But Obama truly believed that such an appeal would make the lion lie down with the lamb. No one else had ever thought to appeal to the better angels of Muslim society, but he would, and would do what no American president had ever done. He would upstage them all, and show that through the power of his words and personality, the most volatile and primitive part of the world would engage in a multicultural discourse. And when he neatly dispensed with Osama bin Laden, the Muslim world would understand that this was the necessary move by a wise leader who respected their culture like no American leader ever had.
We now know that he did not even feel the need to do what other presidents did — get daily in-person security briefings. He was so smart he could just read a summary. So confident was he, and so trusting of the Libyan people he had helped, that he did not worry about security at the embassy and left it in their hands.
We see what happened. But the disaster certainly was not due to the fault of the president, apparently. He and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have conducted an apology tour for an obscure YouTube video. Obama even did this before the UN General Assembly, reiterating that “the United States government had nothing to do with this video,” and he then gave a lecture about tolerance and hate: “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.” It was a grade-school session on bullying.
Again, Obama displayed a belief that his mere words, his explanations, would bring people intent on wiping us out to understanding our way of thinking. Last year at the UN, he had said, “Let there be no doubt: The tide of war is receding,” and he cited troop withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan as evidence. Also last year at the UN, he referred to the protests in Tahrir Square:
We saw in those protesters the moral force of non-violence that has lit the world from Delhi to Warsaw, from Selma to South Africa — and we knew that change had come to Egypt and to the Arab world.
Change has come indeed. On September 23, 2012, the New York Times ran an article titled: “Egypt’s New Leader Spells Out New Terms for U.S.-Arab Ties.” Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi — evidently forgetting the “new beginning” proclaimed in Cairo in 2009 — said that the United States “needed to fundamentally change its approach to the Arab world.” The lead sentence continued, claiming that Morsi’s version of “change” required “showing greater respect for [the Arab world’s] values” if the U.S. “hoped to overcome decades of pent-up anger.”
On Tuesday, September 25, as the president headed to address the UN, another New York Times headline read: “In Arab Spring, Obama Finds a Sharp Test.” Sharp test? No, just a few “bumps in the road,” as Obama described it in a 60 Minutes interview. Is that how our ambassador thought his president would refer to his death?