On Thursday morning, President Obama spoke to a group gathered at the State Department to address the growing number of “crises” in the Middle East. He spoke of the right to self-determination, and of the need to end the violence. He also stated that it will be the position of the United States to promote freedom throughout the region – a position that made one wonder if they were listening to George Bush.
He focused on Syria, and condemned their actions – actions which have had the government (as it is) of Syria killing their own citizens. Obama called for the release of political prisoners, and stated that President Assad must allow peaceful protests. Amazingly, Obama referenced that the origination of the Middle-East protests were in Tehran, Iran. Protests (called the Green Revolution) in which he was eerily silent. His words on the subject were too few, and moved no one. Yet, to his credit, the President spoke of Iran not in glowing words, and placed them as the genesis of much of the funding of those who assault their citizens.
The President made numerous overtures to make good on the promises that he made in his speech in Cairo in 2009 – known by many as the Great Apology speech. In a stroke of irony, he made the pledge to help bring about free speech – from the largest news organization to the lone blogger. (I wonder what the Boston Herald thinks about this?) The President continued to focus on freedom of religion – mentioning Coptic Christians, who have been massacred in Egypt – and the rights of women. Both of these things run in direct opposition to Sharia Law, so one must assume that they will not be taken to heart.
Again, the President spoke about entrepreneurship, as he did in his State of the Union address. Yet, in the SOTU, he made sure to couch that entrepreneurship with the fallacy that entrepreneurship begins with, and from, government. He then said he will ask the World Bank and IMF to start with Egypt and Tunisia, and provide financial assistance to help them get through their “democratic upheaval.” Again, one wonders, especially in Egypt and the potential rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, how the spending of money in the region will lead to entrepreneurship. It takes more than money – it takes a justice system, property rights and a belief in people, not governments.
He ended his speech with Israel, and while talking about the stability of Israelis he pushed the term “occupation” as a way of defining how the Palestinians are being denied their rights. Obama moved to play both sides of the aisle. He stated that moves by Palestinians to deny the right of Israel’s existence will never succeed. Obama clearly declared that US support of Israel is unwavering, but that friends speak honestly with each other, and that Israel needs to make changes, and that a Jewish State can not truly exist while they engage in “occupation.” Obama then made the case for the Two-State solution – “…a viable Palestine, a secure Israel.”
And then, he dropped it in – that there should be real borders for both nations, based on pre-1967 borders. Many wondered whether or not Obama would make this declaration, and now we know that he is basing his entire Middle-East Policy on this. Obama continues to state that by doing so, Israel’s basic security will be met. When that statement is juxtaposed to the historical timeline of attacks on Israel, and the most recent Nakba Day attacks, one would have a hard time believing that Israel can be secure with a Palestinian neighbor, or any of their existing neighbors. (Obama did say that with the Palestinians signing a pact with HAMAS, that the peace will not be easy. One could argue that it will be impossible.)
More analysis on the speech will be available at PajamasMedia.com, and on PJTV.com.