Today's Topic



Obama Speaks in Cairo

Natalia J. Garland

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President Obama is not my favorite speaker. I know, I know, many people praise his speeches as eloquent, inspirational, and historic. However, I do not share this popular opinion. I often find his ideas vague and his supporting material inaccurate or misleading (whether this done accidently or intentionally, I do not know). Moreover, I find his manner of delivery overdone in tonal impact, exaggerating simple words and phrases as though they were deeply profound.

Obama recently gave a speech at Cairo University (Egypt) which addressed what has since been dubbed the Muslim World. Thus far into his presidency, it is probably his most important speech because it concerns the future of America: our ability to overcome terrorism and our status among other nations. Therefore, it is essential that Obama's ideas about national security and sovereignty be discussed and understood.

Having said that, let me add that I am not an expert in Middle Eastern history and politics or in Islamic religion and culture. My approach will be to analyze and evaluate Obama's speech for clear thinking, and to uncover his method or style of presentation. I will also attempt to answer three questions. (1) What distinguishes the Obamian presidency with regard to international relationships and the war on terror? (2) What is at the core of the Obamian perspective? (3) Does Obama's personality affect a rational thought process, and is any such influence positive or negative for America?

Below is the full text of Obama's speech. Each paragraph is printed in boldface to show that it is a direct quotation. My commentary is printed in regular type. (To print the speech only, go to Text of President Obama's Speech in Cairo. There are sections of the speech where the audience applauded, and this is indicated by: (APPLAUSE)


Good afternoon. I am honored to be in the timeless city of Cairo and to be hosted by two remarkable institutions. For over a thousand years, al-Azhar has, had stood as a beacon of Islamic learning. And for over a century, Cairo University has been a source of Egypt's advancement. Together, you represent the harmony between tradition and progress.

I'm grateful for your hospitality and the hospitality of the people of Egypt. And I'm also proud to carry with me the good will of the American people and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country: Assalamu Alaikum.


We meet at a time of great tension between the United States and Muslims around the world, tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of coexistence and cooperation but also conflict and religious wars.

More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims and a Cold War in which Muslim majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.

The terms colonialism, modernity, and globaliztion are open to historical verification as well as political interpretation. Let's start with colonialism, a historical reality which is also open to evaluation or interpretation regarding the consequent harm and/or benefits (including a comparative evaluation of the differences between colonial and Islamic control).

Even in the context of an outreach speech to Muslims, reference to colonialism seems apologetic from the start. What about past Muslim conquests? These conquests began in 635 A.D. when Muslims conquered the city of Damascus. Such conquests continued through the Mogul Empire and then the Ottoman Empire. The Moguls conquered most of India and expanded as far as Vienna and Budapest. The Ottoman presence in southeastern Europe did not completely collapse until World World I.

Moreover, Obama gave this speech in Egypt, a land that lost much of its culture and its language to Islam and Arabic. When we think of Egypt, we think of ancient Egypt: the Pyramids and temples, the kings and queens, hieroglyphics and art created on papyrus. How differently might Egypt have developed over the centuries without the Islamic influence? This is not to say that Islam was good or bad for the Egyptians, but only that Islam rather than colonialism seems to have had the major impact on the current Muslim countries. Otherwise, Egypt might have become a Coptic Orthodox country, or have undergone some other cultural transformation from its ancient roots.

Now, what about modernity and globalization? It is the quest for modernity--particularly among the youth whom Obama mentions later in his speech--that has the potential to free certain Muslim enclaves from isolationism and to ensure human rights for all men, women, and children. There is nothing especially spiritual or traditional about remaining stuck in the 13th century. As for globalization, it would seem that the globalization of terrorism is more of a problem than the globalization of business, education, movies, and music. It is globalization, propelled by technology, that has aided terrorist activity.

If Muslims object to the decadent aspects of modernity and globalization, then it is their prerogative and responsibility to reinforce the positive teachings of Islam in their countries and households. There are Christians and Jews who also dislike what some Muslims dislike. It becomes a personal choice to boycott those products, stay away from those places, turn off those television programs, and take away the MP3 players.

Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims. The attacks of September 11, 2001, and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries but also to human rights.

Obama continues to use the term violent extremists throughout his speech. In this one instance (in the above paragraph) he connects violent extremism with Muslims: a small but potent minority of Muslims. These so-called extremists, however, are terrorists. Obama already fulfilled his goal of outreach by acknowledging that the extremists are a minority (i.e., he is not blaming all Muslims or the religion of Islam). There was no need to soften the impact of this statement by refusing to use the word terrorist.

Who or what is a violent extremist? Is it a thug who breaks a woman's arm in an attempt to steal her purse? Is it a gang member who commits a drive-by shooting? Is it a teenager who brutally attacks a homeless man while others watch and video-tape the incident? The fact is that terrorist activity extends beyond criminal behavior. Terrorists want governmental control and religious domination of the world. If we do not distinguish between a criminal and a terrorist, then we deny the reality of terrorist activity as acts of war against entire peoples and with the intention to subjugate and rule over them.

It is also a fact that terrorists are fanatic Muslims, and that many Americans do not have contact with moderate Muslims. After 9/11, in the absence of moderate-Muslim outrage against terrorism, it was difficult for some Americans to separate one from the other. Americans know that Christians, Jews, Buddhists, etc., are not committing acts of terror. It is all originating from the Muslim countries. Even if Muslim fanatics practice a corrupted form of Islam, this tendency has nonetheless sprung from the Middle East. Perhaps, rather than Obama reaching out to Muslims, it would be more appropriate for moderate Muslims to reach out to America and Europe in compassionate friendship.

All this has bred more fear and more mistrust. So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, those who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. And this cycle of suspicion and discord must end.

I've come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap and share common principles, principles of justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.

This sounds a lot like George W. Bush. These thoughts have been expressed before. Will the Muslim World listen when Obama speaks these words? I hope so.

