Saturday, November 13, 2010

Jihad against Obama

Obama speaking last week to students in Mumbai

So, President Obama got into trouble at home for some comments he made during the Indian leg of his Asian trip. During a town hall style meeting with students in Mumbai he was asked what he thought of Jihad. His answer has led to a barrage of criticism from the right who claim the President is unable to identify the enemy and therefor an ineffective Commander in Chief. The theory being peddled is that if you do not know who your enemy is, then you cannot fight them. Lets have a listen to Obamas response and an example of the type of criticism he has received, in this case from conservative Fox News pundit Sean Hannity and former Republican Congressman Newt Gingrich.

Ok, let me first say that in a previous post I addressed the issue of terminology when it comes to confronting terrorism in a post entitled Violent Extremists or Islamic Terrorists . In the post I say

The general narrative from the right is that you cannot defeat something if you are unable to identify it. I would generally go along with that. However I have seen no indication in a practical sense that President Obama is unsure where the might of American military power should be directed. He has utterly decimated the Al Quaeda and Taliban leadership with UAV drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan. If he uses softer language in order to avoid unnecessarily angering the Muslim World then what possible harm can come from this. The only harm I can think of is that flag waving pundits like Crowley and Hannity are denied the use of soundbites which make them look tough.

The key phrase is Unnecessarily. Why would any supporter of the American campaign against global terrorism want to unnecessarily anger the Muslim World. There are times when it will be necessary to be blunt and this can't be helped but the pundits and politicians that seem to get some sort of Joy out of it or are attempting to score brownie points with sections of the public by subtly insulting the Islamic world should be put in their place.

I would use the above argument to counter the claims of Hannity, Gingrich and others who claim that the Presidents response to the Mumbai question was inappropriate and feeble. In fact, I don't think Obama was just being sensible when talking about Islam in a country with hundreds of millions of Muslims and where tension between the religions is often very high. I think he was actually right. I am a Catholic and while I am not a particularly religious man I do have an interest in all religions. One aspect of Islam I admire is the concept of the inner struggle. I personally believe that every human being has to wage a battle within themselves between good and bad, between doing the right thing and the wrong thing. This inner struggle is what most Muslims interpret the word Jihad to mean. Of course there are many other aspects of the Islamic faith that I believe are incompatible with democratic values but on the personal level, I like the concept of the inner Jihad. President Obama was right to note the different interpretations of Jihad.

Next Gingrich is a figure on the right of American politics that I particularly dislike. I dislike his opportunism and his persistent undermining of President Obama's foreign policy. Newts description of the President's view on global terrorism is way off.

This administration is in such total denial about whose trying to kill us and what their motives are that it is dangerous to the country and the President today in this particular performance was following up on this continuous denial. You cannot get this administration to understand who they are

Since his first week in office President Obama has aggressively taken the war to the Al Quaeda and Taliban leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan through the use of UAV drone strikes. He has initiated a troop surge in Afghanistan and successfully lobbied the Pakistani government to confront the Taliban dominated provinces of Western Pakistan. This is one of the reasons many of the Obama bashers do not like to mention Afghanistan. Simply because most objective commentators agree that he has pursued the war in an effective fashion. Newt Gingrich has some cheek saying that the President doesn't know who the enemy is particularly when many on the right wing of the republican party favored chasing Al Quaeda out of Iraq in 2003 when in fact Al Quaeda's presence in Iraq was probably less than that in every other Arab country. Of course, President Obamas domestic strategy is a different issue and I have no objection to the criticism he has been receiving in that regard. Whether I agree or not, it is legitimate criticism. But on the international front, I am prepared at this stage to declare myself a cautious supporter of his foreign policy. Those that continually criticise literally everything he says and does foreign policy wise, are no different than the Bush bashers who never gave the former President a chance.


Gary said...

I agree about Gringrich. He is opportunistic and hypocritical. It is hard for me to listen to him without remembering that he was forced to resign as Speaker of the House in a sandal and even though he claims credit for the Republicans first "Contract with America" -he never made any serious attempt to live up to it after that election.
As for President Obama -I am no fan of his either. He made too many promises that he immediately forgot and his economic policies have been ineffective at best.
I do not know about his foreign policy. There are parts that I understand and support but there are also parts I do not. I think he has handled Afghanistan acceptably and in general, his war on terror has gotten a few results. I do not like his apologizing for the US so much, nor do I think he is being effective handling Iran (which could be the biggest problem in a few short years). I question his handling of support for Israel which has been confusing at times. He also seems to be ignoring a growing threat in Venezuela.
Obama has 2 years more as President and these could be very important years. I will wait to decide about him for a while longer.

GW said...

