What should good conservatives, who believe in peace and humility, make of Obama’s Cairo University speech? Who knows? It was good on peace, though perhaps low on humility.
We should first acknowledge its considerable merits as a speech. It was well-constructed and well-judged. And the falsely modest line that “no single speech can eradicate years of mistrust” was rather clever, I thought.
It was, in essence, a sophisticated piece of cross-cultural triangulation. He acknowledged America’s sins, which is not a crime; while challenging Muslims to confront terror. He presented the case for war on terror as well as anyone could, especially when he said,
Make no mistake: we do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We seek no military bases there. It is agonizing for America to lose our young men and women. It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict. We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can. But that is not yet the case.
But one can’t help feeling uneasy when the establishment media is so predictably effusive. The voices on NPR this morning were gushing about about Obama exporting “hope to the Muslim world.” That seems unbearably naive and patronizing, even dangerous. What happens when those Muslim hopes are dashed?
Still, it would be equally foolish to ignore the potential benefits of improved “dialogue” with various Muslim nations, no matter how irritating that woolly word may be.