US President Obama gave a speech in Egypt which is apparently part and parcel of his ‘outreach’ to the Muslim world. ‘A new beginning between Muslims and the United States’ or some such thing – too bad he doesn’t feel the need to make give a few more speeches to his own countrymen – half of who strike me as feeling more than a mite disenfranchised at the moment.
Be that as it may, it’s hard for me to look at this speech as ‘a new beginning’ and for outreach efforts it gets a failing grade. Look, if Obama was interested in true outreach to the Muslim world his speech wouldn’t be given from Egypt, or in Saudi Arabia, UAE or any other gulf state, but in Pakistan, Afghanistan or even in a Muslim area of India. There, his speech would have true meaning rather just show of much touchy-feelie hot air. He has said very little different that George W. Bush hasn’t said a hundred times already from more or less than same safe spots. Furthermore, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states already enjoy relatively decent relations with the United States.
So if Muslims in places like Pakistan, Afghanistan or Iran heard this same speech given from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran and saw an American President who felt deeply enough to come to where the American-Muslims relations are at their most contentious and offer a hand in friendship – this would have been a true outreach which would have had the potential to reap unlimited good-will. Instead, watch the Obama Administration garner very few brownie points in the places which Americans need goodwill the most.