“But the problem is this, pro-American elements in the region, look around — there is no America anymore,” Krauthammer said. “I will give you one example. Does anybody care about what we think about Syria — the major country in Mesopotamia? Does anybody act what Obama’s view? No. They want to know what the Russians are doing, the Iranians and Hezbollah. These are the active players. And that’s what happens when America withdraws its power and its influence. We’ve become irrelevant.”