On the same day he refused to meet with Israel's head of government and instead met with his wife and the ladies on The View, Barack Obama made the most important foreign policy speech of his political life.
The speech followed the death of our ambassador in Libya at the hands of terrorists. It came as tensions rose in the Middle East, including Iran and Israel tensions reaching their zenith that month. And it was during a rough campaign that would decide whether Obama would remain for four more years.
As with most speeches, this one played out quickly in the press. Yet, of all Obama's speeches, this one is the most important because it contains many foreign policy positions that will continue to play themselves out in Obama's next term if he were re-elected.
Although two weeks after the death of our ambassador in Libya, President Obama had stated publicly that Ambassador Stevens' death was still sufficiently uncertain in its origins to say whether it was caused by a video. Obama had claimed that he was still searching for the truth. He was still unsure of the real reason(s) behind Stevens' death. And he still believed that it was prudent to continue to blame a minor player in California and his previously very minor film for Ambassador Stevens' death.
The bit film gave Obama a way to tie Ambassador Stevens' death to the film, and to strengthen his ties to Islam through the largest international forum available.
Wearing a ring that according to some says "There is no God but Allah" and inviting radical Muslims to the White House are not sufficient reasons to disqualify Obama from the presidency even if these charges were true.
But using Ambassador Stevens death for political gain alone provides enough reason to vote Obama out of office, especially if his claims about the film and other important facts were intentionally misleading or downright false.
So it is in this context, and for these purposes, that we review Obama's words at the United Nations at the end of September.
"It has been less than two years since a vendor in Tunisia set himself on fire to protest the oppressive corruption in his country, and sparked what became known as the Arab Spring. And since then, the world has been captivated by the transformation that’s taken place, and the United States has supported the forces of change.
We insisted on change in Egypt, because our support for democracy ultimately put us on the side of the people. We supported a transition of leadership in Yemen, because the interests of the people were no longer being served by a corrupt status quo. We intervened in Libya alongside a broad coalition, and with the mandate of the United Nations Security Council, because we had the ability to stop the slaughter of innocents, and because we believed that the aspirations of the people were more powerful than a tyrant. And as we meet here, we again declare that the regime of Bashar al-Assad must come to an end so that the suffering of the Syrian people can stop and a new dawn can begin.
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At times, the conflicts arise along the fault lines of race or tribe. And often they arise from the difficulties of reconciling tradition and faith with the diversity and interdependence of the modern world. In every country, there are those who find different religious beliefs threatening; in every culture, those who love freedom for themselves must ask themselves how much they’re willing to tolerate freedom for others.
That is what we saw play out in the last two weeks, as a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world. Now, I have made it clear that the United States government had nothing to do with this video, and I believe its message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity.
It is an insult not only to Muslims, but to America as well -- for as the city outside these walls makes clear, we are a country that has welcomed people of every race and every faith. We are home to Muslims who worship across our country. We not only respect the freedom of religion, we have laws that protect individuals from being harmed because of how they look or what they believe. We understand why people take offense to this video because millions of our citizens are among them.
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We do so because given the power of faith in our lives, and the passion that religious differences can inflame, the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression; it is more speech -- the voices of tolerance that rally against bigotry and blasphemy, and lift up the values of understanding and mutual respect."
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Let us remember that Muslims have suffered the most at the hands of extremism. On the same day our civilians were killed in Benghazi, a Turkish police officer was murdered in Istanbul only days before his wedding; more than 10 Yemenis were killed in a car bomb in Sana’a; several Afghan children were mourned by their parents just days after they were killed by a suicide bomber in Kabul.
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And on this we must agree: There is no speech that justifies mindless violence. There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents. There's no video that justifies an attack on an embassy. There's no slander that provides an excuse for people to burn a restaurant in Lebanon, or destroy a school in Tunis, or cause death and destruction in Pakistan.
These are important words. But, are they true? And if not, can we vote for a president who says these things about America, our laws, free speech and the Arab Spring?
Was the Arab Spring caused by a man in Tunisia rather than our country's own efforts, especially those of George W. Bush?
Obama's speech failed to tell the truth about what the United States has done in the region for decades. He failed to point out that our country is the leading light of the free world. He failed to refer to the huge financial assistance given to nations in the region even during our time of most need. He failed to remind the Muslim world that our hard work, lives and ever more precious assets have been spent to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches their citizens and promotes freedom in their countries.
If Romney had been president, he would have found time to support the view that our men and women who died for freedom in the Middle East and elsewhere around the world got a kudo or two for helping begin the Arab Spring.
With Obama, our dead men and women and our country did not get any mention whatsoever.
Only the living got any reference at all, and that was very brief indeed: "The American troops who have risked their lives and sacrificed their limbs for strangers half a world away."
One could argue about this one. Presumably, the war on terror is to protect us in the United States. True, the war ended up helping other countries as a by-product. In fact, saying that this was for others does not help Obama's false narrative that the man in Tunisia started the Arab Spring.
As far as the Arab Spring, no one other than Obama and perhaps others in the Arab world recognizes "a man in Tunisia" as the person whno started the Arab Spring. But President Obama has said nothing good about George Bush since he got into office, despite the fact that almost all of his actions have copied those of George Bush, to the point that his foreign policy is almost identical.
Indeed, most recognize that George Bush as the most fervent supporter of "the people" and democracy in the Middle East and Egypt George Bush had a lot to do with the Arab Spring. As the Washington Post noted:
All these developments seem to come as a surprise to the Obama administration, which dismissed Bush's "freedom agenda" as overly ideological and meant essentially to defend the invasion of Iraq. But as Bush's support for the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon and for a democratic Palestinian state showed, he was defending self-government, not the use of force. Consider what Bush said in that 2003 speech, which marked the 20th anniversary of the National Endowment for Democracy, an institution established by President Ronald Reagan precisely to support the expansion of freedom.
"Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe - because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty," Bush said. "As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment and violence ready for export."
This spirit did not always animate U.S. diplomacy in the Bush administration; plenty of officials found it unrealistic and had to be prodded or overruled to follow the president's lead. But the revolt in Tunisia, the gigantic wave of demonstrations in Egypt and the more recent marches in Yemen all make clear that Bush had it right - and that the Obama administration's abandonment of this mind-set is nothing short of a tragedy.
Obama could never say any good words about Republicans, much less George W. Bush. Like Romney, Republicans deserve derision and disdain rather than any credit for anything. Period.
Did 9/11 have nothing to do with the 9/11 riots throughout the Muslim world on the anniversary of September 11, 2001?
In what is the most amazing aspect of his speech, Obama specifically states that "a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world." Did 9/11 have nothing to do with these riots? Why would you say so, Mr. President?
How in the world was the film the cause, rather than Muslims supporting the 9/11 attack against the US on 2001?
Were we only "ultimately on the side of the people" or were we always on the side of the people?
In perhaps the most anti-American comment in his speech, Obama claims that the United States was "ultimately" on the side of the people in Egypt. It is hard to see how such a statement is true, unless you consider the aid provided to all nations as being designed to support dictators rather than the people in those countries.
But the statement does place Obama in a position where he can claim it was only as he became president that the US supported the people.
In fact, Bush's words quoted in the same WP article above are perhaps the most stirring call to freedom for the people in the Middle East.
"Are the peoples of the Middle East somehow beyond the reach of liberty? Are millions of men and women and children condemned by history or culture to live in despotism? Are they alone never to know freedom and never even to have a choice in the matter?"
America is always on the side of the people. Yet, Obama tells the world otherwise.
In perhaps an even more disingenuous comment, Obama also felt that the "interests of the people" were "served by a corrupt status quo." How such a corrupt regime ever serves the country, much less the one in Yemen, is impossible to understand. Yet, this is Obama's world perspective.
Is the video an insult to America?
In perhaps the most dangerous of all comments, and the comment most antithetical to our principles, Obama claims that the video is an insult to America. How and why a film that is insulting to the Muslim faith becomes one insulting to all of America is impossible to see. The statement is not only absolutely incorrect in every way, it denies America's most central principles: freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and the most important difference between our secular country and those which are predicated on the Muslim faith.
Joining the United States with the rioters in other countries throughout the world manages nothing other than approving the actions of the rioters and making one American a scapegoat for the entire country. It also clearly included multiple acts designed to chill free speech.
The video was no insult to America. It speaks volumes in favor of America that the video could be produced here.
We are a country that allows the freedom of ideas and expression not allowed in many other countries, not just those that are predominantly Muslim. The very essence of free speech is to ensure freedom of the individual.
Are we also to understand that a film critical of any other religion, a film critical of China, or one critical of Russia are also bad because they are wrong, insulting or just bad art?
Was the video the cause of the riots and if not why did Obama treat this as the only reason?
Was the video the only reason the demonstrators rose up, attacked US embassies, and left an ambassador dead? If not, why did Obama mention it as the cause?
As to the first question, Obama clearly was lying. If the only reason any attack taking place throughout the Muslim world was due to the video, why did the attacks wait until 9/11? There was no doubt but that the attacks were anti-American, pure and simple, designed to coincide on 9/11 in loving memory of the deaths our people suffered in 2001. At most, some of those fomenting the attacks had used the video as an excuse to condemn the US.
There is also no basis for Obama's statement other than an article in The New York Times that appears to link the video with "riots" that never took place in Libya. Indeed, NYT's David Kirkpatrick, who was in Egypt not Libya, appears to be the genesis of this claim, which the NYT continued to promote for days, including by other NYT authors. Were the riots ever due to the film? Was this a false story?
Precisely why this false narrative was foisted on the world is unclear, and may never be known unless Obama is removed from office through election or other legal process and the records of the events finally fully revealed. However, the fact that it was known to be false at the time of Obama's UN speech is absolutely clear.
Why would Obama, a so-called Constitutional scholar, state that more speech is the strongest weapon against "hateful speech?"
In perhaps his most dangerous statement of the whole speech, Obama claims that more speech is not the only weapon against "hateful" speech. Note that there is no basis in law or fact to claim that the film violates any law in the United States. It is not "hate" speech, although perhaps Obama wishes it were. Moreover, this law would have been pointed out by Obama, proclaiming that the video was also against US law.
Instead, we have legal problems with his claim in two ways.
First, free speech is not absolute. There are laws and circumstances where it is not permitted. But if you read Obama's statement, it could easily be read that violence is also acceptable, just not the strongest weapon.
Second, demonstrating against a film in the United States is lawful, assuming the right permits were obtained when needed.
However, undertaking acts of violence, attacking embassies, taking lives, and destroying property are not.
Again, it would have been appropriate to condemn the violence in the Muslim world, including the death of our ambassador at this time. This also ties into the last point below.
Have Muslims suffered the most at the hands of extremism?
In one of his least accurate statements in any of his speeches, Obama claims that more Muslims have suffered at the hands of extremism than any others.
How must Israel feel about this statement? And why have no voices risen up against this comment.
The millions killed by the Nazis, the Khmer Rouge, the Chinese, and many, many others are of no importance or significance to Obama when speaking to the UN?
Is there any speech that justifies violence?
In his most dangerous statement of all, Obama claims that there is no speech that justifies mindless violence. This is yet another statement that supports the riots on 9/11. Surely, the violence was not "mindless," including the killing of our ambassador. After all, they had the film, according to Obama's false claims.
We would like to understand from our president what form of violence is justified because of speech.