Karl Rove May Not Care About Muslims’ Opinion of the US, But We Should
President Obama explained his purpose right away in his symbolic address to the Muslim world from Cairo yesterday:
So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, those who promote conflict rather than the cooperation . . . .
I’ve come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect.
Not surprisingly, Karl Rove — this country’s most infamous practitioner of the politics of division and disrespect — wasn’t amused (via ThinkProgress):
ROVE: You know what? Who cares about whether or not they approve or like the president of the United States?. . .
I thought one commentator put it pretty good. The most powerful thing that Barack Obama has done to win the respect of the Islamic people, of the Muslim people around the world was three well-placed shots to end a negotiation with terrorists who had hijacked a U.S. boat.
As the last couple of U.S. election cycles should have taught him, Rove’s understanding of human nature is backwards. I’ll never forget this chilling anecdote from a Los Angeles Times story in March 2003:
In Doha, just a few miles from the U.S. Central Command base where Gen. Tommy Franks stands ready to run a war against Iraq, a theater audience made up mainly of Qataris breaks into applause as the leading actor reacts to television scenes of the collapsing World Trade Center towers with the words: "Americans go around punishing everyone. Now it’s time to let them feel something."
Remorseless displays of American power generate not respect, but rather a desire for revenge. That’s why it was so important for the world to see a U.S. president speaking knowledgeably and respectfully about Islam, emphasizing our country’s ideals and a desire to build a future together. And that’s why it’s just as important for Obama to back up these words by disengaging us as rapidly as possible from Iraq and Afghanistan so the Muslim world’s view of us isn’t shaped by images of hostility and destruction.
A changed worldwide view of the United States is our best hope for a more peaceful, less militarized future. Then again, that’s probably exactly what Karl Rove is worried about, isn’t it?