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Obama's Post-Neocon Appeal to Islam


Obama in Cairo. (Getty Images)

In a much-anticipated speech, President Obama in Cairo today called for a fundamental resetting of the relationship between America and Islam, acknowledging a long estrangement that he said dramatically degenerated after the 9/11 attacks led some Americans to see all of Islam as the enemy and incited our government to take actions that violated our own ideals.

"The attacks of September 11th, 2001 and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights. This has bred more fear and mistrust," he said.

But, he argued: "So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, and who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. And this cycle of suspicion and discord must end.

"I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles - principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings."

The first American president with personal connections to Islam -- through his father, a childhood spent partially in Indonesia, and his middle name -- said he considers it "part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear."

And Obama soundly rejected the neoconservative principles and fear-spawned overreactions that so defined the George W. Bush administration's approach to the Muslim world.

He cast the Iraq war as a profound refutation of the neocon axiom that the exercise of power itself projects strength and leads to impregnability: "Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world," he said. "Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible. Indeed, we can recall the words of Thomas Jefferson, who said: 'I hope that our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be.'"

He rejected the notion that democracy can be achieved at the barrel of a gun: "[L]et me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other," he said.

And while stopping well short of delivering an apology, Obama acknowledged that strong emotional reactions at the highest levels of government led America to briefly abandon its values. "[J]ust as America can never tolerate violence by extremists, we must never alter our principles," he said. "9/11 was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our traditions and our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change course. I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year."

It was a wide-ranging speech that touched on issues of war and peace, violence and nonviolence, democracy, religious freedom, economic development and women's rights. The standing ovation Obama received from the crowd was a powerful contrast with the tossed shoes that greeted Bush's last speech in the region.

And time and again, Obama returned to the theme that truth-telling was the answer to the most stubborn problems -- including the issue of peace between Israel, the Palestinians, and the Arab world.

Despite all the build-up, Obama said "no single speech can eradicate years of mistrust nor can I answer in the time that I have this afternoon all the complex questions that brought us to this point. But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly the things we hold in our hearts, and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground."

He described in vivid language the history of the Jews that led to their desire for a homeland -- and issued a powerful denunciation of Holocaust deniers. But he also spoke movingly of the plight of the Palestinians, and ascribed the current stalemate to "two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive."

Obama didn't put forth any new peace plan -- choosing instead to restate the principles he's been developing over the last several weeks. But he seemed to see a great deal of hope in the truths that lie beneath what in a recent interview with Thomas L. Friedman he called the region's "Kabuki dance."

"America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs," he said. "We cannot impose peace. But privately, many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away. Likewise, many Israelis recognize the need for a Palestinian state. It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true."

And Obama's reference to the history of African Americans somehow made his plea to the Palestinian people to end the cycle of violence seem fresh and particularly potent. "Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and it does not succeed," he said. "For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America's founding."

Obama ended his speech by embracing a principle that, oddly and ironically, seems particularly radical today in the region that is the birthplace of religions. "There is also one rule that lies at the heart of every religion," he said, " - that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. This truth transcends nations and peoples - a belief that isn't new; that isn't black or white or brown; that isn't Christian, or Muslim or Jew. It's a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization, and that still beats in the heart of billions. It's a faith in other people, and it's what brought me here today."

All in all, it was a hugely idealistic speech that took its strength from its embrace of reality. And it was a speech that was memorable for Obama's dream for the region: "A world where extremists no longer threaten our people, and American troops have come home; a world where Israelis and Palestinians are each secure in a state of their own, and nuclear energy is used for peaceful purposes; a world where governments serve their citizens, and the rights of all God's children are respected."

By Dan Froomkin  |  June 4, 2009; 10:20 AM ET
Categories:  Middle East  
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Comments

Now that's a vision for peace.

