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If Only They Knew That We Understand


When the most severe conservative critics of Barack Obama’s approach to foreign policy imagine the president’s thought process, they probably imagine it going something like this:

“If I had a Muslim summit, I think that I can speak credibly to them about the fact that I respect their culture,” Obama said, “that I understand their religion, that I have lived in a Muslim country, and as a consequence I know it is possible to reconcile Islam with modernity and respect for human rights and a rejection of violence. And I think I can speak with added credibility.”

The trouble is, Obama actually said this, in an interview with Richard Wolffe, cited in Wolffe’s new book (and quote here). It is an unbelievable mix of arrogance and naiveté — of belief in the power of Obama’s persuasive power (building on his personal story, as so much does for him) and belief in the power of talk in general. All the troubles of the world are just a misunderstanding waiting to be explained out of existence by someone with the right personal narrative. Oh boy. 


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