U.S. Special Envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference Rashad Hussain gave a particularly disturbing interview to Arab English daily Asharq Alawsat. The interview should be read in full, but here is one choice exchange:
Q) Do you think it will be easy to overcome the hostility in the Islamic world towards certain US policies, especially in light of the actions taken under the previous US administration?
A) We are concerned about this but we are determined to move forward, without looking to the past and the negative effects of this, in order to erase the hostile feelings caused by the administration of former President George W. Bush. There is now a suitable opportunity to overcome the past, and open a new page in relations between the US and the people in the Islamic region.
For a representative of the U.S., Hussain's words are reprehensible. Jennifer Rubin writes:
This is not, to say the least, what we expect our envoys to communicate to foreign audiences. And then there is the substance of his remarks. Hostile feelings caused by the Bush administration’s policies, he says? Which were those — the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, both of which Obama has continued? The focus on human rights, which Obama has ignored? And notice the assignment of blame to the country he pretends to represent, not to the bad actors — Syria and Iran, for example — that continue to promote terror and brutalize their people. It appears that Hussain is telling the Muslims that the real source of trouble in the Middle East was George W. Bush.
But it is obsession with the peace process as the key to ending such “hostility” and the conviction that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the source of our woes that are the most jarring — and perhaps revelatory of the administration he represents.
Rubin dissects more of Hussain's interview here.
UPDATE: A representative of the State Department has provided THE WEEKLY STANDARD with a transcript and audio showing that Asharq Alawsat misrepresented statements made by Hussain. He was, in fact, charitable to the former president and didn't say Bush "caused" "hostile feelings" in the Middle East. Here's what Hussain actually said:
Do you think that angry feelings that have resulted from (SIC: President Bush?) will be an obstacle to get a new bridge between USA and Islamic world?
What we are really concerned about and moving forward on is implementing new areas of cooperation. Just to give you an example, to be fair to the previous administration, the envoy to the OIC was something that President Bush announced towards the end of his administration, so we are looking to go forward and really build on that and to make sure that the cooperation between the envoy and Muslim communities around the world is based on a whole range of issues, and some of those I’ve discussed with you.