I think too that Obama's priorities are correct, in how he was most specific about three regions: Afghanistan/Pakistan, where the terrorists can most easily hide and could gain access to nuclear weapons; Iraq, which we invaded and mismanaged; and Israel/Palestine, probably the single most important issue in the Mideast. Those three areas are our highest immediate international priorities (and I'm not minimizing North Korea or Iran).

Aspiration has met reality. Thank you, Mr. President.

Posted by: whizbang9a | June 4, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

I am very proud of our President for clearly expressing our common and universal hopes.
May this be the first major step to peace and respect for all peoples.
Obama has certainly upset bin Laden into 'reacting' instead of driving America's policies and that is good news.

Posted by: susants | June 4, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

We've seen a great example of the "Kabuki Dance" with Israel's insistence this week that although they are violating the public terms of the peace agreement, they were assured in private that they could continue building settlements. The notion that we broker an agreement while secretly giving concessions to one side is just terrible for everyone's credibility. The U.S. and Israel are caught in a lie and the Palestinians look weak for believing the lie.

Posted by: fletc3her | June 4, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

This is getting ridiculous. How many great speeches can one guy make?
Thank you Mr. President for making us all very proud. You give much hope to very many all over.
The speech I thought struck a fine balance between reality, ideals and a vison going forward and rejected fear, backward looking and extremism. It acknowledged faults including our own and in my view while rejecting the process of overt interventionism was committed to pushing the parties towards a solution (Israel/Palestine) with consequences if one did not. This was subtlety done when he said that America would be on the side of those actively seeking peace. Watch your step Netanyahu & Hamas.

Posted by: mendonsa | June 4, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

"All in all, it was a hugely idealistic speech that took its strength from its embrace of reality."

How refreshing!

Posted by: aevans11 | June 4, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

I believe obama's speech made things worse...
watch for the smoke...
it's coming...

Posted by: DwightCollins | June 4, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Ok Dwight, you can’t just say something like that and leave the room. How did it make things worse?

Posted by: m_mcmahon | June 4, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

His speeches are so frequent and so far reaching, they have become nothing more than a distance buzz. Why doesn't the ChosenOne spend more time on trying to really run our country? Oh, that's right, all he knows how to do is look good and read from a telepromter.

Posted by: mmourges | June 4, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Now the hard part comes. Standing up to the military-industrial complex, the Pentagon, the rabidly pro-Israel-screw-everyone-else mainstream media, Jane Harman, Joe Lieberman and all the Israeli spies, the financial sector and brainwashed southern Christian fundamentalists. I wish you a miracle, Mr. President.

Posted by: LucyLou1 | June 4, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

The president is once proving why the voters voted for him. Americans are tired of politicians who lack wisdom and common sense and try to solve all problems with force. The president is paving the road for those who want peace to follow it. No roadblocks or misleading road directions to follow,very simple and very realistic.The president is leading by example by going down the same road, now we must wait and see who follows him, a leader leads by example. If those who seek peace don't follow his lead and he fails, than they can't complain when the stick is being used.

Posted by: Realistic2 | June 4, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

We can certainly expect a bitter and hateful response to this aspirational speech in a critical part of the world. And certainly the media will give an inordinate amount of time to the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Anne Coulter, Newt Gingrich and others.

But the yapping of the radical wrong wing of the Republicon Party will not impede the progress that people of goodwill can achieve, even in the Middle East.

Reacting to the reactionaries is like shouting at the waves while ignoring the tide.

The Arabs have a saying that applies to the peddlars of fear:

"The dog barks, but the caravan moves on."

Posted by: motorfriend | June 4, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

The only people Obama's speech made things "worse" for are the ones who've been profiting from the lies, dissembling, and double-standards of the last 30 years of Middle East policy.

The President's job is not to "run the country." His job is to define a coherenet vision, inspire support, and hire competent people to execute his priorities. Whether or not you agree with his agenda, he's doing that very well.

Everyone uses a teleprompter these days. At least Obama can successfully read one, probably because he understands his subject matter in detail.

