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A Time for Choosing

May 23, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 34 • By LEE SMITH
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Even now, after the regional uprising has shown that the problems of the Middle East have nothing to do with America or Israel but are the issue of a vicious political culture, the White House won’t let go of the peace process. Reports are that Obama plans to “revitalize” the peace process in the coming weeks. But that would mean, in light of the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation in the Palestinian territories, giving bin Ladenists a seat at the table.

Obama doesn’t need to reset relations with the “Muslim world.” He needs to pick sides. His administration laments that it has no leverage against Syria. But this is the White House’s way of refusing to acknowledge that its relative silence concerning Assad’s atrocities—its feeble insistence that a ruler firing on his own people make good on “reforms”—effectively protects the regime. In Iran, more silence. In Libya, announcing a stand against Qaddafi and then doing nothing to ensure his fall only taxes American prestige.

The idea that America somehow needs to prove its good faith to the entire Muslim world runs counter to the notion that Osama bin Laden’s worldview has no hold on the vast majority of Muslims. The message Obama is sending is rather the opposite—that all Muslims are potential supporters of bin Laden. The reality is different. The United States has friends and allies among all the sects, ethnicities, nations, and tribes that shape the lands of Islam, from the Arab states all the way through Africa and Asia. The job of a president is to explain and implement American policy in a manner that invigorates those allies, while pursuing and crushing our mutual adversaries.

—Lee Smith


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