President Obama on Wednesday delivered a speech at the United Nations filled with his usual soaring rhetoric of global collectivism and the importance of “international norms.” But the president also displayed a shocking naivete about global affairs, religion, Islam — a Pollyannaish interpretation on the state of the world and America’s role in it.
Although Mr. Obama won a Nobel Peace Prize just eight months into office, the president made his annual trip to the ineffectual world council to deliver a call to war. “Ladies and gentlemen, we come together at a crossroads between war and peace, between disorder and integration, between fear and hope.”
Of course he waxed poetic about “climate change” and the promise of “the children,” but the president was forced to devote the bulk of his speech to what he called the “heart of darkness” and the “cancer of violent extremism.”
He said upon opening his remarks that “the shadow of world war that existed at the founding of this institution has been lifted.” He couldn’t be more wrong. A true man of peace worthy of the Nobel Prize, Pope Francis, said just the opposite this month in remarkably astute comments to commemorate the anniversary of World War I.
“Even today, after the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a third war, one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction,” the pope said, summing up the conflicts in Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, Israel, Gaza and much of northern Africa, including Libya and Tunisia, not to mention Somalia.
To Mr. Obama, there’s no global conflict of ideology, just “pervasive unease in our world.” To him, the strife is merely the “failure of our international system to keep pace with an interconnected world.” And to him, “it is one of the tasks of all great religions to accommodate devout faith with a modern, multicultural world.”
He asked delegates from nations across the world to mull this “central question of our global age: Whether we will solve our problems together, in a spirit of mutual interest and mutual respect, or whether we descend into the destructive rivalries of the past.”
His answer? “It’s time for a broader negotiation in the region in which major powers address their differences directly, honestly, and peacefully across the table from one another, rather than through gun-wielding proxies.”
Simply believing something doesn’t make it so. The president’s desire for a world in which nations talk openly about their true feelings, perhaps share a good cry together, and sing kumbaya around the campfire, is the height of naivete.
So is this passage of his speech: ” … the United States is not and never will be at war with Islam. Islam teaches peace. Muslims the world over aspire to live with dignity and a sense of justice. And when it comes to America and Islam, there is no us and them, there is only us.”
But Islam and the holy Koran on which Muslim militant groups like al Qaeda and the Islamic State base their actions do call for the extermination of all who do not follow Islam, do demand that followers kill anyone who leaves the religion, do subjugate women. For the record, the Koran contains more than 100 verses that call Muslims to war with nonbelievers.
Mr. Obama said in his speech that “all people of faith have a responsibility to lift up the value at the heart of all great religions: Do unto thy neighbor as you would do — you would have done unto yourself.” But that is not a cornerstone of Islam. Militant Muslims have a very different belief: “Fight in the name of your religion with those who disagree with you.” And that edict comes straight from their holiest book.
To the president, that ideology “will wilt and die if it is consistently exposed and confronted and refuted in the light of day.” Again, the callowness is astounding. While he urged the world, “especially Muslim communities,” to reject the ideology that underlies al Qaeda and the Islamic State, nothing will change the fact that cold-blooded killers are determined to destroy the West, wipe all infidels from the face of the earth and build a new caliphate based on strict adherence to Shariah law (which leans heavily toward beheadings, lashings, stonings).
The president let loose some passing platitudes — “right makes might,” “the only language understood by killers like this is the language of force” — but in the end Mr. Obama still labors under the delusion that the Islamic State group and its ilk have “perverted one of the world’s great religions.” He still rejects “any suggestion of a clash of civilizations” — despite al Qaeda’s and Islamic State’s express declaration of war against western civilization (and anyone who is not Muslim).
In the end, Mr. Obama said: “No external power can bring about a transformation of hearts and minds,” which means America is powerless. The only solution in this multicultural world is sharing our true feelings honestly with those who not only fundamentally disagree with us, but vow to do us harm.
Exactly a year ago, Mr. Obama said this at the U.N.: “Together, we’ve also worked to end a decade of war.” But the worldwide war on terrorism does not end when the U.S. president decides it is so, it ends when the enemy is defeated.
While he says “peace is not merely the absence of war, but the presence of a better life,” he really should say only this: “We didn’t start this war, but we will end it.”
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @josephcurl.