Obama, the time to deliver is now

5 Jun, '09

I keep asking myself why did Obama choose the most repressive regimes in the Middle East to honour not only with his presence, but also to use as a launchpad for his Utopian vision of a peaceful and democratic Middle East? A vision that will continue to remain as illusive as a desert mirage for us Middle Eastners.

Then I try to select an alternate of the 22 Arab countries where he could have used instead, but I fail to find a single one which could be worthy of such an occasion.

obamasaudikingRegardless, he touched the perennial issues; Palestine through to women’s rights, freedom of expression to democratic governments and of course the rejection of terrorism and freedom of belief. Points which generally have been raised by every single American president – and world leader for that matter – albeit without such eloquence and empathy – but so far without any concrete steps to see through their resolutions. Somehow a “shared interest” creeps in and all those promises get shelved or forgotten to be revived upon a new ascension to a throne.

What is needed now that he has outlined his vision, is to put in programs to enact sustainable solutions.

I’m not very sure that I would hold my breath to see them though, the main problem we have in this part of the world is the complete absence of democracy, a subject he just skimmed over in this speech.

Would he have changed the thrust of his speech had he delivered it from his White House? I don’t know. What I wish for now is for some pressure, real pressure to be exerted on these regimes to finally allow real popular participation in the affairs of state.

I also know that the tasks he set are onerous and cannot be achieved nor imposed by him or his administration. They must emanate from our own societies who look forward to receive his full support – something that has been severely lacking through much of the reign of his predecessor.

I’m not talking bloody revolution here, just a push to representational democracy.

Will he be man enough to deliver?

All indication so far suggests that he is.

I hope that I will be proven right.

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Comments (15)

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  1. Mike says:

    He did very briefly skim through the issue of democracy in the Middle East. It was clear at that point he was addressing Arab leaders. Here are a few of his lines:

    – “I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose”

    – “Governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away.”

    – “There are some who advocate for democracy only when they’re out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others”

    – “You must maintain your power through consent, not coercion. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy”

  2. Mike says:

    He does give a good speech, but that’s about all.

  3. Steve the American says:

    Obama is full of bs. He’s been feeding us BS sandwiches for months since he’s been elected and now he’s feeding you BS shawarmas. How do you like ’em? My recommendation is to wash it down with strong drink to avoid the aftertaste.

    Obama is big on rhetoric and ambiguous promises, short on plans and results. That’s because his success has been built on charming audiences with pleasant-sounding nonsense, not getting things done. He doesn’t know how to do anything. He’s never done anything except get elected.

    Obama simply pandered to his Arab audience and pressed on, just like he pandered to his liberal audience and his union audience and his black audience, etc. His speech is most notable for all the things he left out and got wrong.

    Obama is not going to do jack for you. However, the good news for us American conservatives is that he can not do anything to fix the Middle East anyway and he shouldn’t try unless it’s unavoidable or has a reasonable chance of success. America is not going to fix your mess. You have to do it yourselves. Despite Obama’s blathering, America is not to blame for the Middle East mess. The Middle Easterners are.

    The formula for success is all laid out for you. You know what to do to form a liberal, capitalist democracy with individual liberty and property rights. Do it. Don’t expect Obama or America to do it for you, to hand it to you on a silver platter. That’s not going to happen. Ever. Unless your goal in life is to fail and bitch endlessly about it, using whatever scapegoat you can find to shift away the blame for your failures, get up off your butts and start improving yourselves.

    That means you have to reform your governments, reform your culture, and reform your Islam. All of them suck. You should follow the model of the Japanese who, when introduced to modernity, grabbed it by the horns and incorporated it into their culture. They didn’t sit around hankering to return to medieval glory.

    The happy news for you is that Obama can not take the wrecking ball to your countries as he about to do to America for the next four years. He can’t raise your taxes to the moon nor hijack your doctors into some damned silly gubblemint health plan nor blow your tax dollars down some Government Motors rat hole nor bungle a recession into a depression. That’s what’s in store for us.

    The only good thing about Obama is that he will demonstrate with painful clarity the failure of liberal programs. Maybe we needed Obama to debunk liberalism just like Communism needed the Soviet Union to show it for a failure. After Obama, we conservatives will take back America.

    • mahmood says:

      Your characterisation of your president is far too harsh.

      He is inspirational, and that is the most important quality of a leader

      He also seems sincere and that’s what the world needs to see to repair the immense damage that Bush has wreaked on the State’s image and circumstance throughout the world.

      I hope that he (or rather, his administration) will follow up on his speech and exert the pressure to demonstrate that the States will give preference to democratic and progressive regimes in this area – which is not currently present, but hopefully with the carrots he dangled, change will happen.

      I fully agree with you that change will not happen in this area unless we – the people of this area – actually want change, demand and work toward it. That’s happening now and will continue to progress until democracy is achieved.

  4. Anonny says:

    He says “on the other hand” too many times. When you cross out the contradictions, what you have is a couple of broken promises. Pre-election, we got closing down of Gitmo and cessation of ‘torture’. Now we still have Gitmo (not that this is so crucial an issue, but still) and we still have waterboarding, etc. OK, these don’t affect the many, but they show how little his words mean. More importantly, the unnamed detention centres and the extraordinary rendition protocols continue to exist.

    He also promised to get out of Iraq. 80000 troops are still there plus a private army of ‘contractors’. The building of the bases has not stopped. He’s also going into Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    Regarding the bailouts, well, this is funny. The govt was going in as a buyer of ‘preferred stock’, then there was the change to ‘common’ stock. This gives the govt. voting rights along with the shares. This is practically nationalisation of an industry. OK this one’s a bit dogmatic but it’s not an actual economic outrage like the Wall Street bailout which should not have happened. It’s my belief that Obama doesn’t know enough about economics to be at all effective here.

    What the US people want from their medical system is the single-payer dream, which Obama promised before the election, but has now taken off the table.

    I’m struggling to think of a promise that he has kept. If anybody can think of anything, please write in – my cyncism is not good for me, I’m sure.

    He’s just a good talker. He’s just a rapper. His lyrics are not even his own. Let’s all ask Bryzinsky and Soros what he’s going to say next.

    As for this speech … yeah whatever. Arabs make up about 10% of the world’s muslims. There are more muslims in Sub-Saharan Africa than there are Arabs of any religion worldwide. What’s a speech in the capital of a propped-up (to the tune of $1 billion annually) Arab dictatorship going to really mean to the global Islamic community?

  5. Anonny says:

    Steve,

    Obama is not giving you liberalism, he’s giving you national socialism. You’ve got years of govt. jobs, increased personal surveillance, military-flavoured “community service” initiatives and fear of the other to look forward to in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Good luck.

  6. Mike P says:

    There’s two Mikes on here – anyways I posted the first response so I’ll call myself Mike P to distinguish myself.

    Anyways..

    Democratic principles = American principles

    This has been very problematic for the Arab world and Obama needs to do more to remove that affiliation when promoting democracy in the Arab world.

    Democratic principles were founded in ancient Greece some 2,500 years ago, not America!

    Democracy can work everywhere and knows no boundaries, races, religions, or cultures.

    There are countries right round the world that are testament to this – Uruguay, South Africa, Czech republic, Japan, South Korea to name a few

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