[Obama] spoke at length about America’s future relationship with the Muslim world, saying his “job is to communicate to the American people that the Muslim world is filled with extraordinary people who simply want to live their lives and see their children live better lives.”George Bush said exactly that innumerable times. When Bush said it, did they simply not believe it? Did they find it patronizing? Did it sound naive and insufficiently appreciative of multiculturalism?
“My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy. We sometimes make mistakes. We have not been perfect. But if you look at the track record, as you say, America was not born as a colonial power, and that the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago, there’s no reason why we can’t restore that. And that I think is going to be an important task....”There, we see Obama gratuitously saying that we've been disrespecting the Muslim world. That does seem to distinguish him from Bush. He's saying I won't be like Bush, but the way he can say it is only by portraying Bush as having behaved badly. I don't like to see this empty claim of discontinuity, this attack on Bush.
He drew a distinction between “extremist organizations” committed to violence and “people who may disagree with my administration and certain actions, or may have a particular viewpoint in terms of how their countries should develop.”Again, when did Bush ever take a contrary position?
“We can have legitimate disagreements but still be respectful. I cannot respect terrorist organizations that would kill innocent civilians and we will hunt them down,” he said. “But to the broader Muslim world what we are going to be offering is a hand of friendship.”
He also said it was “important for us to be willing to talk to Iran, to express very clearly where our differences are, but where there are potential avenues for progress.”Presumably, there is something different here. "Willing to talk" — he's been saying that for a while, but he's no longer saying "without preconditions," as he did once, caught off guard, in a debate.
He echoed his inaugural address last week when he said, “If countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us.”Good thing no one asked him a hard question.
He was not asked whether he would continue the policy of former President George Bush in refusing to exclude military action in the dispute over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.