Commentary Magazine


Hit the Road, Barack

Well, it appears that my colleagues here have already discussed the notion that within the first 100 days of his administration, Barack Obama will give a major foreign policy speech in a Muslim city — probably a capital. I’ll let others weigh the pros and cons of the notion, and limit myself to entertaining potential venues for such an address.

The first thought that came to mind was Mecca. James Taranto gives some good reasons why he favors Mecca, but there other, better reasons. For example, it will drive two groups of nuts absolutely bonkers. The fanatical Islamists will go ape at this non-Muslim (or, even worse, an apostate Muslim — there are some who say that Obama was once a Muslim, but renounced it) going to the Holy of Holies.

On the other hand, those who believe that Obama is some kind of crypto-Muslim will also lose it, and cry out that it this is, at last, the “proof” that he’s a Mohammedan in Christ’s clothing.

Anything that will drive those two groups almost has to be a good thing.

Plus, seeing the Saudis have to either cover up these signs or suffer the endless international press showing those signs getting blown past by Obama’s motorcade — and again, making the Saudis uncomfortable is almost never a bad thing.

The next city that came to mind was Baghdad. This would be a solid affirmation of the United States’ commitment to a free and democratic Iraq, as well as a thorough expression of gratitude and appreciation to the U.S. troops who have made such sacrifices to bring about the situation as it is now.

Then I thought of Damascus. Syria has been a pain for some time, and maybe a bit of the old Obama charm might do some good. Also, according to the Bible, a fellow named Saul had a pretty good experience on the road to Syria’s capital; maybe something similar will happen to Obama.

One must never overlook Tehran, either. Obama has pledged to engage in talks with Iran without preconditions; wouldn’t a presidential visit be a wonderful icebreaker? Perhaps the Iranians can commemorate his visit with a ceremonial stoning of some gays or the execution of some spying Israeli pigeons.

Of course, there’s always Islamabad. Obama pledged to track down Osama Bin Laden, no matter where he is, and rumor has it he’s in the hinterlands of Pakistan. What better sign to affirm his commitment than to travel to Pakistan’s capital and repeat that commitment? (The Secret Service might not appreciate the potential security hazards of such a trip, but some sacrifices have to be made, after all.)

Somalia is another Muslim nation (well, sort of a nation) that has been much in the news of late, with their bands of pirates. Besides, the U.S. hasn’t had a sizable presence in Mogadishu since the Clinton administration; maybe it should be considered?

On second thought, perhaps we should strike those last two. Should anything happen to President Elect Obama, we will be stuck with Joe Biden until January 2013 — and that is quite possibly the worst thing I can imagine for our nation.

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