Obama's Cairo Address: Did It Live Up To the Hype?
President Obama journeyed to Cairo on Thursday to change the world -- or at least get the process of changing the world started. Such ambition in presidents is nothing new. We tend to imbue our chief executives with a combination of omnipotence and civic sainthood, seeing in them the living embodiment of our values and the standard bearer of our history and heritage.
Such a burden is carried differently by each man who has held the office, making their way through time with only their ambition and a supreme belief in their own abilities to accompany them. All have tried to make their mark on history, even as they ride history's whirlwind, being tossed mercilessly about as if on a bucking bronco until their time is up and they can slide off, or are thrown unceremoniously into the dirt.
President Obama decided to tempt the fates, grab history by the tail, and take on a task from which Hercules himself would have shied away: changing the perception of how the United States is viewed in the Muslim world.
The fact that this perception has been fed by the controlled press of the holy terrors who rule much of the Islamic world, as well as the holy men who seek to control their flocks through fear of the "crusader" and hate for the infidel, only made Obama's job of breaking through the ignorance and isolation that is the sad lot of most of the world's Muslims that much harder.
Even if you have a very low opinion of President Obama, I don't see how you can honestly criticize him for trying to alter the dynamic that currently exists between Islam and the West. And keeping in mind that we are at war with a large segment of Islam (much larger than the president would have ever dared say in public), the rhetorical tightrope that Obama was forced to walk between unequivocally condemning the extremists while attempting to placate the sensibilities and feelings of hypersensitive Muslims who believe they have been stereotyped as mad bombers was worthy of anything Barnum and Bailey could have produced.
There are many on both the left and right who are criticizing the president for making a speech that didn't accomplish anything or actually played into the hands of our enemies. While I found plenty that was objectionable in the speech, I think that kind of criticism misses the point.
As the president said, no one speech was going to change things. Rather, it was the fact that speech was made in the first place -- and where it was given -- that impacted the consciousness of the Muslim world. Right now, they're not listening to us -- even with our Lightworker president in office. Announcing to the world that the president of the United States was going to address the Muslim world and do it in a Muslim country at least got the planet's attention.
Every journey begins with a first step. And if the minimum President Obama could accomplish was to get the Muslim world to pause in their headlong dash toward history's gasoline dump with a stick of dynamite in their mouth and a fistful of lit matches while forcing them to listen to a few (too few, as it turned out) truths about Islam and the threat of extremists, then the president accomplished as much as could be expected.
Did the substance of the speech matter? As a gauge to our president's thinking -- how he sees the world and America's place in it -- it most certainly did. The address gave us a glimpse of the president's strategic sense. In places, it struck me as naive, such as his belief that the Palestinians can be convinced that "violence is a dead end" and that by following the path of the American civil rights movement they can see their aspirations fulfilled.
The fact that Palestinians have as much to fear from each other as they do the Israelis was left unsaid and only the barest mention was made that Hamas does not even recognize Israel's right to exist. On such specifics people live or die, and if our president believes that the Palestinians only need a Martin Luther King figure to lead them nonviolently to peace and happiness, he will be terribly disappointed.
The president demonstrated a similar naivete about Iran and his belief that any country -- including Iran -- "should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty." History has shown that once the nuclear enrichment genie is out of the bottle, it is impossible to prevent a country from building a bomb if they so desire.