I do so recognizing that change cannot happen overnight. I know there's been a lot of publicity about this speech, but no single speech can eradicate years of mistrust nor can I answer in the time that I have this afternoon all the complex questions that brought us to this point.

But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly to each other the things we hold in our hearts and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other, to learn from each other, to respect one another, and to seek common ground.

Again, this sounds a lot like Bush.

As the holy Quran tells us: "Be conscious of God and speak always the truth."


That is what I will try to do today, to speak the truth as best I can. Humbled by the task before us and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart.

Now, part of this conviction is rooted in my own experience. I'm a Christian. But my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims. As a boy, I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and at the fall of dusk.

While admitting that he is a Christian, Obama talks more about his contact with Muslims. Since he is trying to reach out to Muslims, perhaps this is appropriate. However, I wish Obama would, at some point in his presidency, elaborate on his Christian beliefs. The relationship between Obama and Rev. Wright has never been satisfactorily investigated or explained. When Obama says he is a Christian, we do not know if he means that he believes in Black Liberation Theology, or if he is a Baptist, or exactly how he feels he is putting his Christian beliefs into practice.

Will the Muslim World be able to relate to Obama's self-disclosure? Can his personal experiences of Islam help to create positive political alliances? Again, I hope so.

As a young man, I worked in Chicago communities where many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith. As a student of history, I also know civilization's debt to Islam. It was Islam at places like al-Azhar that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe's Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim communities...


It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra, our magnetic compass and tools of navigation, our mastery of pens and printing, our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires, timeless poetry and cherished music, elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation. And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.


Regarding the soaring spires of Islamic architecture, let us remember the former Byzantine Cathedral of Hagia Sofia, located in today's Turkey. Hagia Sofia was a place of Christian worship until it was overtaken by the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire when the city of Constantinople was caputured in 1453. Muslims then then built the soaring spires on the perimeter of the Cathedral, turning it into a mosque (it is currently a museum). Now, Obama has advocated for Turkey to be admitted to the European Union. Perhaps as a gesture of outreach and reconciliation, the Turks could return Hagia Sofia to the Greek Orthodox and then the Muslim World could pay for its restoration to a functioning church.

In the attempt to create new beginnings and to protect mutual interests, moderate Muslims could demonstrate their sincerity by collectively giving back Hagia Sofia to Christianity. This would be both a real and a symbolic indication of cooperation and peace. If America is going to continue to give military and financial aid to the countries from which terrorists operate, then the Muslim World could demonstrate appreciation and respect toward the Christian World for this protection.

I also know that Islam has always been a part of America's story. The first nation to recognize my country was Morocco. In signing the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796, our second president, John Adams, wrote:

"The United States has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Muslims."

And since our founding, American Muslims have enriched the United States. They have fought in our wars. They have served in our government. They have stood for civil rights. They have started businesses. They have taught at our universities. They've excelled in our sports arenas. They've won Nobel Prizes, built our tallest building and lit the Olympic torch. And when the first Muslim American was recently elected to Congress, he took the oath to defend our Constitution using the same holy Quran that one of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, kept in his personal library.


Obama validates the positive contributions of Muslims, and affirms America's respect for freedom of religion. This sounds a lot like Bush.

Should Obama have mentioned the murder of Pvt. William A. Long? Pvt. Long, aged 23, was killed at a military recruiting station by an American convert to Islam, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, on June 2, 2009. Muhammad also wounded Pvt. Quintan Ezeagwula, aged 18, in the incident. Muhammad stated that he committed these acts because of American military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The murder of Pvt. Long was a terrorist act committed on American soil. Although other countries have experienced this type of terrorist act more frequently and more severely than America, it should be a matter of utmost concern to the whole world if America starts getting attacked from within. America is the greatest stronghold against terrorism. If terrorists can diminish American power and resources, then other countries will find themselves in even greater danger. Americans cannot protect others if we become necessarily preoccupied with our own survival on a day-to-day crisis level.

Obama could have used Pvt. Long's murder as a rallying point for a new beginning between Americans and Muslims. He could have motivated everyone to prevent the senseless loss of innocent lives, in America and in Muslim countries. Remember the 2008 presidential campaigns? Remember Senator Hillary Clinton saying that Obama was not qualified to be Commander in Chief,* not ready to take that 3:00 a.m. phone call? Pvt. Long was Obama's 3:00 a.m. call, and Obama failed to awake from his slumber.

So I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn't. And I consider it part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.


But that same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of America. Just as...


Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire. The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known. We were born out of revolution against an empire.

The crude stereotype of America is largely perpetuated by American hardcore liberals, most of whom voted for Obama.

We were founded upon the ideal that all are created equal. And we have shed blood and struggled for centuries to give meaning to those words, within our borders and around the world.

We are shaped by every culture. Drawn from every end of the Earth, and dedicated to a simple concept, E pluribus unum: Out of many, one.

Even though Obama showed no insight into the anti-Americanism of some of his own followers, his above three paragraphs are among the best in the speech. Obama achieved a certain level of truthfulness and fairness. And, it was good to hear him praise America.

Now much has been made of the fact that an African-American with the name Barack Hussein Obama could be elected president.


Since this remark follows Obama's praise of America, I will assume he referred to his presidency as a positive aspect of American history--as a consequence of the abolition of slavery and the success of the Civil Rights era. However, Obama was not elected as Barack Hussein Obama. The use of his middle name was frowned upon during the campaign. It was politically incorrect. He was elected as Barack Obama. It was only after his inauguration that Obama began referring to himself by his full name. Regarding the abolition of slavery in America, let us hope that the Muslims will also free the slaves currently held in Muslim countries.

But my personal story is not so unique. The dream of opportunity for all people has not come true for everyone in America, but its promise exists for all who come to our shores. And that includes nearly 7 million American Muslims in our country today who, by the way, enjoy incomes and educational levels that are higher than the American average.

