A History Lesson for Obama

A History Lesson for Obama

Paul J. Shlichta

“Foreign policy is the area where I am probably most confident that I know more and understand the world better than Senator Clinton and Senator McCain….”
  – B. Obama 
“I trust the American people to understand that it is not weakness, but wisdom to talk not just to our friends, but to our enemies, like Roosevelt did, and Kennedy did, and Truman did.”
  – B. Obama 


Mr. Obama has already been taken to task for the first of these naïve statements by Hillary Clinton   and for the second by Jack Kelly. I would like to add a footnote to Kelly’s analysis.


Roosevelt actually did once try to negotiate with Hitler, not in person but by telegram. The exercise turned out to be not only futile but embarrassing.


On April 14, 1939, in the hope of easing the tensions in Europe, Roosevelt sent a public telegram that began:


“You realize I am sure that throughout the world hundreds of millions of human beings are living today in constant fear of a new war or even a series of wars….”


and continues:


“Because the United States, as one of the nations of the Western Hemisphere, is not involved in the immediate controversies which have arisen in Europe, I trust that you may be willing to make such a statement of policy to me as the head of a nation far removed from Europe in order that I, acting only with the responsibility and obligation of a friendly intermediary, may communicate such declaration to other nations now apprehensive as to the course which the policy of your Government may take.

“Are you willing to give assurance that your armed forces will not attack or invade the territory or possessions of the following independent nations: Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, The Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain and Ireland, France, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Poland, Hungary, Rumania, Yugoslavia, Russia, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Iraq, the Arabias, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Iran.”


and ends:


“I hope that your answer will make it possible for humanity to lose fear and regain security for many years to come.”


It was Roosevelt’s most fatuous, most “Obamesque” moment.


Hitler capitalized on Roosevelt’s naiveté. He replied  , two weeks later, in a viciously satirical speech  :


“Finally Mr. Roosevelt demands the readiness to give him an assurance that the German fighting forces will not attack the territory or possessions of the following independent nations, and above all, that they will not march into them. And he goes on to name the following as the countries in question: Finland, Latvia…”


When he got to Roosevelt’s long list of countries, he spun them out, with increasingly long pauses between countries, in a masterpiece of deadpan stand-up comedy.


The audience roared as Hitler held Roosevelt up to ridicule before the whole world. What was less obvious was that, in an hour-long speech, Hitler had neatly dodged Roosevelt’s pleas and had  refused to offer any promises.


The ridicule didn’t end there. Nearly three years later, in his declaration of war  against the U.S., he got in a final dig:


“On 5th April, 1939, came Roosevelt’s famous appeal to myself and the Duce. It was a clumsy combination of geographical and political ignorance and of the arrogance of the millionaire circles around him. It asked us to give undertakings to conclude non-aggression Pacts indiscriminately with any country, including mostly countries which were not even free, since Mr. Roosevelt’s allies had annexed them or changed them into Protectorates. You will remember, my Deputies, that I then gave a polite and clear reply to this meddling gentleman. For some months at least, this stopped the flow of eloquence from this honest warmonger. But his place was taken by his honorable spouse. She-declined to live with her sons in a world such as the one we have worked out. And quite right, for this is a world of labor and not of cheating and trafficking.”


I contend that this embarrassing exchange is just what one might expect between Obama and Ahmadinejad or Hugo Chavez. In the light of this snippet of history, of Mr. Carter’s similarly embarrassing failures both as president and after, and of the historical record of the innumerable failures of negotiation to deter determined aggressors from war, I gasp in amazement at Senator Obama’s arrogant boasts about his expertise in foreign policy and history.


If Obama makes it to the White House, be afraid…be very afraid.


The New York Times notices the Islamic death penalty for apostasy, wonders if Obama will incur it

The New York Times notices the Islamic death penalty for apostasy, wonders if Obama will incur it

Well over a year after I wrote about this possibility, and six months after Washington Post “journalist” Perry Bacon completely misrepresented my position in order to blame me for the “Obama is a Muslim” rumors, and many many months after the whole world has been discussing this issue from all kinds of angles, the New York (aka New Duranty) Times discovers that Barack Obama, having been raised a Muslim, may face angry Muslims saying he should be put to death as an apostate.