Aside from the usual pro-Israeli (and anti-Obama) groups within the U.S., the critical element of Middle East peace will be the desire, will and ability of Arab and Israeli governments to curb the activities of their own extrememts.

Obama has established the new rules. Let the games begin.

Posted by: Gallenod | June 4, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Gallenod, motorfriend, Realistic2, and especially mendonsa....are you people for real? Do you seriously buy into this, "OMG, he's sooooo smart" nonsense given off by a few star-crossed reporters and so-called journalists? That speech bordered on disgraceful, and there's no two ways about it. How can you not know that?!!! Are you THAT blinded by your hate for Bush, Cheney, Rush, and for the right? This "president" is the most ignorant, naive leader since Chamberlain. I honestly marvel at the extremely dim posts from you Obama worshipers. Do you have anything else in your lives? Perhaps it's time to stop praying to that picture of Barry on a cross and pick up a hobby? Preferably, something that doesn't involve hate.

One positive thing....at least your king didn't bow to the other king this time. Perhaps to your disappointment?

Posted by: Fletch834 | June 4, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

So long as Obama continues our wars, our military will sow hatred rather than peace, and will promote conflict rather than cooperation.

More empty rhetoric by Obama.
He is just a tool of the American Empire.

Posted by: matthewbnelson | June 4, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

What's that sound? That's neocons committing suicide en mass. Stick a fork in them. They're done.

Posted by: August30 | June 4, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Actually, fletch834, can you read? Did you bother to go through the text? How about any of his other speeches...ever tried to read them? Or one of his books? (I'd like to see you try to write one.)

What Obama did this morning in Cairo was the same thing he's done on several occasions before: acknowledge the grievances of several different parties involved in one or more issues. I suppose you have a fundamentally different understanding of the mideast, one which exposes Obama's as being so childish? If so, what is it? We'd love to read it...but you don't have one.

Other than, perhaps, the supremely ignorant Cheney-Bush axiom of "my way or the highway", which looks even sillier when they were slaves to the Israel lobby. There will be no peace in the Mideast without concessions on every side--and even then, it'll be difficult to accomplish. That's part of the basic essence of Obama's speech this morning.

Or did you not get that?

Posted by: whizbang9a | June 4, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Do those star-crossed posters here really think the world is made better from this tele-prompter delivered drivel in Cairo?

Did any of you actually look at the reactions to the speech, other than the presidential 'lap dogs' like froomkin, EJ, and Mr. Avacado?

Both Bush's and Clinton worked harder for middle east peace, but the last we've seen is Hammas gained political power in Palestine, and began launching rockets into Israel for weeks.

Obama has one thing right... this speech will not change minds overnight... but even with centuries of talking and numerous concessions by the Israelies, their situation is still not peaceful. This is a prime example that diplomacy has not worked. Talking and talking has not netted much peace here

In fact, I would like someone to show where true diplomacy has actually solve disputes on a relatively permanent basis. In recent history, it has not worked unless some military force was significantly involved.

Posted by: alutz08 | June 4, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Another brilliant comment, August30. That's why Beck, Hannity, O'Reilly, Rush, Gretchen, and Monica completely destroy and embarrass the competition on the radio/television. And their numbers continue to climb, proving your point. Actually, it completely refutes your point. You may not like the truth, but you cannot deny it.

Gloat and enjoy your time. It will be short-lived.

Posted by: Fletch834 | June 4, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately whizbang.... Obama did not sit at a computer and write his books from cover to cover. He had a ton of help of writers who crafted thoughts and bits of information into something that is a sensible arrangement of words and text. Obama's lack of being able to speak what he believes without a teleprompter really shows how he has a false front and is not as off the cuff eloquent. He needed telepromters to introduce political appointments for cryin out loud. How can a person not know who he is introducing and why?

Posted by: alutz08 | June 4, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Question to August.... why does CNN and MSNBC cable shows routinely get poor ratings and don't ever improve over its years of existence?