Why are American Muslims doing better than other Americans? It would appear that American Muslims are benefitting from democracy and capitalism, as well as from their ability to maintain their religious and cultural traditions despite (or because of) modernity and globalization.

Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one's religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state in our union and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That's why the United States government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, and to punish those who would deny it.

Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one's religion. Let us hold Obama accountable to that statement.

Although Obama mentions the right of women and girls to wear a head-covering, he does not say anything about their right not to wear it. The real issue is whether or not women and girls have a right to choose. This was one of the worst statements in Obama's speech.

So let there be no doubt...


... let there be no doubt, Islam is a part of America. And I believe that America holds within her the truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share common aspirations: to live in peace and security, to get an education and to work with dignity, to love our families, our communities, and our God. These things we share. This is the hope of all humanity.

Again, it is good to hear Obama praise America. ...America holds within her... Indeed, most people aspire to basic human needs: education, work, love, cooperation. However, not all humanity wants or is capable of love and cooperation. The Obamian perspective does not seem to account for the existence of evil, or how some people become evil, or how all humanity is to be protected from evil. If terrorists are violent extremists, and if all humanity has common aspirations, then the associated problems can be reduced in severity and the solutions can be simplified with regard to effort. We can all go back to a pre-9/11 world, back to a 1960-ish dawning of the Age of Aquarius.

Of course, recognizing our common humanity is only the beginning of our task. Words alone cannot meet the needs of our people. These needs will be met only if we act boldly in the years ahead. And if we understand that the challenges we face are shared and our failure to meet them will hurt us all.

Who are our people? Every now and then, Obama says something that sounds lofty of the surface, but is actually vague and questionable. There are inconsistencies and contradictions in Obama's style of presentation, a juxtaposition of facts, examples, re-labeling of terms, and vague assertions that beg for precise definition. Is our people the world, or the Muslims to whom Obama is speaking, or the Americans whom Obama serves as President? Is our people a new union of some sort? Is it in reference to the family of man?

What does it mean to act boldly? Does it mean to go to war? Does it mean to gather non-extremist peoples into a collective unit? Does it mean that the Muslim World is not carrying its share of the burden in confronting terrorism?

For we have learned from recent experience that when a financial system weakens in one country, prosperity is hurt everywhere. When a new flu infects one human being, all are at risk. When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon, the risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations.

It is partly true that any malfunction in one system affects all systems, or has some potential to affect all systems. However, the financial disaster in America affected worldwide systems because the American dollar is the strongest. If Estonia had a total financial breakdown, this would not affect the prosperity or stability of all the world's systems. Financial problems cannot be compared to disease. The flu spreads through germs. Yes, it is serious and has the potential to infect and kill millions. But, diseases have spread among people throughout history, even before globalization. Diseases will continue to spread and we will continue to develop medicines. Finance and disease cannot be compared to nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons are dangerous in the hands of maniacal leaders, but a means of ultimate self-defense in the hands of Americans.

The above three comparisons are a very awkward section of Obama's speech. I feel like he is trying to make a point about sharing responsibility, mutual self-protection, and the brotherhood of man, but it just does not mesh together. On the contrary, it sounds like the politics of fear, something of which Obama often accused Bush. I just get this queasy feeling that collectivity (as opposed to cooperation) is viewed as more important than independent and sovereign power and prosperity.

When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains, people are endangered across an ocean. When innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective conscience.


Obama continues in this vague and awkward presentation of his material. I am not sure that the world has a collective conscience. Yes, we have political and neighborly relationships with one another. Yes, we should help others wherever there is need--so long as we have the resources to do so. Yes, America has failed miserably at times to do the right thing. But, America must somehow resolve these failures internally, as a matter of national identity and efficacy.

Likewise, other countries must do the same according to their own identities and within the dimensions of their national aspirations. It is not necessarily a worldwide collective process (again, I am contrasting collectivity with cooperation), but rather a highly personal and national definition of what it means to be American (or Egyptian, or Brazilian, or German, etc.).

That is what it means to share this world in the 21st Century. That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings. This is a difficult responsibility to embrace, for human history has often been a record of nations and tribes, and, yes, religions subjugating one another in pursuit of their own interests.

When Obama says that religions have often subjugated one another, is he referring to Islam? Christianity? Israel? Palestine? Jim Jones? All of the above? When Muslims listen to this, do they relate it to Christians? And do Christians relate it to Muslims?

Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners to it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership, our progress must be shared.


Perhaps we have reached some of the distinguishing features of the Obamain presidency: a new age, a world order, collectivity, and a politics of fear and urgency. We certainly do not want fanatic Islamic states to be elevated above democracies but, let's face it, some countries are better than others. Some countries have more freedom, opportunities, and cleaner air! Some countries are naturally elevated above others, not because of arrogance, tyranny, or imperialism, but because of their constitutions and values. No country should be obligated to share with another country that abuses human rights or squanders resources. There must be limits and standards, the application of which tends to elevate some countries above others.

As Americans, we believe that all people are created equally, that all have rights. But, not all people behave equally well. When the rights of others are violated, whether by individuals or nations, then those behaviors are not to be tolerated. These are not merely sources of tension as Obama states in the next paragraph, but grievous violations against human rights and human potential. A source of tension is similar to a violent extremist: it is a sort of non-offensive softening of the real issues, the roots or causes of those issues, the necessary solutions, and the effort required to implement those solutions.

Now, that does not mean we should ignore sources of tension. Indeed, it suggests the opposite. We must face these tensions squarely. And so, in that spirit, let me speak as clearly and as plainly as I can about some specific issues that I believe we must finally confront together.

It is too late for Obama to turn back. He has already emphasized his concerns and his perspective in defining those concerns, as well as his general method for coping or for solving problems: the re-labeling of descriptive terms (not for the development of a working lexicon, but in compliance with political correctness and in denial of the ideological aspect of terrorism), and collectivity as the preferred method of coping with extremism and of relating to one another. It could be suspected that the sources of tension are those which upset the collective order, an order which Obama seems to be attempting to create.


