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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Obama attempts to build support in the Islamic world with a speech in Cairo

U.S. President Barack Obama attempted to "seek a new beginning" in the relationship between America and the Islamic world with a speech in Cairo on Thursday. To his credit, the president addressed many of the issues that have divided Muslims and the west, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, America's use of torture tactics, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Iran's nuclear weapons program.

Obama is a great orator and there was little doubt in my mind that he would deliver a good speech full of high-minded rhetoric. But as the old saying goes, actions speak loader than words. The true test of Obama's plan to reach out to the Muslims will be shown by his Middle East policies and not his words.

Unfortunately, more often than not, Middle East policy is a zero sum game. Iran's nuclear weapons program comes into direct conflict with Obama's naive vision of "a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons." Israel's desire for peace and security conflicts with the desire of Hamas to drive all the Jews into the sea. Likewise, Obama's goal of ending Islamic extremism does not mesh well with bin Laden's desire to wage jihad on America.

Obama did address America's relationship with Israel, an alliance that has made it many enemies in the Islamic world. "America's strong bonds with Israel are well known," said Obama. Will he be able to continue this relationship without further inflaming Muslims?

Resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict is a noble goal and one that should be taken up by any administration. This is an issue, however, which has been on the agenda of many other presidents, all of whom have tried and failed to implement a lasting peace in the region. Is Obama so naive as to believe he will succeed where so many others have failed?

America's relationship with Israel has already been strained by the administration's insistence that Israel halt the development of settlements and adopt a two state solution. Trying to balance America's new relationship with Islam while supporting its traditional allies, such as Israel, is a goal that is unlikely to succeed.

Eventually, Obama will be faced with the geopolitical realities of the situation in the Middle East and will be forced to pick sides. First, he will have to reconcile his goal of "two states where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security" with the fact that a hostile terrorist organization controls the Gaza Strip and is unlikely to live in peace with either Israel or Fatah. More importantly, Obama will eventually have to deal with the situation in Iran.

The Iranian president has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" and the Islamic nation is currently pursuing weapons that would make this possible. There is little doubt that Israel will not allow this to happen. If the U.S. is unable to halt the Iranian nuclear weapons program, Israel will be forced to take military action in order to prevent it. It is also in America's national interest to prevent the Iranians from getting the bomb. Israel will ask for American support in such an endeavour and the president will be forced to choose between acting in the best interest of America and its allies and building a stronger relationship with the Islamic world.

It is hard to tell what effect the speech will have at this point in time. Improving the relationship between Islam and the west and bringing peace to the Middle East are great foreign policy goals. However, until such words are backed up by innovative policies, they are nothing more than empty rhetoric.

You can watch the full speech via the player below.

Posted by Jesse Kline on June 4, 2009 in International Politics | Permalink

Comments

Toby Harnden, the Telegraph's US editor pretty much sums up Hussain Obama's speech. You really have to question the intelligence of Americans when they voted this fraud in.

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/toby_harnden/blog/2009/06/04/barack_obamas_10_mistakes_in_cairo

Posted by: The Stig | 2009-06-04 7:35:26 PM


Which Iranian nuclear weapons program? Where is the evidence? I only know about their nuclear energy program which is safeguarded by the IAEA. The IAEA recently confirmed the continued non-diversion of Iranian nuclear materials.

Do you know something I don't?

Posted by: Kalim Kassam | 2009-06-04 8:30:31 PM


Mr. Kline,

"[...] Resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict is a noble goal and one that should be taken up by any administration. This is an issue, however, wich has been on the agenda of many other presidents, all of whom have tried and failed to implement a lasting peace in the region. Is Obama so naive as to believe he will succeed where so many others have failed [...]".

You may sleep well tonight…
No one will ever accuse you of being too enthusiastic.

Even if naive, the move set a ground for diplomacy and this would ease off the tensions in the region for a while. Only a fool or a very biaised person would not be happy with the speech he gave today.

Given your style, I know for a fact you are not a fool.

*

"Lower quality version"

Oh you are good!

Posted by: Marc | 2009-06-04 9:38:06 PM


Which Iranian nuclear weapons program? Where is the evidence? I only know about their nuclear energy program which is safeguarded by the IAEA. The IAEA recently confirmed the continued non-diversion of Iranian nuclear materials.

The U.S. has been accusing Iran of trying to produce nuclear weapons since 1995. In 2004, the IAEA said Iran was not cooperating with its inspections and accused Iran of violating the NPT in 2005. In 2006, Iran broke IAEA seals on its nuclear research site and was reported to the security council. While I don't have any intelligence saying they are working on a nuclear weapons program, they have been accused of such by both Israel and the U.S. These countries have the top spy agencies in the world.

Iran also continues to test long-range missiles and talks about destroying Israel. There is little doubt in my mind that they are pursuing the technology to do just that.

Posted by: Jesse Kline | 2009-06-04 10:10:09 PM



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