Four years of appeasement are finally paying off. The Obama administration apologized for a movie that no reasonable, intelligent person could take seriously. The apology served as an invitation to attack our embassies. And it predictably led to the demand that we prosecute the movie’s producers for “hate speech.”
Our embassy in Cairo accused the producers of the movie of abusing “the universal right of free speech.” They could more credibly be accused of abusing their video recording equipment. The movie looks more like a spoof than a dangerous propaganda film. While the Obama administration is quick to detect “religious incitement” when it is directed at Muslims, it’s not sure what to think of an angry mob that tears down our flag and replaces it with the black flag of al Qaida.
Within hours our consulate in Libya was also attacked and our ambassador and three consulate staff members were killed. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued yet another apology: “The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.” President Obama echoed this view.
In other words, Secretary Clinton and President Obama excused the violence before they condemned it.
It’s no coincidence that the attacks erupted on the anniversary of the World Trade Center massacre. The attacks were clearly planned. And by rushing to apologize for the movie “Innocence of Muslims,” the administration provided a convenient pretext.
President Obama believes that if we apologize enough times our enemies will become our friends. Similarly, President Carter repeatedly tried to end the Iran hostage crisis by offering what author Mark Bowden called “minor but humiliating concessions.” It didn’t work then, and it isn’t working now.
Like Jimmy Carter, President Obama believes we should stop acting like the leader of the free world. We should work through the U.N. whenever possible. We should avoid acting unilaterally. And we should appease our enemies. Carter threw Taiwan under the bus in order to establish relations with the People’s Republic of China. Obama turned down Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s meeting request and then invited Egypt’s President Morsi — a longtime member of the Muslim Brotherhood — to the White House.
Like Jimmy Carter, Obama believes that economic sanctions are a substitute for the credible threat of military action. However, Iran’s leaders have made it clear that they don’t care how much their people suffer from economic sanctions. President Obama is content to watch Iran make steady progress toward a nuclear weapon. Meanwhile, like Carter he believes the best way to promote peace is to reduce our military strength.
Jimmy Carter achieved a cold peace between Egypt and Israel — based not on mutual respect but a one-sided “land for peace” deal. Now that very peace threatens to unravel thanks to President Obama’s support for the “Arab Spring.” Nowhere has the Arab Spring led to genuine democracy. But it has emboldened jihadists.
Instead of rushing to condemn a movie trailer on YouTube, the Obama administration should try standing up for our principles. One of those principles is freedom of speech. But there can be no meaningful freedom of speech unless it includes the right to offend. While the Obama administration has been backpedaling on free speech, our enemies have been busy passing U.N. resolutions condemning “defamation of religion.” (The late word is that the administration has rediscovered freedom of speech — after scolding Mitt Romney for having pointed it out.)
President Obama’s foreign policy is based on the belief that America is just one member of the family of nations — that we have no right to pose as the champion of liberty. The only problem is that the rest of the world knows that we are the freest, most prosperous nation in world history. That makes us their target, and our pretending otherwise does not change that.
It’s ironic that in the post-9/11 world Muslims are quick to take offense at what they perceive as expressions of disrespect for Islam and often respond with violence or threats of violence. By apologizing for a silly movie, President Obama set off a chain reaction. To bring the situation back under control, we must do precisely the things that he believes made them hate us in the first place. We must replace the power vacuum that he worked so hard to create. And we must let the world know that we — not our enemies — occupy the moral high ground.
It’s worth remembering that Iran released the embassy hostages minutes after Ronald Reagan was sworn into office in 1981. President Obama may not see the obvious lesson in that, but there certainly is one for U.S. voters.
Ira Brodsky is a writer based in St. Louis, Missouri.