Allow me to pause and summarize Obama's speech up to this point. It is a speech of outreach to Muslims. In the attempt to re-engage that part of the world under post-Iraq War conditions, however, there also seems to be an emphasis on an artificial or exaggerated division between Muslims and the rest of the world (particularly Christians and Jews). Even though Obama simultaneously emphasizes commonalities, his speech reminds me of former Senator John Edwards' two Americas theme. A problem, such as poverty, is described in terms of extreme contrasts rather than in terms of an evaluation of all the complicated and real dynamics.

The commonalities, which can stir positive self-interest and collective survival in a dangerous world, seem to stretch beyond cooperative relationships for the preservation of self and world. It could be suspected that the commonalities are being used for the purpose of collectivity within itself. That is to say, a new world order based on the political correctness du jour.

At times, Obama praises America and offers examples of democracy from American history. This is appropriate, but also confusing. Is Obama really praising America? I hope so. Is he attempting to use American history, selecting certain quotations, to justify the building of a new world order and to prep everyone to accept his rightful leadership in this new world? Or, is Obama conflicted within himself? It could be imagined that Obama, being biracial and having grown up in various cultures, is seeking cohesion within himself by attempting to bring the world together in wholeness and harmony. The world might then affirm and reflect his own sense of completeness.

Perhaps this is why Obama uses self-disclosure. It could be imagined that he identifies with different races and cultures on a genuine level: that he has experienced people as equal and having common aspirations, from his childhood in Indonesia to his days as a community organizer in Chicago. Perhaps he is trying to balance his multicultural background and attachments with an appreciation of and a loyalty to America. The result (in this imaginative schema) is the development of a collective unit in which everyone shares and no one is elevated above the other in terms of personal worthiness.

Whatever the psychological and political dynamics of Obama's speech, it should not be this difficult to figure out what he is really saying. His opinions and ideas should be clearly stated, and he should provide precise definitions of his words and terms. Nothing should be left open to personal interpretation, imagination, or guesswork.

Let's move on to the remainder of Obama's speech. In the paragraphs that follow, Obama talks about seven areas of concern: (1) violent extremism, (2) Israel and Palestine, (3) nuclear weapons, (4) democracy, (5) religious freedom, (6) women's rights, and (7) economic development. Perhaps we will begin to understand what it means for Obama to act boldly.


The first issue that we have to confront is violent extremism in all its forms. In Ankara, I made clear that America is not and never will be at war with Islam.


We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject, the killing of innocent men, women and children. And it is my first duty as president to protect the American people.

The situation in Afghanistan demonstrates America's goals and our need to work together. Over seven years ago, the United States pursued al-Qaida and the Taliban with broad international support. We did not go by choice. We went because of necessity. I'm aware that there's still some who would question or even justify the offense of 9/11. But let us be clear. Al-Qaida killed nearly 3,000 people on that day.

The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody. And yet al-Qaida chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale. They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach.

These are not opinions to be debated. These are facts to be dealt with. Make no mistake, we do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We see no military we seek no military bases there. It is agonizing for America to lose our young men and women. It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict.

We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan, and now Pakistan, determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can. But that is not yet the case.

And that's why we're partnering with a coalition of 46 countries. And despite the costs involved, America's commitment will not weaken. Indeed, none of us should tolerate these extremists. They have killed in many countries. They have killed people of different faiths but, more than any other, they have killed Muslims. Their actions are irreconcilable with the rights of human beings, the progress of nations, and with Islam.

The above six paragraphs are among the best in the speech. Obama placed responsibility for 9/11 on al-Qaida (not on the Bush administration as some radicals probably would have wanted him to do), affirmed the innocence of those who were killed on that day, and clearly stated that such attacks should not be tolerated. He also stated that al-Qaida has killed Muslims. Even so, Obama still did not refer to al-Qaida as a terrorist organization or to its ideological aspirations.

The holy Quran teaches that whoever kills an innocent is as--it is as it if has killed all mankind.


And the holy Quran also says whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind.


The enduring faith of over a billion people is so much bigger than the narrow hatred of a few. Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism; it is an important part of promoting peace.

This sounds a lot like Bush.

Now, we also know that military power alone is not going solve the problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That's why we plan to invest $1.5 billion each year over the next five years to partner with Pakistanis to build schools and hospitals, roads and businesses, and hundreds of millions to help those who've been displaced.

That's why we are providing more than $2.8 billion to help Afghans develop their economy and deliver services that people depend on.

The rebuilding of Iraq and Afghanistan already began under Bush. The courageous and dedicated efforts of America's military and other individuals and organizations received very little attention in the mainstream news media. And, Obama himself seems reluctant to validate these past accomplishments and relationships.

Now, let me also address the issue of Iraq. Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world. Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible.


Obama skims over, perhaps with appropriate diplomacy, the issues of preemptive war, the gathering of intelligence, weapons of mass destruction, and whether or not Bush lied. At this point, and in this speech, perhaps Obama was wise to focus on a post-Iraq vision of the future.

Indeed, we can recall the words of Thomas Jefferson, who said: "I hope that our wisdom will grow with our power and teach us that the less we use our power, the greater it will be."

Today America has a dual responsibility to help Iraq forge a better future and to leave Iraq to Iraqis. I have made it clear to the Iraqi people...


I have made it clear to the Iraqi people that we pursue no basis and no claim on their territory or resources. Iraq's sovereignty is its own. And that's why I ordered the removal of our combat brigades by next August. That is why we will honor our agreement with Iraq's democratically-elected government to remove combat troops from Iraqi cities by July and to remove all of our troops from Iraq by 2012.


We will help Iraq train its security forces and develop its economy. But we will support a secure and united Iraq as a partner and never as a patron.

And finally, just as America can never tolerate violence by extremists, we must never alter or forget our principles. 9/11 was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable. But in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our traditions and our ideals.