Ted: You are wrong on this. There is much more going on in the "war on terror" than simply the physical war. Indeed, the physical war on terror is penultimately secondary to the war of ideas. In a post here ( ), I explain in detail about the civil war for the heart and soul of Islam going on in the Muslim world. Months after I wrote that post, Gingrich began his criticism of Obama on the same grounds. Gingrich has it right. Obama's treatment of Islam is counterproductive in the extreme. It is unrealistic. It is not merely harmful to the free world, it is equally harmful to the Islamic world.

I will be happy to argue this one with you if you would care to read those posts and sources cited therein.

Ted Leddy said...


Thanks You for your excellent comment as always. I was not even aware of the circumstances in which Newt Gingrich stepped down as speaker of the house. My dislike of him is based on his style, which appears to me to be highly opportunistic. I am turned off by any politician who constantly criticises the leadership without having regard for the responsibility that they have.

Obamas domestic policy is undeniably quite radical. But truthfully it is not an issue I get particularly passionate about. I have my opinions but I'm not an American so I kind of feel like its not my place. A bit like commenting on the status of a friends marraige. I can however easily see why so many Americans are alarmed by his astonishing levels of spending.

I think his apologizing, or groveling to the world is somewhat exaggerated. Some of his political supporters and his fans in the media do this but I think the President himself makes the case for America effectively around the world.

Have a look at his Nobel Prize acceptance speech. I think people were expecting just another speech on his "apology tour". Instead he articulately praised the role and sacrifices of America in achieving and maintaining international peace and security.

Like I said. I think it is his supporters that do the apologising. There are a lot of Americans living in Ireland. Many are liberal. Meeting them can be quite fun. They love apologizing for Americas behavior around the world, particularly during the Bush era. The look of surprise on their faces is priceless when I begin praising America. I love reminding them that America liberated western Europe through sheer blood and guts in 1944/5, and liberated Eastern Europe by confronting the USSR and ultimately wrestling it to the ground in 1991.

On Iran, Israel and Venezuela (I read your excellent post on this last week), these are all exceptional challenges, ones which I'm willing to give the President the benefit of the doubt. However I do get angered by some on the right who suggest he does not have Americas interest at heart whilst dealing with these issues.

Ted Leddy said...


Thank You for your comment. I read your excellent post on the "retreat from the war of ideas". You make a compelling case.

A couple of points. Tom Friedman made the point that Islam needs to be reformed from within. This is something I agree with. If as you suggest the US President should confront and expose Salafism for what you and I know it to be, are we not realistically talking about an eventual march to war with Saudi Arabia. Salafism may be a minority sect, but that sect is in control of Mecca and Medina. A war with Saudi would be a war with the whole Muslim world.

Furthermore, every US President since FDR has embraced the house of Saud for economic reasons. Is this something you would like to see reversed ?

The reality is the current American President needs Muslim support around the world. The next President will too. America needs the Egyptians, the Jordanians, Kuwaitis, Pakistanis, Indonesians and others to assist American in confronting global terrorism. He has to, he must be sensitive toward their religion.

Your description of the war of ideas is fascinating, and sound. But surely in this case there is an argument for "speak softly and carry a big stick".

Good to see you blogging again GW !

GW said...

Ted: Thanks for your response and kind words.

I think Obama, or whomever is President, can certainly be much more honest about the problem in general terms that acknowledges the truth, throws support to those who wish to evolve Islam, while at the same time leaving it to low level functionaries to raise the hard facts. The radicals would scream like stuck pigs. The majority of Muslims, those who are now cowed by the radicals, would have cover to come begin to speak out. If that never happens, then Islam will never modify and an existential clash of civilizations is inevitable, if not in our lifetime, then in the lifetime of our childen and our children's children.

Understand that the Sauds fully realize that they have their hands on the tiger's tail with Wahhabism. The Saud Wahhab partnership worked great for two blood stained centuries - until the oil wealth poured in and the Saud clan was thoroughly corrupted by it. The manner and type of corruption is indeed violative of the many of the precepts of Wahhabism.

Today, Al Qaeda wants the U.S. and the West out of the Middle East so they can conquer their highest priority target - and its not Israel. It is the Kingdom of Saud. The Sauds have, for decades now, attempted to buy off the Wahhabis by funding this vast export of their medieval version of Islam. In return, the Wahhabis have turned a blind eye to the utter corruption in the House of Saud. At least up until al Qaeda came to prominence and began plotting the overthrow of the House of Saud.

Bottom line, the House of Saud is in an impossible positon and they know it. While, for public consumption, I have no doubt that they would be vociferous about any criticism of Wahhabism, in private, they would welcome it as a lifeline.