Posted by: alutz08 | June 4, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

To all the people out there who are critical of our President, I ask one small favor: Please take a brief moment and imagine that this speech and this outreach could be the beginning in an incredible transformation in the relationship between two parts of the world who don't really appreciate each other. This IS an historic moment that may very well prove to be transformative.

This could easily be much bigger than Nixon opening China and even rival the fall of the Soviet Union. I'm not saying that this will be that moment, but it could be...it very well could be!

Then ask yourself, where were you on this topic? How did you perceive it at the time? History is being made before our eyes, don't be so ready to jump to conclusions!

Posted by: farkdawg | June 4, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

"...rejected the notion that democracy can be achieved at the barrel of a gun: "[L]et me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other," he said."

The U.S.A. was initiated with a written plan, but achieved with war.

Posted by: yampa708 | June 4, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Fletch834, I apologize for not prefixing my remarks with "I am a bit biased"!!

But after the previous eight years of cheap demagoguery, juvenile and criminal response to problems (internal or external) by a leadership who in reality combined intellectual laziness with cowardly/kneejerk instincts in the use of America's power, do excuse my somewhat effusive delight in at least hearing our President articulate a vision of peace and mature approach to problem solving.

Now apart from all the personal attacks you managed in your post, I noticed you had no suggestions to the contrary. Wait, let me guess: More fear, loathing and healthy dose of tax cuts for the very wealthy.

ps..what do you think Chamberlain should have done?

Posted by: mendonsa | June 4, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

I know yall think you're clever, but really, when you refer to The One, the Chosen One, or teleprompters, it's a dead giveaway you've got Obama Derangement Syndrome. You might as well save your bits, because nobody here takes anything you say seriously.

Posted by: chris15 | June 4, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Fletch834 | June 4, 2009 1:30 PM

Gallenod, motorfriend, Realistic2, and especially mendonsa....are you people for real? Do you seriously buy into this, "OMG, he's sooooo smart" nonsense given off by a few star-crossed reporters and so-called journalists?
________________________________________

How is it nonsense to say Obama is smart? He graduated Law School, and in his final year edited the Law Review. That's does take brains right?

*****************************************

That speech bordered on disgraceful, and there's no two ways about it. How can you not know that?!!!
__________________________________________

Please tell us how you decided the speech was disgraceful. Is it because he admitted that America has made mistakes? Because he said Israel is not perfect? I call it being honest. (And don't bothering calling me an anti-Semite.)

******************************************

Are you THAT blinded by your hate for Bush, Cheney, Rush, and for the right?
_________________________________________

I don't hate Bush, Cheney, et al. I just have no respect for a gov't and administration that got a country into a war based on lies and deceptions. And besides, hate is a waste of energy.

******************************************

This "president" is the most ignorant, naive leader since Chamberlain.

__________________________________________

Once again, I ask for detailed information which led to your conclusions.

*******************************************

I honestly marvel at the extremely dim posts from you Obama worshipers. Do you have anything else in your lives? Perhaps it's time to stop praying to that picture of Barry on a cross and pick up a hobby? Preferably, something that doesn't involve hate.
_________________________________________

The only hate I have seen in posts has been the hate from people who seem to think that the US can continue it's policies of alienating more of the world, and then wonder why the world looks and laughs.

*******************************************

One positive thing....at least your king didn't bow to the other king this time. Perhaps to your disappointment?

_____________________________________________

Yesterday, upon arriving in Saudi Arabia I once again saw the President nod his head in acknowledgment of the King. Same as he did before.

********************************************
Of course, there are no solid points here, only Obama bashing.

Posted by: alysheba_3 | June 4, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Yampa - You are right except we were holding the gun, not at the barrel end of it!

Posted by: farkdawg | June 4, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

"acknowledging a long estrangement that he said dramatically degenerated after the 9/11 attacks led some Americans to see all of Islam as the enemy and incited our government to take actions that violated our own ideals."

