Obama in Cairo (therapy for liberals)

it's all about our new beginning...

In this time of great decision, I have come to Cairo not to talk about the past, but to look to the future — to a future that Egyptians can lead and can define.

Ladies and Gentlemen: In our world today, a growing number of men and women are securing their liberty. And as these people gain the power to choose, they are creating democratic governments in order to protect their natural rights. We should all look to a future when every government respects the will of its citizens — because the ideal of democracy is universal.

For 60 years, my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region here in the Middle East — and we achieved neither.  Now, we are taking a different course. We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all people.

….. We know these advances will not come easily, or all at once. We know that different societies will find forms of democracy that work for them. When we talk about democracy, though, we are referring to governments that protect
certain basic rights for all their citizens — among these, the right to speak freely. The right to associate.
The right to worship as you wish. The freedom to educate your children — boys and girls. And freedom from the midnight knock of the secret police.

Securing these rights is the hope of every citizen, and the duty of every government. In my own country, the progress of democracy has been long and difficult. And given our history, the United States has no cause for false pride and we have every reason for humility.

After all, America was founded by individuals who knew that all human beings — and the governments they create — are inherently imperfect. And the United States was  born half free and half slave. And it was only in my lifetime that my government guaranteed the right to vote for all of its people.

Whoops, wrong speech!!  That was Condi Rice speaking in Cairo,  back in 2005.   condi2

Obama’s speech was so much more..well,  nuanced.  Whereas Condi chose to focus on the struggle for democracy in the Middle East, Obama preferred to talk about “relationships”and  in particular what he called “the tension between the USA and Muslims around the world”. What is central, according to Obama, is to understand difference, find what we share, discover our common humanity (etc etc..).

As I said in a previous post,  I think that Obama will have to continue what the Bush regime started, no other policy would make any sense..The biggest sign of this was that he spoke quite firmly about the need for a Palestinian State, and was prepared to arouse the wrath of the most militant Zionists.

However there was so much utter pap in most of the speech, so much pandering to liberal delusions about how the world works, such shallow  opportunism in his remarks about   Iraq,  that I didn’t want to let it go without further comment.

Although some of his “let’s all love each other” talk  was directed at sectarian divisions among  the peoples of the Middle East, a huge amount of it was aimed at placating American  liberals  who feel they were well.. sort of tarnished and embarrassed, by US policy under GWB.  They’d righteously opposed the war in Iraq, after all, vociferously shouting “not in my name”, “it’s all about oil”, “war is Evil”, “Bush Sucks”  and all that.  But somehow they hadn’t been able to stop it … instead they were forced to endure 8 years of darkness under a dumb, evil and/or insane, president.

This sort of stuff was therapy for them:

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. 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.

I do so recognizing that change cannot happen overnight. No single speech can eradicate years of mistrust, nor can I answer in the time that I have 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. As the Holy Koran tells us, “Be conscious of God and speak always the truth.” That is what I will try to do – to speak the truth as best I can, humbled by the task before us, and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart.

It’s all so appealing  to the narcisstic side of the American liberal intelligentsia. bleeding-heart-liberal-mug_c82f37d7 The New York Times waxed lyrical:

“When President Bush spoke in the months and years after Sept. 11, 2001, we often — chillingly — felt as if we didn’t recognize the United States. His vision was of a country racked with fear and bent on vengeance, one that imposed invidious choices on the world and on itself. When we listened to President Obama speak in Cairo on Thursday, we recognized the United States.”

As did the LA Times:

“Rhetorically, at least, President Obama moved mountains in the land of Muhammad. Speaking from Cairo University to the world’s estimated 1.5 billion Muslims, the American president made a frank appeal for a new relationship based on mutual respect. Language matters, and this was an eloquent address of historic and moral importance meant to turn the page on strong-arm politics and ultimatums. …. As Obama noted, “recognizing our common humanity is only the beginning of our task.” Still, this was a new beginning….”

This idea that Obama has heroically taken on the world historic task of “seeking a new beginning” , that he’s courageously rebuilding America’s relationship with the world, is quite extraordinary really.  Tied in with all the  stuff about “listening”, “understanding”, “speaking what’s in our hearts” facing tensions squarely”, it sounds like an excerpt from a pop psychology self-help manual.  But that is what liberals like to hear.   harmony3

Obama must know however, that his task is not really all about  repairing  the supposed damage caused by the  Bush administration  to America’s “relationship” with ‘the Islamic world’. It’s about undoing  60  years of damage to the people of  the Middle East, by the policies of GWBs predecessors.

At two points in his speech, he did mention the US role in having held back democracy in the Middle East:

‘..the people of Muslim majority countries too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations.’

‘In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically-elected Iranian government.’

However his remarks about Iraq having been a “war of choice”  carefully avoided lending any support to US policy under Bush, despite the fact that in this case, the  opposite policy had been followed – the  United States  overthrew a  fascist regime and backed democratic revolution.    Of course,  having called the war in Iraq a ‘dumb war’ ,  voted against the surge and taken the side of those who wanted to abandon Iraq to the sectarian violence engendered by opponents of democracy, he was  (and still is) in a sticky spot.   Once you’re in power, there is reality to think about.