At any rate, while Saudi oil is a true practical consideration, the clash of civilizations is real, and we will lose it in the end if we hide our heads in the sand and give no aid to those who wish to reform their religion. We didn't go into Iraq for oil wealth - but we are aiding and abetting radical Islamists to keep oil flowing.

Lastly, there are many reformers out there whose voices are, at the moment, voices in the wilderness. Were I President, my Czar for Muslim Affairs would be Zhudi Jasser. I would acknowledge the problems in Islam and let him, a devout Muslim, do all the heavy lifting. He is doing a yeoman's job by himself. What he needs is a platform for his voice. Then we non-Muslims do indeed need to leave it to the Islamic world to choose its own course.

GW said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ted Leddy said...


Thank You for your truly excellent comment. I'm glad you acknowledge that reform from within is what we want to see. Incidentally, when I referred in this post to the Obama bashers I was not referring to you. I believe you are a fair critic of the President. You clearly reject the Presidents' agenda but are man enough to note when he does things that impress you, such as with the UAV strikes or his Nobel prize acceptance speech.

I believe your analysis is entirely sound. However, to achieve these goals will require a foreign policy objective of reforming Islam. Obamas' foreign policy appears to be limited to fighting and containing terrorism. This was ultimately true of Bush as well.

I believe the greatest challenge facing America is maintaining its dominance through out the next half century while China and India continue to rise. That is why I think the US will avoid another resource draining military commitment in the Middle East if at all possible over the next twenty years. Your approach is ambitious but risky. I can't imagine any American President going for it. However, as you said, if Islam does not reform the clash of civilisation is inevitable. Perhaps our hand will be forced in the future.

Paul said...

Of course there are many other aspects of the Islamic faith that I believe are incompatible with democratic values but on the personal level, I like the concept of the inner Jihad.'

It would be good if it existed, it does not. Ted, you have been taken in by the liberal media. All four schools of Sunni Jurisprudence preach violent Jihad to spread Islam. Same is true of Shia Islam, there will and should be a clash of civilisations or rather civilisation and Islam.

thesystemworks said...

The media and the powers that be contantly bombards us with assurances that Jihad is some kind of spiritual concept. In high school I've had to sit through visiting theater groups telling us this through drama, as well as how Islam is a 'religion of peace' (most of the performers were not Muslim, though I suspect the funding is). I've heard this stuff from condescending TV shows like 'Don't Panic: I'm Islamic' and many others on the BBC.

Is there any actual source for this in traditional Islam? I know the Ahmadiyya sect reject violent jihad and political Islam, and they are to be admired. But they are hated by a lot of Muslims out there. Many Ahmadiyya were martyred this year in Pakistan in an attack on one of their mosques, shortly before Israelis did the right thing and shot the type of scum that commit and support such atrocities. As well as that, the Ahmadiyya are a more modern development in the religion. I'm suspicious, and I feel Paul speaks the truth. I'm open to other opinions here.

Ted Leddy said...


I know many Muslim, I'm sure you do too. I know many devout Muslims. I don't know any who support political violence let alone any who practise it.

"All four schools of Sunni Jurisprudence preach violent Jihad to spread Islam".

Perhaps but if that were true in a practical sense then there would be vastly more violence than there is now. If Islam preaches the spread of Islam through violence then only a small minority follow such preachings.

There are 60,000 Muslims in Ireland. There has never been an Islamic motivated act of violence in this country as far as I am aware.

I don't think that's being "taken in" by the liberal media. I think that's just common sense and refusing to be be alarmist.

Ted Leddy said...


I too admire the Ahmadiyya sect ! I also believe that there are many clerics in Iran that have called for an Islamic reformation and that if given the chance, they would spread an Islamic way of thinking that stays out of politics and rejects violent Jihad.

Paul said...

'I know many Muslim, I'm sure you do too. I know many devout Muslims. I don't know any who support political violence let alone any who practise it.'

Besides Khalid Kelly and Liam Egan of course in your own words. I'll put it another way, compare and contrast the behaviour of Muslims in the west and elsewhere over the entirely legitimate Muhammad cartoons, with the behaviour of Muslims with regard to protesting against Jihadism? Which of these was the loudest and supported by the most Muslims? The latter has not in fact occurred has it? Certainly if it has it was dwarfed by the former.

'There are 60,000 Muslims in Ireland. There has never been an Islamic motivated act of violence in this country as far as I am aware.'

Didn't Jihad Jane visit Ireland? I'm sure a plot existed with regards to her and Ireland with the Gardia making arrests. Either way give it time Ted, either Ireland successfully resists Jihad or you will become Islamic. It will only take time, UK in a far worse position of course. Sorry Ted but there are kind and moderate Muslims but no moderate Islam. I wish there was.