al Obamaiya: The President’s Cairo Speech
Full text of his speech here (h/t Andrew Sullivan, who if you check his site has a number of links/roundups of various bloggers).
It’s a very well written speech, expertly delivered as we know President Obama can do.
Still I can’t help but be amazed at how how very basic/non-crazy most of this stuff is and it speaks to how low a level we hold our politicians to that this is made to be this earth-shattering event.
(Slightly) Shorter President Obama:
–Not all Muslims are bloodthirsty insane warmongers. In fact the majority aren’t so.
–If you believe that 9/11 was a US gov’t conspiracy or the Holocaust didn’t happen you are an insane SOB
–Muslims translated Greek texts in the Medieval Era.
–Palestinians shouldn’t live in a hellhole and you can’t have actual sovereignty if another army controls your territory,
–Hence we are getting out of Iraq
–Women ought to go to school (Newsflash: They have brains in addition to their other body parts).
–Education=Good. Mutual Respect/Intelligence=Good. Being All Around Generally Nice=Good. Torturing People=Bad
–People ought to be able to worship however, wherever, and whenever they desire. Religions don’t necessarily have to be killing each other all the time.
–The US has Muslims living in the country who aren’t constantly blowing stuff up (see point #1). They have jobs, families, and go about life in a regular fashion and yet are distinctly Muslim.
–You can’t (crazily) go in and force a government on people, nor more stupidly think that by having elections alone (ZOMG!) you have democracy. That said, it’s (surprise!!) better to live in a liberal democratic country than a dictatorship. Also it would be better if you did have elections and a group wins that they not then install a dictatorship (see previous sentence).
–The world is heavily interconnected and therefore we have common dangers and hence common opportunities to work together amidst disagreements.
Short short Obama: Come and join modernity, we’d love to have ya.
President Obama also defended his Af-Pak strategy under the (limited as compared to Bush) War on Terror framework. And his mention of Iran of course still holds to this idea that they can’t get a nuclear weapon. Iran already has a quasi-deterrent capability and I don’t see that anything but growing.
Perhaps the most powerful line was invoking the Civil Rights movement in the US as proof of the non-violent civil resistance as the way for Palestinians to go. While at first some may scoff at that, Obama is in fact correct. The countries in which non-violent resistance has worked on a large scale (almost) always come from the Anglo common law tradition: The US, India, and South Africa.** A non-violent civil disobedience campaign by the Palestinians would get them a state very quickly as whatever moral standing Israel has left would quickly evaporated and they would be shamed into doing it. Their occupation would be exposed as contrary to their own (legitimately) higher legal tradition.
Though I appreciate Obama’s candor, he still is referring to The Muslim World. It’s a better framing of TMW then previous ones, but still is too monolithic for my tastes. But at least it’s a start. The real question of course will be one of followup and implementation. But at least we’ve finally (only after about a decade) actually entered the 21st century. At least rhetorically.
**Exceptions would include Philippines and Indonesia.