It’s interesting to note how forthright the Times is in saying that most Islamic jurists agree that death is the sentence for apostasy. Did they acknowledge that during the Abdel Rahman case?

“President Apostate?,” by Edward N. Luttwak in the New York Times, May 12 (thanks to all who sent this in):

As the son of the Muslim father, Senator Obama was born a Muslim under Muslim law as it is universally understood. It makes no difference that, as Senator Obama has written, his father said he renounced his religion. Likewise, under Muslim law based on the Koran his mother’s Christian background is irrelevant.Of course, as most Americans understand it, Senator Obama is not a Muslim. He chose to become a Christian, and indeed has written convincingly to explain how he arrived at his choice and how important his Christian faith is to him.

His conversion, however, was a crime in Muslim eyes; it is “irtidad” or “ridda,” usually translated from the Arabic as “apostasy,” but with connotations of rebellion and treason. Indeed, it is the worst of all crimes that a Muslim can commit, worse than murder (which the victim’s family may choose to forgive).

With few exceptions, the jurists of all Sunni and Shiite schools prescribe execution for all adults who leave the faith not under duress; the recommended punishment is beheading at the hands of a cleric, although in recent years there have been both stonings and hangings. (Some may point to cases in which lesser punishments were ordered — as with some Egyptian intellectuals who have been punished for writings that were construed as apostasy — but those were really instances of supposed heresy, not explicitly declared apostasy as in Senator Obama’s case.)

It is true that the criminal codes in most Muslim countries do not mandate execution for apostasy (although a law doing exactly that is pending before Iran’s Parliament and in two Malaysian states). But as a practical matter, in very few Islamic countries do the governments have sufficient authority to resist demands for the punishment of apostates at the hands of religious authorities….


Luttwak misses one possibility, which I explained here last year: as far as I know Obama has never explained when exactly he left Islam. This is a crucial point, for according to Islamic law an apostate male is not to be put to death if he has not reached puberty (cf. ‘Umdat al-Salik o8.2; Hidayah vol. II p. 246). Some, however, hold that he should be imprisoned until he is of age and then “invited” to accept Islam, but officially the death penalty for youthful apostates is ruled out.

In any case, it’s good to see the Times actually admitting the reality of Islamic law, instead of peddling the comforting fictions we usually see from them.

The Obama Change We Really Can Believe In

The Obama Change We Really Can Believe In

By Peggy Shapiro

Barack Obama’s call to action is “Change we can believe in.” I would love to believe it, but until now I haven’t even been able to understand it. What is going to change?  With his latest about face on direct talks with Iran’s Ahmadinejad, Obama has finally clarified what he is going to change: his opinion. From terror to funding for tots, where there’s controversy and two sides to be wooed, there is the Obama about-face.


On unconditional presidential meeting with terror-sponsoring states: Yes to No


This week, Obama’s key foreign policy advisor, Susan E. Rice, told the New York Times that Obama never claimed he would be willing to meet “unconditionally” with Iran’s president  Mr. Ahmadinejad. Dr. Rice said that Obama would not meet at the presidential level with this Iran or any other so-called “rogue” state without the preparation to use such a meeting as leverage for change. In fact, it was only right-wing machinations or imagination that “distorted and reframed” Obama’s views.


That was certainly a change from numerous statements candidate Obama made on the same topic.  Did John McCain enter the following posting on Obama’s campaign website? “Obama is the only major candidate who supports tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions.”  


Nothing could have been clearer than Obama’s response to Anderson Cooper during the YouTube debate. (transcript)


COOPER: In the spirit of that type of bold leadership, would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries? Senator Obama?
OBAMA: I would..


On talking with the terrorist group Hamas: No to Yes (but it wasn’t really me)


Obama has repeatedly stated that he would not engage in talks with Hamas until the group stopped its terror campaign against Israel, yet on May 9, 2008 the Times of London reported that Obama adviser Robert Malley, a noted critic of Israel, had been conducting talks with Hamas. Of course, Malley’s position of advisor was downgraded to “informal.” How did Obama fire Malley if the man never worked for him?


On driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants: Yes to huh?