Froomkin -- and Obama -- really ought to look into the Barbary Pirate wars sometime. Islam has been at war with America since the moment America came into existence as an "infidel" nation. Unilaterally declaring a "new start" with an ideology that predicates its violence on a centuries old book is silly. Unless the book or its interpretations are changed, nothing else will change.

Posted by: zippyspeed | June 4, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

If you equate radio and TV ratings to the worth of someone's argument, alutz08, then consider Jerry Springer and Geraldo, who've been on TV for a long time now. Howard Stern's a popular guy. Perhaps you'd be swayed by him to let lesbians and strippers run things?

Perhaps Obama did have some help writing his books, though I doubt it's to the extent that you claim so emptily. (For that matter, do you think George Will composes every last word of everything that appears in his name? Do you think he has every last quote in his head, or that he even bothers to look them all up? If you do, you're pretty gullible.) But after all, Obama also composed hundreds of lectures on law. He's probably developed some ideas on the roles of law and society relative to the people who live within them. (And why the pique at a teleprompter? Should everyone today be like Cicero, and memorize every speech? Let's see Bush or Cheney, or you for that matter, try that with anything over half a page. Or even that much.)

Besides, the heaviest criticisms on this page are all ignoring one of the first things Obama said this morning: one speech, or speeches in general, won't change things. If you're so intent on calling Obama a dreaming softy who wants to sprinkle his eloquent fairy dust all over the world, then why is he the one president to openly call out Israel on settlements? Sure sounds like a shrinking flower to me.

You can't even call the accusations on this thread intellectually incoherent. That presupposes intellect.

Posted by: whizbang9a | June 4, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and zippyspeed--read the whole Koran before you go trying to categorize the religion. Using your standards, one could say that the USA is at war with virtually the entire world.

Posted by: whizbang9a | June 4, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Dan, you are right to call this a "post-Neocon" speech. It's a little unreal: we have gone from a leader who blunders his way through talk of "crusades" and promises to resolve the middle east impasse in a year (hah! neocon clowns in the oval office!) to our eloquent and thoughtful leader. This new approach, like most of what Obama has done so far, shows that he is a realist, and compromise will always be the primary tactic. For Bush and the Neocons it was "my way or the highway". Thus the mess we are in today.

Posted by: gposner | June 4, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

But after the previous eight years of cheap demagoguery, juvenile and criminal response to problems (internal or external) by a leadership who in reality combined intellectual laziness with cowardly/knee jerk instincts in the use of America's power, do excuse my somewhat effusive delight in at least hearing our President articulate a vision of peace and mature approach to problem solving.

------------
Right, this also unfortunately characterizing the military and CIA who aided and abetted them.

But people forget what US policy, even military policy (with expcetion, of course), traditionally is -- maybe there is a need to remember pre "neocon infiltrate," so to speak.

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | June 4, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Bearing in mind that most Arab nations are not democracies, it was a hope building type of speech. They are in large part autocratic 'royal' families, the same type of rule that led to so many European wars, and eventually the American Revolutionary War. Some refer to 'royal' rule as gang rule. Until such time that certain nations allow their people to vote and choose 'fearless', connected leader, just about all we can do in the 'west' is wait and watch.... in hope.

Posted by: deepthroat21 | June 4, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Fletch, I'm hardly a starry-eyed Obama worshiper.

I'm a 20-year veteran of the U.S. military who served during two conflicts and I have two masters degrees.

If I deplore what happened on Bush Jr.'s watch and admire what Obama is trying to do to clean up the mess, my opinions are based on some real-world experience (including living overseas for a while) and some semblance of an education.

Obama's on the right track for most things so far, as least in terms of attention and intentions. We'll see how it works out.

Posted by: Gallenod | June 4, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

The appraoch of his adminstration is clearly different from that of the big-mouthed neocons. I think, and hope, it's more indicative of an intelligent approach, making him superior to those terrorist countries who would bait a guy like Cheney into one mistake after another.