When Condi spoke in Cairo, she chose to focus on the major contradiction in the Middle East – the contradiction between democracy and tyranny. She too pointed out the harm done by previous US policy:

“For 60 years, my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region here in the Middle East — and we achieved neither.”

She followed this up by adding:

“Now, we are taking a different course. We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all people” (italics added).

Obama skidded around this issue:

“I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other”

However Condi hit the nail on the head with her words:

“There are those who say that democracy is being imposed. In fact, the opposite is true: Democracy is never imposed. It is tyranny that must be imposed.”

She’s quite right of course.  Obama fudged it for  his muddle-headed liberal supporters.

Her words about the US having previously pursued stability at the expense of democracy were also key ones. The Bush administration knew that the long delayed democratic revolution in the Middle East required destabilising the old order ithere. And they were prepared to do this, rather than talk about   peace, harmony and understanding.  It was this de-stabilising process which united the right-“left” opposition to the toppling of Saddam Hussein and the dismantling of the Baathist ruling class in Iraq. Conservatives abhor instability, they’d have preferred Saddam to have been replaced by a friendlier dictator.  The desire for harmony on the part of the liberal-“left”, led them too, to prefer the peace of fascism.

Nowadays, all of these people, including Obama, say  “of course it’s good that Saddam Hussein no longer rules Iraq” while at the same time decrying the war that was required.  Obama can get away with waving  his hand and mouthing words about “events in Iraq hav(ing) reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible”.    People who see themselves as having “solid left credentials”, continue to rabbit on about “self-determination” and argue that the correct thing would have been to leave the Iraqis to deal with Saddam by themselves.  Both of these positions reveal a complete disconnect with the reality faced by the Iraqi people, and the history which had created it.

We Strange Times people are notorious for having maintained since the beginning of the Iraq war,  that the Left should support it. We’ve outraged many people by maintaining that those who claimed to be against the war “from the left” were in fact embracing a reactionary pseudo-left position which objectively put them on the wrong side .

In a nutshell, our position is that right from the start, the US aim in Iraq really was to facilitate the democratic revolution there  and that this would turn out to be a catalyst for democratic change throughout the region.  To those who could only shout “Empire”, “Oil”, “US Imperialism” we tried to point out that in the current era, it would make no sense for the US to be continuing to follow its old policy of propping up dictatorships in order to maintain stability in the Middle East – that for the  last superpower to actually invade an occupy an Arab country in order to “steal the oil” and “expand the Empire” would be sheer lunacy.

In the 21st century the US is no longer in a position to do such things. Since losing in Vietnam, it has become progressively weaker, not stronger. We’ve never argued that the US has now “become nice” and adopted some sort of “altruistic” foreign policy. The reality is that it’s been clear for quite some time, that  the US could not continue in the same old way. In the current era it’s obvious that a modern and democratic Middle East is now very much in US interests. It can no longer afford the consequences of leaving that region as a stagnating, terrorist breeding, swamp.

Unlike Obama,  Bush never bothered to engage in liberal-soothing. In fact, because he was attempting to make such a dramatic change in US policy, his  real challenge was to  get the conservative, isolationist Right on side.  It therefore suited him to create as much liberal-frothing outrage as possible.  That  worked – at least long enough to get the ball rolling in Iraq.  But when things became difficult in Iraq, it  wasn’t enough to prevent an effective alliance between anti-war liberals and an increasing swathe of the conservative Right.

right-'left' unity

right-'left' unity

Obama was able to hitch a ride on all that- as  I said last year, he’s been a lucky boy. Well, so far.

The Obama administration will not be as bold as the Bush administration in its attempts to undo the impact of past US policy. But as democracy continues to grow  and develop in Iraq  that will have a huge impact on the entire region. (We can already see this in Iran).

The coming into existence of a  Palestinian State is the next thing which must happen however. And for all the waffle in Obama’s speech, it seems clear that he does know  this.  Israel has lost the war for “Greater Israel”, that’s been clear for ages. And the US has lost the battle to serve its interests by propping up dictators, propping up Israel, playing off one nasty regime against another and  engaging in all sorts of dirty tricks with no regard for the aspirations of the people of the region.

And that’s such a good thing!

In Condi’s words:

‘What seemed impossible in one decade bec(omes) inevitable in the next.’

Beats this stuff:

We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written.

The Holy Koran tells us, “O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another.”

The Talmud tells us: “The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace.”

blessed are the cheesemakers

blessed are the cheesemakers

The Holy Bible tells us, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God’s vision. Now, that must be our work here on Earth. Thank you. And may God’s peace be upon you.

2 Responses to “Obama in Cairo (therapy for liberals)”

  1. 1 Arthur

    Don’t know where to post it but wanted to pass on this link.


    Looks like something worth exploring to find trends, topics and contacts.

  2. 2 Flu-Bird

    The nobel commity has done great shame to the meaning of the peace prize giving it to BARACK OBAMA they deserve to be sent to the spicemines of kessel

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