As an Illinois state senator, Obama voted to require illegal immigrants get a license. His position seemed cleared, yet when Wolf Blitzer questioned Obama about his stance, the response was anything but clear. From  the November 15, 2007 debate:
BLITZER: “I take it, Senator Obama, you support giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. Is that right?” OBAMA:”…I have to make sure that people understand the problem we have here is not driver’s licenses.  Undocumented workers don’t come here to drive. (Laughter) they don’t go – they’re not coming here to go to the In-N-Out Burger. That’s not the reason they’re here.  They’re here to work. And so instead of being distracted by what has now become a wedge issue, let’s focus on actually solving the problem that… this administration, the Bush administration, has done nothing about.”
BLITZER: “Do you support or oppose driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants?” 
OBAMA: “I am not proposing that that’s what we do. What I’m saying is that we can’t – No, no, no, no, look, I have already said I support the notion that we have to deal with public safety and that driver’s licenses at the state level can make that happen.


Whatever the response really meant, it does not sound like a man who sticks to his convictions.
Funding child welfare: No to Yes

Sometimes the change of opinion is framed as an accidentally incorrect vote; for example, there was the time Barack Obama voted to cut millions of dollars from a Chicago-area child welfare office. When angry Democrats rebuked him, Obama claimed that he was not aware that he had voted no.  It may have been a mistake or an easy way to placate both sides of an issue.


Freer rules for riverboat casinos: Yes to No

When Chicago churches were opposing looser rules for riverboat casinos in 1997, Obama cast his vote with the gambling industry. After the measure passed, Obama stated that he wanted to be recorded as voting “no.”  Voting both sides of an issue could perhaps garner him support from both churches and casinos.


Reverend Wright: Didn’t say it, didn’t hear it, isn’t accurate, is justifiable, is unacceptable


The number of opinion reversals on Reverend Wright are mind-spinning: his church is not especially controversial, he never heard the hate-speech, the snippets of the sermons are “charicatures peddled by some commentators,” the pastor’s remarks were akin to those made by Obama’s white grandmother, rejecting the anti-American and anti-Semitic minister would be rejecting all of black America, and on and on. Obama thus courts the radical left by participating comfortably in its extremism and mollifies middle American with a range of excuses.


Iraq War: It’s dumb, I might be wrong, We can win, Failure would be a disaster, Failure’s inevitable, I don’t know, Reduce troops, not withdraw, Withdraw troops, Maybe?


Although Obama boasts that his is the Democratic candidate that has not changed its tune on the Iraq War, he has been quoted singing different lyrics. The Boston Globe online tracks some of Obama’s variations.


October 2, 2002, Chicago Wearing a war is not an option pin, Obama called to the crowd,” The Iraq war is a dumb war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle, but on politics.”
When America was obtaining clear victories on the ground in Iraq, Obama wrote in The Audacity of Hope,  “I began to suspect that I might have been wrong [about the war]”
On March 28, 2003, on CNN, Obama claimed, “I absolutely want to make sure that the troops have sufficient support to be able to win.”
At the Democratic National Convention that July, 2004, his only mention of the war was, “There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it.”
July, 2004 “The failure of the Iraqi state would be a disaster…It would dishonor the 900-plus men and women who have already died. . . . It would be a betrayal of the promise that we made to the Iraqi people, and it would be hugely destabilizing from a national security perspective.”.
July 26, 2004 “I’m not privy to Senate intelligence reports. What would I have done? I don’t know.” The New York Times
2004 “I’m always careful to say that I was not in the Senate, so perhaps the reason I thought [the war] was such a bad idea was that I didn’t have the benefit of U.S. intelligence,” The New Yorker
November 2005 speech, he called for a gradual withdrawal of forces. “Notice that I say ‘reduce,’ and not ‘fully withdraw [troops]'”
December, 2005), “It is arguable that the best politics going into ’06 would be a clear, succinct message: ‘Let’s bring our troops home…But whether that’s the best policy right now, I don’t feel comfortable saying it is.” Chicago Tribune
July 2007 “Presidential hopeful Barack Obama said the United States cannot use its military to solve humanitarian problems and that preventing a potential genocide in Iraq isn’t a good enough reason to keep U.S. forces there.”
 March, 2008 Obama’s website states, “Obama will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months.”
March 7, 2008 Obama’s then key foreign policy advisor Samantha Power, spoke on the commitment to get combat forces out in 16 months.  “You can’t make a commitment in March 2008 about what circumstances will be like in January of 2009.”


