President Obama offered a new tone but little substance. He proclaimed that “we are ready to initiate a new partnership based on mutual respect and mutual interest.” But he displayed amazing naivete in defining what those common interests are, suggesting that al-Qaeda leaders “seemed nervous” because their ideas are bankrupt: “There’s no actions that they’ve taken that say a child in the Muslim world is getting a better education because of them, or has better health care because of them.”
This statement reveals an enormous misunderstanding of the ideological roots of Islamist terrorism and a shocking lack of respect for the powerful motivating force of the idea of jihad for al-Qaeda supporters. The President implies that a better education policy or health care plan will inevitably doom al-Qaeda, as if that terrorist network is competing like a political party to benefit Muslim voters rather than trying to violently impose its radical ideas on people that it views as misguided Muslims.
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