One year ago today, President Obama gave a landmark
speech in Cairo
, in which he spoke on behalf of the U.S. to the
world's Muslims. It was heralded as an historic moment of outreach and
the beginning of what many hoped would be a new day in closer and
friendlier ties between the U.S. and world's Islamic nations and
peoples. One year later, how is Obama doing in this mission? Here are
- Successes Overshadowed by Flotilla Crisis
Foreign Policy's Marc Lynch and Kristin Lord write, "It is no accident
that the anniversary of Obama's speech has gone
virtually unremarked in the Arab media this week, except for a few
comments about unmet promises and some juxtaposition of that glorious
moment with America's anemic response to Gaza. If the Obama
administration does not change its cautious approach
quickly and forcefully address the blockade of Gaza which is the real
heart of this week's scandal, it will confirm the crystallizing
narrative of a President which either can not deliver on its promises or
did not mean what he said. This would be a sad epitaph for the
President's carefully nurtured outreach to the Muslim world."
Progress and Key Failures Time's Michael Crowley writes,
"Obama has made precious little progress toward his goal of improving
America's standing in the Muslim world. A new Gallup survey of several
Muslim-majority nations finds that in Lebanon, Iraq, Algeria, Egypt and
the Palestinian territories, America still has a dismally low standing."
Why? "Obama has failed to deliver on some key promises he made in
Cairo. Obama repeated his previously stated vow to close Guantanamo by
the end of 2009. But that pledge is now five months overdue and
counting, with little prospect of a solution in sight. The same goes for
his ambitious talk of Middle East peace."
- He Set Expectations
Too High Foreign Policy's Peter Mandaville warns,
"there is the danger that a failure to produce tangible results on core
political issues, such as peace between Israelis and Palestinians, will
impede--and perhaps eventually overwhelm--progress on building broader
partnerships. For many Muslims, talk of science envoys and youth
engagement, while promising, is of a fundamentally different order of
priority. This audience is looking for the 'new beginning' Obama
announced in Cairo to reflect concrete changes in U.S. foreign policy."
Forward Movement on Israel-Palestine The United Arab Emirate
National's Alan Philips writes, "In his
speech in Cairo the US president Barack Obama spoke of “Palestine” as if
it was about to be a country with a secure place on the map. He urged
the Palestinians to achieve their goal of dignity and statehood through
non-violent means. Most crucially, he declared that Israeli settlements
on occupied land must stop. Looking back on that speech after the events
of the past week underlines the gap between word and deed. For all his
promises to rein in Israel and devote himself to achieving Palestinian
statehood, the US has been almost the only country not to condemn the
Israeli commando raid on the Free Gaza Movement flotilla."
Soft on Harsh Islamic Regimes National Review's Michael Rubin writes, "On
this, the one-year anniversary of Obama’s Cairo speech, the silence of
the Obama administration in the face of backsliding on rights, freedom,
and liberty in Kurdistan, Turkey, and Arab states such as Egypt and
Yemen, is deafening. ... Obama’s inaction is dangerous because, when
administration officials like assistant secretary of state Jeffrey Feltman or U.S. congressmen on a
junket take their photos with Barzani, cynicism grows about perceived
U.S. endorsement dictators; this in turn encourages anti-Americanism."
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