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Charles Krauthammer's op-ed column on
WASHINGTON--In the week following 9/11/12, something big happened: the collapse of the Cairo Doctrine, the centerpiece of President Obama's foreign policy. It was to reset the very course of post-
On June 4, 2009, in Cairo, Obama promised "a new beginning" offering Muslims "mutual respect," unsubtly implying previous disrespect. Curious, as during the previous 20 years, America had six times committed its military forces on behalf of oppressed Mus-lims, three times for reasons of pure humanitarianism (Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo), where no U.S. interests were at stake.
But no matter. Obama had come to remonstrate and restrain the hyperpower that, by his telling, had lost its way after 9/11, creating Guantanamo, practicing torture, imposing its will with arrogance and presumption.
First, he would cleanse by confession. Then he would heal. Why, given the unique sensitivities of his background--"my sister is half-Indonesian," he proudly told an interviewer in 2007, amplifying on his exquisite appreciation of Islam--his very election would revolutionize relations.
And his policies of accommodation and concession would consolidate the gains: an outstretched hand to Iran's mullahs, a first-time presidential admission of the U.S. role in a 1953 coup, a studied and stunning turning away from the Green Revolution; withdrawal from Iraq with no residual presence or influence; a fixed timetable for leaving Afghanistan; returning our ambassador to Damascus (with kind words for Bashar al-Assad--"a reformer," suggested the secretary of state); deliberately creating distance between the U.S. and Israel.
These measures would raise our standing in the region, restore affection and respect for the United States, and elicit new cooperation from Muslim lands.
It's now three years since the Cairo speech. Look around. The Islamic world is convulsed with an explosion of anti-Americanism. From Tunisia to Lebanon, American schools, businesses, and diplomatic facilities set ablaze. A U.S. ambassador and three others murdered in Benghazi. The black flag of Salafism, of which al-Qaida is a prominent element, raised over
The administration, staggered and confused, blames it all on a 14-minute trailer for a film no one has seen and may not even exist. What else can it say? Admit that its doctrinal premises were supremely naive and its policies deeply corrosive to American influence?