Eh. American pride is smart retail politics, especially vis-a-vis Islam — according to CNN’s latest poll, the Muslim world is viewed less favorably in the U.S. now than it was in 2002 — but even so, this is a missed opportunity. Rather than Hannitized boilerplate about America being a force for good, Mitt should have explained why, given the irreconcilable differences in the Middle East and the entrenched jihadist elements that benefit from conflict, an apology won’t accomplish much of anything except flattering the left’s dogma about “root causes.” Instead he resorts to an argument about how self-abasement projects weakness, which may be true; but it’s also true that some kids who are flirting with radicalism might think twice after hearing it. How to quantify which of the two is likelier? It reminds me of the argument over whether to use drones in Pakistan, which the left is forever telling us only breeds more terrorists (or rather, they used to tell us that when Bush was giving the orders). That may be true too — but what if the drone strikes are killing more jihadis than they’re creating? Debates about unknowable numbers aren’t terribly interesting.

If he does apologize, doubtless it’ll be in the form of a “both sides are at fault” wheeze. I’m not expecting much, and neither are Muslims:

Beirut-based analyst Paul Salem, who heads the Carnegie Middle East Centre, said he expected Arabs to be disappointed by Obama’s speech.

“What they want him to say is more than what he’s going to say,” he said.

“They want him to say that he’s going to come down hard on the Israelis, that he’s going to confront the settlement policy and that he’s going to push the Israelis to withdraw from the West Bank.

“Of course that is what every Arab would like to hear.”

Yes, truly, the key to a new golden age of Israeli/Hamas/Hezbollah/Iran/Wahhabist relations is withdrawal from the West Bank. Just like disengagement from Gaza was a few years ago. Go for the gold, Barry. Exit question from Dick Morris: Why isn’t The One stopping in Israel during his trip?