Barack Obama likes to pat himself on the back regarding his ability to see both sides of an issue. It's through this willingness to listen to both sides, he says, that he comes up with the smartest answers — fair, objective and balanced.
At his town hall meeting with Turkish college students in Istanbul, Obama delivered the same listen-to-both-sides message, telling the students not to reflexively dismiss Israel's concerns.
"In the Muslim world, this notion that somehow everything is the fault of the Israelis lacks balance, because there's two sides to every question," said Obama. "That doesn't mean that sometimes one side has done something wrong and should not be condemned. But it does mean there's always two sides to an issue. I say the same thing to my Jewish friends, which is you have to see the perspective of the Palestinians."
On the rest of his trip, however, Obama seemed to forget his own advice, especially when he was talking about the United States.
Addressing a crowd of some 2,000 in Strasbourg, France, mainly students from France and Germany, Mr. Obama said: "In America, there is a failure to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world. Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive."
What he didn't say, but should have if he wanted to give both sides, is that the grandparents and parents of those French students in Strasbourg would have most likely ended up speaking German, and then Russia, if it weren't for American "arrogance" and America effectively playing the "leading role in the world."
Or Obama could have explained that the non-arrogant and non-imperial grandparents and parents of those French students in Strasbourg, without the help of American power and command, might well have been laid to rest by invading hordes of German Nazis, and then Russians, and that the aforementioned students themselves might never have been created and, subsequently, never had the chance to sit arrogantly and condescendingly around in the coffee shops discussing America's too-dominant role in the world.
In Prague, speaking of his vision of a world without nuclear weapons, Obama noted that "as a nuclear power, as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act." What he didn't say is that no small number of scholars have said that the bombing of Hiroshima might well have saved a million lives by ending World War II without an invasion of Japan.
Speaking to the Turkish Parliament, Obama said that he was the leader of a country that "not too long ago made it hard for someone like me to vote." If he wanted to give both sides, he could have brought up the story of how Aimee du Buc de Rivery, a 13-year-old girl who was returning to her homeland, Martinique, after being educated in a French convent, was captured on the high seas in 1788 by Muslim pirates and presented as a gift, a slave, to Abdul Hamid, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire in Turkey.
Obama could have also reminded his audience that it was non-American, pro-imperialism Rudyard Kipling, born in British India, educated in England, who wrote "The White Man's Burden."
Producing the loudest cheers in the Turkish Parliament, Obama stated, "Let me say this as clearly as I can. The United States is not at war with Islam." To give both sides, he should have added, clearly, that the jihadist branch of Islam is at war with the United States, otherwise known as the Great Satan.. Or he could have just shown the audience one of al Zawahiri's spooky tapes, like "Death to America, Part 62."
Adding to his discussion of group victimhood in America, Obama said that "our country still struggles with the legacy of our past treatment of Native Americans." Again, where's the other side? Why didn't he explain that it was the Europeans who invaded the Indians and the Americans who gave them free Bingo licenses and tax-free Malboros? The Table Mountain Rancheria casino in California, for instance, is reportedly bringing in more than $350,000 per year for each tribe member of the Monos and Chukchansis.
Other than complaining about the United States on his trip, Obama asked North Korea to abandon its "provocative" launch of a long-range rocket. They said no. Obama asked for more NATO combat troops in Afghanistan to match the surge of 21,000 Americans. They said no. He wanted more stimulus spending from France and Germany. They said no. From Russia, Obama wanted help in stopping Iran's nukes. They said no.
The successes? Obama wanted the Europeans to take some Guantanamo prisoners. Austria and Germany said no. France said they'd take one.