We are taking concrete actions to change course. I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States. And I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year.


Perhaps the above two paragraphs have introduced us to the essence of the Obamian perspective: moral righteousness and authoritarianism. Obama was against the Iraq War and is against torture (or interrogation techniques which some others would not define as torture) as a matter of principle. Moreover, beneath the surface message, Obama seems to be apologizing to Muslims for the Iraq War, while defending Americans as having been understandably afraid and angry. This is one of the most convoluted messages in his speech. He is against the Iraq War, but rationalizes or diminishes any disagreement with his view. He apologizes, but states that the actions for which he is apologizing are not characteristic of Americans--that some Americans over-reacted.

Obama already admitted that Iraq is better off without Saddam Hussein. Yet, it is as though he could not resist, perhaps driven by his own sense of moral certitude, to mention the issues of torture and Guantanamo Bay. It is as though he could not give any credit to George W. Bush or to the successes and contributions of the United States military. It is al-Qaida that has committed atrocities--not as aberration but as policy. Obama's focus should have been exclusively on al-Qaida and the terror they have inflicted on the world.

Obama seems to be essentially saying that the Iraq War was a mistake, and that it was based on human emotional reaction. This is an insult to American government, military, and citizens. Obama has cast an entire era as having been mentally incapacitated and, therefore, that is why they acted contrary to American traditions and ideals. People had different levels of emotional reaction to 9/11, and people recovered from the trauma in different ways. Going to war was not a symptom of mass mental illness or a therapeutic exercise to alleviate 9/11 trauma.

There seems to be a twist of logic in Obama's presentation. Undoubtedly, Obama has heard or read about discussions on the narcissism in our culture and politics. Some people think Obama is a narcissist. Some people think his followers idolize him. As for 9/11 trauma, the ones who seem unable to overcome their trauma are the ones who accuse Bush of having orchestrated the 9/11 attack, and the ones who justify terrorism and blame America. It is within current liberal politics that certain paychological dynamics seem to be at work (denial, projection, blame, chronic anger). The twist is that Obama seems to have foisted the concept of mental illness onto to the past eight years of anti-terror efforts, thereby defocusing from the analyses of himself and his followers. And, he did this in front of the whole world. He did this while addressing an important audience about the crucial topic of America's relationship with Muslims.

So America will defend itself, respectful of the sovereignty of nations and the rule of law. And we will do so in partnership with Muslim communities, which are also threatened. The sooner the extremists are isolated and unwelcome in Muslim communities, the sooner we will all be safer.

So America will defend itself,... Let us hold Obama accountable to that statement. The sooner the extremists are isolated and unwelcome in Muslim communities, the sooner we will all be safer. This was probably the most courageous remark made by Obama. This is the key to overcoming terrorism: Muslims must rid their own countries of terrorist outposts. Otherwise, working from the outside, we must rely on diplomacy, sanctions, surveillance, intelligence, partnerships, and self-defense. And, America could again be faced with discussions of the legitimacy and necessity of preemptive war.

Now, the second major source of tension that we need to discuss is the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world. America's strong bonds with Israel are well-known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.

Around the world the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries. And anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich.

Six million Jews were killed, more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless. It is ignorant, and it is hateful.

Threatening Israel with destruction or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews is deeply wrong and only serves to evoke in the minds of the Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.

In the above four paragraphs, Obama affirms a positive relationship with Israel, affirms the historical reality of the Holocaust, and condemns anti-Semitism. This could be interpreted as a bold admonishment toward Iran's president. But, wait, let us proceed cautiously to the next paragraph.

On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people, Muslims and Christians, have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than 60 years, they've endured the pain of dislocation.

This is one of the worst parts of Obama's speech. There is no comparison between the Holocaust and the dislocation of people. The Holocaust involved the persecution and killing of millions of innocent people, based on their religion and culture. While the dislocation of people is a severe problem (just to provide an example of another kind of dislocation, we have people in America who were and continue to be dislocated by Hurricane Katrina), it does not fall into the same category as the decimation of people.

Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations, large and small, that come with occupation.

So let there be no doubt, the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. And America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity and a state of their own.


For decades, then, there has been a stalemate. Two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It's easy to point fingers.

For Palestinians to point to the displacement brought about by Israel's founding and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history, from within its borders as well as beyond.

But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth. The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.


What is this truth to which we are blinded? Are truth and a resolution the same thing? Can it not be that one side is right and the other wrong? Does such a resolution involve compromise? Can the truth be compromised? Is the truth the same as cooperation? Is Obama attempting to be fair? Or neutral? Is neutrality possible? What is in America's best interest? Why is it so difficult to figure out what Obama is really saying?

That is in Israel's interests, Palestine's interests, America's interests and the world's interests. And that's why I intend to personally pursue this outcome with all of the patience and dedication that the task requires.

The obligations--the obligations that the parties have agreed to under the Road Map are clear. For peace to come, it is time for them and all of us to live up to our responsibilities.

Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and it does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America's founding.

Again, Obama refers to slavery in America. What about the slavery that exists in present-day Muslim countries? Where is the so-called collective conscience?

This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia, to Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It's a story with a simple truth: violence is a dead end. It is a sign neither of courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children or to blow up old women on a bus. That's not how moral authority is claimed, that's how it is surrendered.

Although no one would argue with the surface content of this statement, it must be pointed out that Obama also seemed to use this statement to illustrate moral authority. Moral authority, perhaps even superiority, seems to be very important to Obama. Is Obama defending children and old women, or asserting his self-image of moral righteousness to the world? This is not an attempt to psychoanalyze Obama, but rather it is a close analysis of words and sentences and Obama's peculiar juxtaposition of different thoughts.

Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build. The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern with institutions that serve the needs of its people.

Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have to recognize they have responsibilities, to play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, recognize Israel's right to exist.

At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.


This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.


And Israel must also live up to its obligation to ensure that Palestinians can live and work and develop their society. Just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel's security, neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank.

Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be a critical part of a road to peace. And Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.

And, finally, the Arab states must recognize that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibility. The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems. Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state, to recognize Israel's legitimacy and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past.

America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and we will say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs.

We cannot impose peace. But privately, many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away. Likewise, many Israelis recognize the need for a Palestinian state.

It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true. Too many tears have been shed, too much blood has been shed.

All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians could, can see their children grow up without fear, when the holy land of the three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be, when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra--as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed--peace be upon them--joined in prayer.


The third source of tension is our shared interest in the rights and responsibilities of nations on nuclear weapons. This issue has been a source of tension between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran. For many years, Iran has defined itself, in part, by its opposition to my country. And there is, in fact, a tumultuous history between us.

Is Obama using the defense mechanism of projection? When he says that Iran has defined itself in opposition to the United States, could it not also be suspected that Obama has defined himself in opposition to Bush? Or in rivalry with Bush? It seems that Obama continually refers to past Bush policies in his speeches and comments. In fact, some critics of Obama feel that he is still campaigning against the Bush administration. Whether or not Obama intends it, constant reference to Bush keeps the old hatred alive among hardcore liberals. If Obama is going to reach out to Muslims, let him also reach out to Americans by letting go of his ongoing campaign-style criticisms of Bush. Let Obama define himself and his policies without defocusing onto a convenient scapegoat.

In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians. This history is well known.

Rather than remain trapped in the past, I've made it clear to Iran's leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward. The question now is not what Iran is against but, rather, what future it wants to build.

What if the two go together? If the president of Iran defines himself in opposition to America, what if such opposition is the stuff on which the Iranian president wants to build a future?

It was only shortly after Obama gave his speech that Iran had a presidential election. It was quickly reported that the current president, Ahmadinejad, was re-elected with an overwhelming majority of votes. Among the citizens of Iran, accusations of election fraud were directed toward the current regime. There were protests in the streets--bold actions. Many of the protesters were from Iran's younger generation. It was reported that one protester asked for Obama to intervene and help them (if one felt this way, there were certainly others). The European Union advocated for an investigation of the vote outcome. Meanwhile, Afghanistan and Turkey sent messages of congratulations to Ahmadinejad.

President Obama remained silent on this situation for nearly three days. When he finally spoke, after the European leaders had already expressed their concerns, he affirmed that Iran was a sovereign nation and had the right to resolve their own problems. He stated, however, that he was "deeply troubled" by the violence which had erupted. As I type this paragraph on Monday evening, Iran has just asked foreign reporters to leave the country. In other words, censorship is being put into effect. **

Should Obama have acted boldly, especially after having given an outreach speech to the Muslim World? Will Obama's personal sense of fairness, neutrality, and moral righteousness prove not to be politically helpful? Should Obama have appealed to the so-called collective conscience of the world, or have formed an American partnership with the European Union on this situation? Will Ahmadinejad respect or trust Obama for not challenging his re-election? Will this enable Obama to have a positive influence on Ahmadinejad, on behalf of the Iranian people as well as for the purpose of world peace?

Obama did nothing, and said very little. Although the situation is delicate, Obama could have given a more definitive statement. Obama possibly missed an opportunity to bring freedom to a generation of Iranians who appear to be pro-American. And, the whole world is watching.

I recognize it will be hard to overcome decades of mistrust, but we will proceed with courage, rectitude, and resolve. There will be many issues to discussion between our two countries, and we are willing to move forward without preconditions on the basis of mutual respect.

But it is clear to all concerned that when it comes to nuclear weapons, we have reached a decisive point. This is not simply about America's interests.

It's about preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead this region and the world down a hugely dangerous path.

Now, I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No single nations should pick and choose which nation holds nuclear weapons. And that's why I strongly reaffirmed America's commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons.


Can anyone really imagine a world in which America does not have nuclear weapons? Well, perhaps the mind of a terrorist would savor the thought. America, a responsible democracy, should not set protective limits on countries which are a threat to the world? Is that what Obama is saying? All countries should agree on which countries are permitted to have nuclear weapons? Is that what Obama is saying? But, what is Obama's solution to the nuclear arms race? He will seek a world in which nobody has nuclear weapons.

Who will be the first to let go of their nuclear weapons? America? North Korea? Or, will all countries agree to disassemble all their nuclear weapons at the same time? What will happen to the knowledge to build nuclear weapons? Will those papers and books also be eliminated? Will all computers be scanned for nuclear weapon instruction programs? And nobody is going to stash away nuclear weapon information in a secret hiding place?!

It could now be suspected that Obama's sense of fairness and moral righteousness has the potential to extend into utopian fantasy. Utopias have never succeeded--and America has a history of attempts at utopian societies. The only way nuclear disarmament could have any inkling of a chance for success is if there were a one-world government with a democratically elected, cult-like leader. Such a cult leader would be served by devotees throughout the world who would enforce the ban against nuclear weapons.

And any nation, including Iran, should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That commitment is at the core of the treaty. And it must be kept for all who fully abide by it. And I am hopeful that all countries in the region can share in this goal.

Why is America not utilizing such nuclear power?

The fourth issue that I will address is democracy.


I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years. And much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear. No system of government can or should be imposed by one nation by any other. That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people.

This is another area in which Obama hints at criticisms of Bush. Of course, democracy cannot be imposed on any nation. An imposed democracy would not be democracy. Do the people of Iran want democracy? Apparently so. Does Ahmadinejad want democracy? It appears he wants it, but only if it suits his political ambitions. So, if the people want democracy but their leader wants absolute power, how do you respect the will of the people without imposing democracy on the nation's power structure?

Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election.

Again, of course, America is not going to pick the outcome of another country's peaceful election. But what if the election was not peaceful? What if the election process was corrupted? What if the election results were announced before there was even enough time to count all the votes? What if the election outcome does not reflect the will of the people? How should the America react? America cannot and should not militarily intervene in every situation, but there are other ways to show support.

