Instead, he talked about "communicating a message to the Arab world and the Muslim world that we are ready to initiate a new partnership based on mutual respect and mutual interest." He also responded to his interlocutor in ways that denigrated his predecessors, including by expressing his desire "to listen (and to) set aside some of the preconceptions that have existed and have built up over the last several years."
During the interview, Mr. Obama also spoke wistfully of the "respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago" and added, "There's no reason why we can't restore that."
Some will say it isn't fair to make our new commander in chief stick to the facts. That's the trouble with television interviews. They are on tape and stay around for years. If you are going to do them, it helps to know the facts. Let's see, 30 years ago -- 1979 -- the year that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned to Iran, the "Islamic Revolution" was proclaimed, the U.S. was first described as "the Great Satan," our embassy in Tehran, Iran, was sacked, and 53 Americans were held hostage for 444 days. That's probably not the kind of "respect" Mr. Obama had in mind.
How about 20 years ago -- 1989? While investigators still were combing the wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103 in Lockerbie, Scotland, Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi sent MiG-23s to attack a U.S. Navy carrier battle group in the Mediterranean Sea. Final score: U.S. Navy 2, Libya 0. Ayatollah Khomeini issued afatwa to kill Salman Rushdie. Islamic radicals murdered the president of Lebanon, and Saddam Hussein issued mobilization orders in preparation for invading Kuwait the following August. Some "partnership."
Unfortunately, the Al-Arabiya interview isn't the only troubling talk coming from the Obama administration that could well leave members of our all-volunteer force wondering just what is expected of them. In congressional testimony this week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that even though Afghanistan is the new commander in chief's "top priority," we also "ought to keep our objectives realistic and limited in Afghanistan."
I have spent my life in and around our military. Everyone I ever have known in our armed forces has believed in "realistic" missions and goals. But I've yet to meet a man or woman in uniform who is willing to sacrifice all for "respect," a "partnership" or a "limited objective."
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.