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Two Bad Approaches from Barack Obama

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President Barack Obama, and his Administration, have pursued two bad approaches recently.  The first of these resulted from the underlying message of his highly-touted speech in Egypt, intended to establish a new, postive relationship with Muslims around the world and particularly in the Middle East.  Those good intentions, however, were fatally flawed by the President´s approach, which fails to understand that Muslims respect only strength, a strength not displayed by his obvious pandering to them and to their interests in the speech.

Talking about the Quran as a holy book, which of course it is to Muslims, fails to make clear that it is not America´s holy book.  While that truth is obvious to us, it is not at all obvious to believers in Sharia Law, which the Quran promotes.  Making the Quran the law of the land in Western nations is a high aspiration of Moslem extremists, and the President has now encouraged them.   Nations should never be compared to religions, that is flawed logic.

On top of such pandering, castigating Israel during his speech in Egypt will cause further intransigence on both sides.  By publicly demanding an end to Israeli construction on the West Bank, the President sends a clear signal to the Arab nations that we are taking Israel to our woodshed for a whipping.  That will cause them to demand even more of Israel than in the recent past.  Meanwhile, the Israelis will understandably stiffen their resistance to those demands, and be less likely to reduce West Bank construction.

The second bad idea coming from the Obama Administration recently is the proposal to shortcut justice for some Guantanamo detainees facing capital charges and let them plead guilty, presumably in return for a death penalty.  The illogic that some of them seek martyrdom and so we should give it to them is truly bizarre.  The real purpose for trading a gulty plea for a likely death sentence is to prevent the facts of just what was done to those detainees, such as torture, deprivation, etc., to ever become public.

Where is the vaunted ´transparency´which President Obama endorsed so strongly during his campaign?  Coming on the heels of his refusal to release the remaining photos of prisoner abuse by Americans at Abu Graib and elsewhere, his administration is becoming increasingly opaque when it comes to the vital 'right to know' which he promised to all Americans.  Stating that while military courts may require trials in capital cases, some state courts do not, is using one bad example to justify another; two wrongs do not make a right, they merely deny the fundamental right of fair trials to detainees.

The Obama Administration should rush to ´clarify´ their leader´s speech in Egypt, so that America conveys a stance of strength rather than one of weakness to the Moslem world.  Yes, we need far better relationships than those damaged so severely by the Bush administration -- but pandering and enouraging their further demands upon Israel is not the way to achieve those relationships, which must be based on mutual respect.  And any proposals to shortcut justice for Guantanamo detainees, particularly those charged with capital crines, should be dropped at once.  America must remain a nation under law, with full justice for all, even for those with stories we may not want to hear.  Our Constitution, and our honor, demand no less.

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Author's Biography Eugene Elander has been a progressive social and political activist for decades. As an author, he won the Young Poets Award at 16 from the Dayton Poets Guild for his poem, The Vision. He was chosen Poet Laureate of (more...)

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