Conrad Black: Obama and the Muslims

Roundup: Historians' Take

[Conrad Black is the author of Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom and Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full. He can be reached at]

It seemed, after the 2008 election, that Mr. Obama thought that, having convinced the great white moderate political center of America that it should put him in the White House to slake its concerns about 400 years of mistreatment of blacks (and, as a bonus, to be spared having to take seriously the posturings of charlatans like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson ever again), he might be perhaps able also to turn the page in international relations with many countries that were convinced the United States was governed by a self-serving white capitalist apparat. It was worth a try, but it didn’t work. Those countries and political currents in the world that do not wish America well don’t care who is in the White House. They want to pick America’s pocket, overrun its interests, and kill its children. Unfortunately, althoughPresident Obama may have made brief inroads on public opinion with his speeches in Egypt and Ghana, public opinion in undemocratic countries doesn’t have much force unless the regime is insufferably oppressive and terribly enfeebled. His words were eloquent in Ghana, rather cloying in Cairo; in both cases, they evaporated like the tropical dew.

Mr. Obama appears to believe some of the guilt-stained profferings he has made to the world: The United States should be more socialistic, like economically stagnant Europe, carried for decades by America’s addiction to Italian and French luxury goods and German engineered products. President Truman should not have dropped the atomic bomb. President Eisenhower should not have been complicit in turfing out Mossadegh (a deranged fellow-traveling demagogue who rarely got out of his pajamas, perhaps the sartorial inspiration for the late don of the Genovese crime family, Vincent “The Chin” Gigante), as prime minister of Iran.

America may just now be coming to grips with the implications of the fact that its president is going forth into the world actually believing the bunk that America pursued its national interest with unjustifiable callousness and behaved reprehensibly by the standards of those who reproach it now, and that there may actually be some merit to the Americaphobic strictures of the Ahmadinejads, Mugabes, and Chávezes....

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