Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Obama on Iran

I just heard the following quotation from Obama's speech in Cairo.

He prefaced this passage by being open about US participation in the overthrow of a democratic regime to put the Shah in power in Iran. Then he said plainly that Iran was sponsoring terrorism and violence. Then he said, "The United States is willing to move forward. The question is no longer what Iran is against. It was what kind of world they are going to help build."

We've blogged about this before. Obama seems to be giving in to countries like Iran but he's really backing them into a corner. It's easy to be anti-American if no one ever asks you what your alternative is. But now Iran has to say what they want. This changes the choice before the Middle East. Instead of choosing to be anti-American or not, they now must choose between two distinct world views and futures. When it becomes a choice between futures, we win.


USWest said...

It is really worth listening to this speech in its entirety.

I thought it was an excellent speech. He is the first president to actually refer to the Koran and the to compliment the verses from the Koran with those that are similar from the Bible.

He has hit is rock solid when he tells the Arab world that they need to start focusing on the future rather than the past. This strikes a special cord with me because I work with Arabs. And more often than not, rather than focusing on creation, they focus on tearing down and on internal conflicts. I am often tempted to ask, "Well, what have you created recently? It is so easy to criticize. But I see you create nothing!"

Obama challenged the Arab world to look beyond itself to create a better world. He told these people something that they are not often told, that they have the power to shape their future. But they do. And he has invited them to partner with other nations to do just that.

It was a forward working speech.

Pombat said...

I am, again, so glad that he was elected (especially given the final choice was him vs McCain & Palin). It's this kind of dialogue, and the acknowledgement and understanding of Islam, the Koran, and the Muslim world that I hoped he'd bring to the job.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Arab culture values language, speech, and rhetoric very highly. Americans often say "actions matter, not words," but Arabs are more inclined to think words matter too. One of the stories of writing the Koran is that Muhammad saw the Archangel Gabriel writing the Arabic letters in flame in the sky, and he copied them down.

So it was very culturally important for Barack Obama to come and speak. Even though words alone are not enough, it would be a mistake to imagine that the words are not important.

Pombat said...

BBC news has a link here for anyone who'd like to read rather than listen to the speech. It's annotated by BBC world affairs correspondent Paul Reynolds, but the annotations have been put in as separate links, so they don't interrupt the overall speech. I'm just about to read it now.

And I totally agree with LTG - words are hugely important (and I say this having grown up in the UK, where we can insult someone massively whilst seemingly paying a compliment ;-p).

ps can anyone imagine Dubya saying "assalaamu alaykum"...?
(the idea amuses me)

The Law Talking Guy said...

I am so pleased about a US President finally taking a hard line on settlements. Israeli settlements are an attempt to change facts on the ground, to create faits accomplis. As such, they are in violation of the spirit of UN Resolution 242 that envisions exchanges of land for peace along more or less the 1967 borders.

I can't help but think that peace might have been achieved right after Oslo if the Israelis had not planted 100,000 of their citizens over the line by 1994, and doubled that number since then (now over 200,000 "settlers") all while maintaining the charade of continued peace negotiations.

Worse, this deliberate policy of undermining the UN resolution has worked. Uprooting a quarter million Jews is a non-starter. Some will have to leave for peace, but most will get to stay in the land they have squatted on. And let's not forget that it is always the best land is taken for Jewish settlements.

I have enormous sympathy for the Palestinians, even though they bear considerable blame in continually missing opportunities and permitting terrorists to act in their name. No matter how bad the terrorism gets, nothing justifies the slow but deliberate dispossession of an entire people.

Raised By Republicans said...

Talking about a "people" called the Palestinians is interesting. Before the emergence of the PLO/nationalist movement in the 1960s, there were only Arabs who happened to live on this or that side of lines drawn by the British and UN. What's more people in that place and time were almost certainly more concerned about family identity than ethnic identity.

It's really interesting in a way that the formation of Israel created the Palestinian people in a real sense. The entire identity of the Palestinians is founded on opposition to Israel. Of course it is possible for this socio-political construct to evolve in response to events. And certainly the settlements policy doesn't help that.

I agree with LTG both the settlement policy and terrorism are problems. However, I would not say that Palestinians "permit" terrorism. That choice of words implies a passivity that I don't think accurately describes the situation. Palestinian leaders with mass support among their people have consistently chosen violence over all other forms of political expression from the very beginning of their movement.

I would also contest LTG's implication that Oslo collapsed solely because of Israeli actions. As I recall, there were instances where the PLO clearly were not following throw on their commitments either.

Finally, LTG says that terrorism cannot be a justification for the settlement policy. I doubt he intends to say this but it comes close to saying that terrorism IS a legitimate strategy. I would be more comfortable if he had said that the use of violence against innocent people was not a legitimate political tool regardless of who wields it.

Dr. Strangelove said...

In his speech, Obama said that just as Palestinians must recognize that Israel has a right to exist, Israelis must recognize that "Palestine" has a "right to exist." I am fairly certain this is the first time a U.S. President has frame such a clear parallel. (And invoked the word "Palestine.")

While LTG may be correct that the Israeli settlements have been the biggest political obstacle to the creation of a Palestinian state, I believe that terrorism has been the biggest practical obstacle to peace. Settlements are inconvenient; terrorism is unforgivable. Note that the Oslo accords did not stipulate a ban on Israeli settlements, nor did it call for the creation of an independent Palestinian state.