Although I still don’t know how a President Obama would change the nation or if these “changes” would benefit or harm the country, I now know that there is a change I can believe in. Just present Barack Obama with a controversial issue which requires a firm stand on principle, and we are guaranteed change.

Obama’s biggest general election liability: His bitter half

Hot item: The 57-state flag lapel pin

Obama: Israel a ‘constant sore’ that ‘infects…foreign policy’

Obama: Israel a ‘constant sore’ that ‘infects…foreign policy’

Clarice Feldman

Obama’s mask slips even further:
Interviewed in The Atlantic, Barack Obama tells us that Israel is a “constant wound… a constant sore…” and an infection. Gateway Pundit caught Obama’s latest inflammatory remarks.

Jeff Goldberg:— Do you think that Israel is a drag on America’s reputation overseas?
Barack Obama:— No, no, no. But what I think is that this constant wound, that this constant sore, does infect all of our foreign policy. The lack of a resolution to this problem provides an excuse for anti-American militant jihadists to engage in inexcusable actions, and so we have a national-security interest in solving this, and I also believe that Israel has a security interest in solving this because I believe that the status quo is unsustainable. I am absolutely convinced of that, and some of the tensions that might arise between me and some of the more hawkish elements in the Jewish community in the United States might stem from the fact that I’m not going to blindly adhere to whatever the most hawkish position is just because that’s the safest ground politically.
h/t: :Larwyn

Note: Obama partisans are claiming that he said that the Midle East conflict is a constant sore. But quite clearly the antecedent to “this constant wound, that this constant sore” in the question is “Israel.” Perhaps the Harvard-trained lawyer who tells us that words are important wants us to believe he was just sloppy. Or maybe words don’t matter when he doesn’t want them to? 

Update from Ed Lasky:

David Frum at National Review Online adds some additional commentary
Obama: [S]ome of the tensions that might arise between me and some of the more hawkish elements in the Jewish community in the United States might stem from the fact that I’m not going to blindly adhere to whatever the most hawkish position is just because that’s the safest ground politically.I want to solve the problem, and so my job in being a friend to Israel is partly to hold up a mirror and tell the truth and say if Israel is building settlements without any regard to the effects that this has on the peace process, then we’re going to be stuck in the same status quo that we’ve been stuck in for decades now, and that won’t lift that existential dread that David Grossman described in your article.
Notice what is embedded here:
(1) a condescending assumption that the so-called hawkish position on the Arab-Israeli dispute is “blind” and adopted by US politicians only because they seek political safety – there’s no acknowledgement that the dovish position was ever tried or that it in fact produced a terrible war in 2000-2003;
(2) the attitude, common on the Democratic left, that real friendship to Israel consists in compelling Israeli governments to do things that most Israelis regard as dangerous;
(3) acceptance of the red herring that it is “settlements” that are the source of the Arab-Israeli dispute;
(4) enormous and unexplained confidence that he can solve a problem through his personal intervention.
Jennifer Rubin also comments at Commentary Contentions:
He was asked if he was “flummoxed” by Hamas’ endorsement. The answer is not likely to set your mind as ease:
I wasn’t flummoxed. I think what is going on there is the same reason why there are some suspicions of me in the Jewish community. Look, we don’t do nuance well in politics and especially don’t do it well on Middle East policy. We look at things as black and white, and not gray. It’s conceivable that there are those in the Arab world who say to themselves, “This is a guy who spent some time in the Muslim world, has a middle name of Hussein, and appears more worldly and has called for talks with people, and so he’s not going to be engaging in the same sort of cowboy diplomacy as George Bush,” and that’s something they’re hopeful about. I think that’s a perfectly legitimate perception as long as they’re not confused about my unyielding support for Israel’s security.
No one is right or wrong, it’s all “gray” and he’s just the guy to let everyone know. What is jaw-dropping, however, is his assumption that Hamas might be impressed with his “worldly” outlook. That’s what Hamas has been searching for: someone who is worldly. And notice the evasion he employs (”talks with people”) to escape stating the obvious: they are thrilled he’s offered direct talks with their sponsor and Holocaust denier Ahmejinidad.