But 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. These are not just American ideas. They are human rights. And that is why we will support them everywhere.


This sounds a lot like Bush.

Now, there is no straight line to realize this promise. But this much is clear. Governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments, provided they govern with respect for all their people.

Although Obama mentions America's experience with slavery and the subjugation of women (in a following paragraph), he never mentions the suppression of ideas in America. Perhaps Obama should apologize to Americans for the revisionist history textbooks in our children's schools, for the universities that teach from a hardcore liberal viewpoint, and for the crude stereotyping of America by hardcore liberals. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. Let us hold Obama accountable to that statement.

This last point is important because 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.


So no matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who would hold power. You must maintain your power through consent, not coercion. You must respect the rights of minorities and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise. You must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party.

Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.

The people of Iran already know this.


Thank you.


The fifth issue that we must address together is religious freedom. Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance. We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition. I saw it firsthand as a child in Indonesia where devout Christians worshipped freely in an overwhelmingly Muslim country.

That is the spirit we need today. People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind and the heart and the soul.

Let us hold Obama accountable to that statement. That statement must also include Christians in America.

This tolerance is essential for religion to thrive. But it's being challenged in many different ways. Among some Muslims, there's a disturbing tendency to measure one's own faith by the rejection of somebody else's faith.

The richness of religious diversity must be upheld, whether it is for Maronites in Lebanon or the Copts in Egypt.


And if we are being honest, fault lines must be closed among Muslims as well as the divisions between Sunni and Shia have led to tragic violence, particularly in Iraq.

Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together. We must always examine the ways in which people protect it. For instance, in the United States, rules on charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation.

The problem with so-called charitable giving is when the monies are channeled into terrorist organizations.

That's why I'm committed to work with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfill zakat. Likewise, it is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit, for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear.

What, exactly, is Obama referring to? Who in America is dictating how a Muslim woman should dress? I have heard about instances within the motor vehicle department in which Muslim women were asked to remove their head covering for the purpose of an I.D. photo. I think this was especially troublesome among women who wore not only the head covering but a face covering as well. In other words, only their eyes showed. This was a long time ago, I do not know how it was resolved, and I have not heard of any more such encounters.

To the best of my knowledge, Muslim women and girls are not impeded from wearing a head covering in America. Women wear them in public, and girls wear them in public schools. Perhaps Obama is referring to isolated incidents which were not widely reported and which have already been resolved. Such dictating certainly does not seem to be a national problem.

The real issue is the right of Muslim women and girls NOT to wear a head covering or other forms of Muslim clothing. In some Muslim areas, women are beaten for not dressing according to that area's particular standard of religious clothing. If Obama has an unyielding belief that all people yearn for the freedom to live as they choose, then let him support a Muslim woman's right to dress as she chooses: meaning, in a Western style if that is what she wants.

We know there are young Muslim women who wear jeans under their traditional outfit. Is this due to the negative influence of modernity and globalization? Is this a deterioration of tradition and spirituality? Since Muslim men are permitted to dress in Western clothing, it cannot be true that Western clothing itself debases the Islamic faith. There seems to be a double standard which is probably cultural rather than spiritual.

Some of us might remember the days when Christian women were not allowed to wear pants in church. It was considered sloppy, disrespectful, and almost immoral to wear pants in a house of worship. Men wore pants. Women wore dresses (and heels and nylon stockings). The odd thing is that pants keep a woman covered, while a dress or skirt exposes her legs. It probably was not until the introduction of the pantsuit that it became acceptable for women to wear pants in the office, and then eventually in church. The point is this: Christian women have a choice. They can choose when and where to wear dresses or pants. And, it would be extremely difficult to argue that wearing pants has made women less spiritual.

We can't disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretense of liberalism. In fact, faith should bring us together. And that's why we're forging service projects in America to bring together Christians, Muslims and Jews.

That's why we welcome efforts like Saudi Arabian King Abdullah's interfaith dialogue and Turkey's leadership in the Alliance of Civilizations.

Around the world, we can turn dialogue into interfaith service so bridges between peoples lead to action, whether it is combating malaria in Africa or providing relief after a natural disaster.

The sixth issue--the sixth issue that I want to address is women's rights.


I know, and you can tell from this audience, that there is a healthy debate about this issue. I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal. But I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is denied equality.


Let us hope that the women who get an education will not be then have acid thrown in face if they do not wear a head covering to class. Otherwise, Obama's use of the word equality is moot. Nevertheless, education for women and girls should be a right, and I am glad he included this section in his speech.

And it is no coincidence that countries where women are well-educated are far more likely to be prosperous.

Now let me be clear, issues of women's equality are by no means simply an issue for Islam. In Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, we've seen Muslim-majority countries elect a woman to lead.

Meanwhile, the struggle for women's equality continues in many aspects of American life and in countries around the world. I am convinced that our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons.


This is one of the worst parts of the speech. The status of women in America cannot possibly be compared to the status of women in fanatic Islamic areas, or to that of women in any part of the world where they are trafficked into the sex trade and slavery. Women in America have the right to get an education, to have a career, to travel independently, to drive cars, to shake hands with a man. It does not matter if Obama feels convinced that our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons. This is everyday reality in America, whether or not Obama is convinced of it.

Our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity, men and women, to reach their full potential. I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal. And I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice.

That is why the United States will partner with any Muslim-majority country to support expanded literacy for girls and to help young women pursue employment through micro-financing that helps people live their dreams.


Obama advocates for education and employment for Muslim women, but not for their rights in their marriages and families.

Finally, I want to discuss economic development and opportunity. I know that for many, the face of globalization is contradictory. The internet and television can bring knowledge and information but also offensive sexuality and mindless violence into the home.

Trade can bring new wealth and opportunities but also huge disruptions and change in communities. In all nations, including America, this change can bring fear; fear that, because of modernity, we lose control over our economic choices, our politics, and most importantly, our identities, those things we most cherish about our communities, our families, our traditions and our faith.