It's early, yet, of course, and all progress comes in baby-steps, but it's interesting to see how this fleshes out when the US behaves a little more courageously and intelligently in face of threats.

I'm not sure bombs frighten a country like a NK, esp. when Kim is nuts, and US intellect is seen as being no more than Dick "the Red Baron" Cheney.

OTOH, awareness of a superior intelligence at work is harder to game.

It's a new photograph if you will, something interesting for a change.

And future energy independence goes a very very long way...

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | June 4, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Wingnuts of Amerika, Unite!

Dick and Liz are signalling you and the spaceship will be by to pick you up soon.

Keep your powder dry, your attenna tuned and your muskets locked and loaded for an important announcement from your fearless leaders for the next Crusade.

They are not quite finished ruining this country yet but with your help they are confident they can do so.

All Power to the Uber Wealthy!
All Praise and Glory to the Torturers!
God Bless the United Emirates of Cheney.

Posted by: Patriot3 | June 4, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

In fact, I would like someone to show where true diplomacy has actually solve disputes on a relatively permanent basis. In recent history, it has not worked unless some military force was significantly involved.

Posted by: alutz08 | June 4, 2009 1:58 PM |

Umm...Ever heard of the Camp David accords? They were signed in the late 70s and have provided a permanant peace between Egypt and Israel. Idiot!

Posted by: NMModerate1 | June 4, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

It was a wonderful speech.

Even if al-Qaeda continues to get more than 90 percent of their funding, their volunteers, and their religious madrassas filled with fanatical hate-filled Wahhabi texts from Saudi Arabia.

Maybe we should just use a carrot and stick approach and stop all payments and loans to Israel, Palestine, and Egypt until they actually stop blaming each other and achieve real and lasting peace?

Posted by: WillSeattle | June 4, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

I believe obama's speech made things worse...
watch for the smoke...
it's coming...

Posted by: DwightCollins

==

Another wall-punching GOP jerk hoping for a terrorist attack so his party of sickoes and cretins has a route back to power through fear, since they have no way back through ideas.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | June 4, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

I haven't figured out which neo-con cite the cretins are getting their marching orders from this afternoon, but the expression you all need to correct is "star struck," not "star-crossed."

Is there no end to your ignorance?

Posted by: abqcleve | June 4, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Today's poster banter, complete with insults, preconceived ideological "gotchas" and inane ranting, sounds like a verbal version of the very middle east conflicts (particularly the Arab-Israeli impasse) that the President would ultimately like to resolve.

Posted by: MillPond2 | June 4, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Haven't heard about Chamberlain for a while.

Obama is nothing like Chamberlain, Bush is. Chamberlain was a man exactly like Bush, insulated from and disinterested in anyone not already in agreement with him, surrounded by sycophants and yes-men, more interested in presenting his own vision of things and in reality.

Obama has a voracious appetite for other viewpoints.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | June 4, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Another note, chrisfox8--Obama, like Churchill and not Chamberlain, is a writer. Churchill was the 20th century's greatest statesman/writer, and he ranks with any in history--he set a pretty high standard. But he shared with Obama a finely-tuned sense of history. (If you're not already interested in World War II, Churchill's series on it will turn you into a maven. And his History of the English-Speaking Peoples is equally fascinating.)

Posted by: whizbang9a | June 4, 2009 9:35 PM | Report abuse

As Adam Smith correctly observed in "The Wealth of Nations," it is not from the butcher's or the baker's good intentions that we expect our dinner.


Deeds are needed, not honeyed words.

