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To Praise President Ghani, To Invite President Sisi

Mar 25, 2015

My special satisfaction was to be in the House chamber today, when my friend Ashraf Ghani – now after years of struggle the president of Afghanistan – addressed a joint session of Congress. So begins a fresh new day in the history of U.S.-Afghan relations.

Following an era of futility, in which Washington wrong-headedly backed the corrupt and ungrateful Hamid Karzai government, President Ghani could not have left a better impression. He committed his leadership to an Afghanistan fulfilling its own cultural promise with democracy, women’s rights, education, and, of critical importance to civilization itself, a reform within Islam comparable to Christianity’s own Reformation.

On this point President Ghani joins Egypt’s courageous new leader, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who has shown historic fortitude in demanding that Muslim leaders steer believers away from destructive patterns of repression and terrorism.

Such a reformation must come from within the Islamic world itself. Whereas we in the West must not interfere and overplay our hand with hubristic “guidance,” we must do all we can to encourage, support, and cooperate with brave Muslim advocates of peace and modernity within the Islamic world.

The world’s great, major religions must find ways to coexist and cooperate ethically, so that humankind may live in peace and practice freedom of belief.

I have asked Speaker John Boehner to invite Egyptian president el-Sisi to address a joint session at the soonest convenient date. My congressional colleagues can only benefit by exposure to his insights and determination – just as, today, they did by hearing Afghanistan’s President Ghani.