But I also know that human progress cannot be denied. There need not be contradictions between development and tradition. Countries like Japan and South Korea grew their economies enormously while maintaining distinct cultures. The same is true for the astonishing progress within Muslim majority countries from Kuala Lumpur to Dubai.

In ancient times and in our times, Muslim communities have been at the forefront of innovation and education. And this is important because no development strategy can be based only upon what comes out of the ground nor can it be sustained while young people are out of work.

Many Gulf States have enjoyed great wealth as a consequence of oil, and some are beginning to focus it on broader development. But all of us must recognize that education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century. And in too...


And in too many Muslim communities, there remains underinvestment in these areas. I am emphasizing such investment within my own country. And while America, in the past, has focused on oil and gas when it comes to this part of the world, we now seek a broader engagement.

On education, we will expand change programs and increase scholarships like the one that brought my father to America.


At the same time, we will encourage more Americans to study in Muslim communities. And we will match promising Muslim students with internships in America, invest in online learning for teachers and children around the world and create a new, online network so a young person in Kansas can communicate instantly with a young person in Cairo.

On economic development, we will create a new core of business volunteers to partner with counterparts in Muslim majority countries. And I will host a summit on entrepreneurship this year to identify how we can deepen ties between business leaders, foundations and social entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities around the world.

On science and technology, we will launch a new fund to support technological development in Muslim majority country and to help transfer ideas to the marketplace so they can create more jobs. We will open centers of scientific excellence in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia and appoint new science envoys to collaborate on programs that develop new sources of energy, create green jobs, digitize records, clean water, grow new crops.

Today, I'm announcing a new global effort with the organization of the Islamic Conference to eradicate polio. And we will also expand partnerships with Muslim communities to promote child and maternal health.

All these things must be done in partnership. Americans are ready to join with citizens and governments, community organizations, religious leaders, and businesses in Muslim communities around the world to help our people pursue a better life.

The issues that I have described will not be easy to address, but we have a responsibility to join together to behalf of the world that we seek, a world where extremists no longer threaten our people and American troops have come home; a world where Israelis and Palestinians are each secure in a state of their own and nuclear energy is used for peaceful purposes, a world where governments serve their citizens and the rights of all God's children are respected. Those are mutual interests. That is the world we seek. But we can only achieve it together. I know there are many, Muslim and non-Muslim, who question whether we can forge this new beginning. Some are eager to stoke the flames of division and to stand in the way of progress. Some suggest that it isn't worth the effort, that we are fated to disagree and civilizations are doomed to clash.

Many more are simply skeptical that real change can occur. There is so much fear, so much mistrust that has built up over the years. But if we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move forward. And I want to particularly say this to young people of every faith in every country. You more than anyone have the ability to reimagine the world, the remake this world.

The Iranians seem to be doing that right now, during their brief moment in time (see the paragraph below), risking their lives to make the future better.

All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart or whether we commit ourselves to an effort, a sustained effort to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children and to respect the dignity of all human beings.

It's easier to start wars than to end them. It's easier to blame others than to look inward. It's easier to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path. There is one rule that lies at the heart of every religion, that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.


Let Obama show the way by his own example.

This truth transcends nations and peoples, a belief that isn't new, that isn't black or white or brown, that isn't Christian or Muslim or Jew. It's a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization and that still beats in the hearts of billions around the world. It's a faith in other people. And it's what brought me here today.

Obama closes his speech with a very confusing statement. He said that there is one rule at the heart of every religion: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Then, he says there is a truth that transcends races, governments, cultures, and religions: a faith in other people. He seems to have moved from a sort of interfaith invitation to unity, to a non-religious definition of truth which he regards as higher than religion.

It is difficult to follow his thought pattern. It seems to go like this: (A) the right path, (B) which is guided by the Golden Rule, (C) which is transcended by a truth, (D) which is a belief common to all people since the beginning of civilization, (E) which is a faith in other people, (F) which is why he went to Cairo to reach out to Muslims.

If Obama is a Christian, and if Muslims are really Muslims, and if Jews are really Jews, then the above pattern cannot be put forth as a commonality--especially if this pattern is regarded as superior to the religious beliefs held by Christians, Muslims, and Jews. Religion involves belief in a power higher than self, usually belief in a supreme being. Religion does not involve a faith in people. Faith in people does not transcend faith in God. By creating this sort of humanitarian but false commonality, Obama has obliterated religion.

We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written. The holy Quran tells us: "Mankind, we have created you male and a female. And we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another."

The Talmud tells us: "The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace."

The holy Bible tells us: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."


The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God's vision. Now that must be our work here on Earth.

Thank you. And may God's peace be upon you. Thank you very much.

Thank you.



As I finish typing this essay on Tuesday evening, seven people have died in the protests in Iran. It is reported that tens of thousands of people are marching in the streets. There are unofficial reports that students were massacred in Tehran. The reform candidate, Mousavi, is calling for a new election. President Obama's latest response is that he does not want to meddle in the Iranians' affairs.

After studying Obama's lengthy speech in detail, the type of speech that many people find inspirational, I am struck by Obama's lack of energy on the Iranian situation--his lack of ability to create the new beginnings about which he spoke. I understand the need for caution. We do not want to make matters worse and to continue hearing Ahmadinejad's supporters shout "Death to America" over the next several years. Nevertheless, Obama could have expressed greater acknowledgment, evaluation, and support of the people.

After all is said and done, or not said and not done, President Obama is not acting like the world leader he said he would be.

[*NOTE: Some T.V. news commentators referred to Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton having campaigned against Obama in the 2008 presidential race, specifically to their evaluations that Obama was not prepared to be Commander in Chief. This paragraph is an adaptation of those comments.]

[**NOTE: The information on the Iran election situation was heard on T.V. news programs: FOX, CNN, and MSNBC.] (Written 06/17/09: bibliography available.)

Until we meet again..............stay sane.

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