(cross-posted at kickin it with cg)
On the way to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia the New York Times is reporting that President Obama told Laura Haim on Canal Plus, a French television station, that the “United States also could be considered as ‘one of the largest Muslim countries in the world.'”
This comment, predictably, has set off some controversy. Case in point is Robert Spencer of Jihadwatch, who asks “what planet is he on?” Answers Mark Leon Goldberg,
I’m guessing “earth.” Because according to the Pew Research Center, there are an estimated 2.35 million Muslims in Amerca. This means that if the United States were a member of the 57 nation Organization of the Islamic Conferences it would rank, in terms of Muslim population, above Albania, Kuwait, Brunei, Benin, Togo, Djbouti, Suriname, Gabon, Gambia, Guyana, Guinea-Bissau, Comoros, Qatar, Lebanon, and the Maldives.
Obama went on to say:
“What I want to do is to create a better dialogue so that the Muslim world understands more effectively how the United States, but also how the West thinks about many of these difficult issues like terrorism, like democracy, to discuss the framework for what’s happened in Iraq and Afghanistan and our outreach to Iran, and also how we view the prospects for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians,”
“I think the most important thing I want to tell young people is that, regardless of your faith, those who build as opposed to those who destroy I think leave a lasting legacy, not only for themselves but also for their nations. And the impulse towards destruction as opposed to how can we study science and mathematics and restore the incredible scientific and knowledge – the output that came about during centuries of Islamic culture.
After 8 years of clumsy buffoonery – I guess this is what real diplomatic efforts look like.