As always, the devil is in the details of what he says and where he chooses to push.
President Barack Obama is preparing a fresh outreach to the Muslim world in coming days, senior U.S. officials say, one that will ask those in the Middle East and beyond to reject Islamic militancy in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death and embrace a new era of relations with the U.S.
Mr. Obama is preparing to deliver that message in a wide-ranging speech, perhaps as early as next week, these officials say. The president intends to argue that bin Laden’s death, paired with popular uprisings sweeping North Africa and the Middle East, signal that the time has come to an end when al Qaeda could claim to speak for Muslim aspirations.
“It’s an interesting coincidence of timing—that he is killed at the same time that you have a model emerging in the region of change that is completely the opposite of bin Laden’s model,” Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser at the White House, said in an interview.
That’s true enough. Bin Laden’s model was to take over through terrorism. The new Arab Spring model is to take over via democracy in a vacuum of power, as in Egypt, or fool the West into intervening on your behalf, as in Libya. Or, forge a coalition of “moderates” (who favor terrorism) and “extremists” (who also favor terrorism) in the Palestinian government. The common denominator of all is that Islamists stand to gain.
One thing is a virtual certainty: Obama will use the occasion of bin Laden’s death to push Israel to make more concessions to its enemies. That’s obscene, but it’s also very likely to be one of his angles.