Posted by: cristca9 | June 5, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Dwight's talking out his ass. For the first time in 8 years bin Laden is actually having to play defense by trying to tie Obama to Bush. Like the rest of the world, he recognizes that Obama's new approach is highly effective and is changing attitudes, and it's got him worried. We just might win this thing after all, despite the GOP's best efforts to extend it indefinitely.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | June 5, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

As an oration this is superb. I think Obama delivers his speech with his core believe. Whenever he speaks at that very time he believes that he can implement what he says. But reality is different. His enthusiastic pursue, argument and expectation somehow praiseworthy but his aspiration and argument can not be implemented in American democracy.

Posted by: bakkardeshojo | June 5, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I haven't been a fan of Mr. Obama in the past and may never be, however, that having been said, I must applaud him for his speech in Cairo and I believe he has laid the groundwork for some real progress there, IF his staff (Hilary) and Congress (Pelosi) don't screw things up. From what I have seen so far this is not likely. He has spoken of "transparency" in government and "speaking from the heart" and no secrecy behind closed doors. Here at home it is, proceed as usual. Billions have been put into the "Stimulus Package" with no accountability, as to who is getting how much, how it is spent, etc. NOTHING. No "earmarks/pork barrel" projects though there are hundreds of them. What's good enough for international diplomacy ought to be good enough for us here at home.

Posted by: Searcher | June 5, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

LucyLou, at 12:50 pm, has the best comment so far. It is impossible to imagine AIPAC and the military-industrial complex meekly accepting this apparent reversal of policy. When Netanyahu takes a stand on expansion of the West Bank settlements, approximately 530 legislators will be under pressure to force the president to back down.

And what role will the MSM play?

Posted by: johnalene | June 5, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

President Obama's speech was excellent and overdue... it vindicates my vote for him, especially if it is followed up by concrete, even-handed efforts to pursue justice and peace in the Middle East.

Posted by: Observer44 | June 5, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Let's be clear, Obama's speech and most of his policies are clearly superior to the Middle Ages mentality of Bush, Cheney and neo-cons. However, Obama was not even-handed in his speech, as some have imagined, he tilted toward Israel in his speech, as he undoubtedly will in his policies. He did not explain why, if invading and occupying Iraq was a "choice," his administration may only slowly withdraw our troops from an unnecessary war. His "logic" in defending military escalation in Afghanistan is flawsd in the sense, if the violent extremists are there and in Pakistan, the United States should invade and occupy border areas in Pakistan.

Obama is right to declare taking an innocent life is wrong, but he failed to apply this important moral value to Israel or the United States, whose actions have led to the deaths of thousands of innocent people in the Middle East. He failed to criticize excesses in Israel's invasion of the Gaza, which left dozens or hundreds of innocent civilians dead.

Obama needs to follow through and actively pursue a comprehensive, fair, lasting peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians. Whether he will do so remains to be seen. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton conscientiously tried in this endeavor, with Carter enjoying limited success, Clinton's efforts being thwarted primarily by the refusal of Arafat to agree to probably the best terms Israel will ever offer the Palestinians.

So a fairly good speech, President Obama, but most of the world is waiting to see how your administration will follow through.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | June 5, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

The primary engine of terror in the middle east is the settlements and the occupation that protect them and held them grow. While resistance and terror are sporadic, the settlements and the occupation continue to expand every day and have for more than 40 years, reaping only needless misery, terror, and death for millions of Israelis, Palestinians, Americans, Europeans, and certainly other Arab nations in the region. The settlers are violent, racist, extremists who could care less how many millions suffer, or who many thousands die needlessly as the result of their actions.

I look forward to the day that Avigdor Lieberman's house (he is a settler and settler leader) is razed to the ground along with the houses of 500,000 of his racist, violent, extremist cohorts.

That will be the beginning of the end of the "War on terror" and the first day of real peace in the region.

God bless Obama, and may he have the strength and determination to stand up to the settlers, and the to our own congress and senate, whose cowardice will cause them to back the settlers in much the same way they did the Apartheid Afrikaners right up until it became more politically expedient for them to no longer look the other way when facing brutal apartheid and ethnic cleansing.

Posted by: not1234 | June 5, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

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