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  • As Obama Speaks, Echoes of the Bush Freedom Agenda

    President Obama was true to his advance publicity today as he addressed an audience at the U.S. State Department. The almost hour-long speech had been built up, in classic Obama Administration style, through interviews, social media, tweets, and advance releases as post–Osama bin Laden outreach to the peoples of the Arab world and Middle East. The speech was intended to capture the hope and change of the Arab Spring.

    The speech was perfectly timed with prime time in the Middle East and Europe—its target audiences—and once again the Obama publicity machine delivered a fine product. The President spoke movingly of the desperate conditions that brought a young Tunisian fruit vendor to immolate himself in December, igniting protests throughout the Middle East against repressive, corrupt, and autocratic regimes. At a time when new technologies make interaction with the world so much more feasible, from cell phones to satellite TV to Internet and social media, young Arabs are no longer willing to endure a future without hope. The President also correctly pointed out that the peaceful protests have achieved regime change in two countries (with potentially more to come), something that 10 years of violent extremism has never even come close to.

    It is not likely, however, that today’s speech will be enough to turn around public sentiment among young Arabs as far as views of the U.S. and President Obama are concerned. According to a recent Pew Center survey, even in the aftermath of the Middle East uprisings, the U.S. has a favorable rating of 20 percent in Egypt and 13 percent in Jordan. The U.S. is widely perceived as having supported the very same dictators that the Obama Administration is now turning away from.

    Indeed, looking beyond the rhetoric, the Administration is struggling to keep up, trying to catch a tiger by its tail. Seated in the audience at the State Department was former peace process envoy George Mitchell, whose resignation Friday was terse and sudden. Having failed to achieve any progress whatsoever, nor present any semblance of an Obama peace plan, Mitchell resigned in disillusionment. Disillusionment is also besetting the Middle East where young demonstrators are waiting for results from their unprecedented political successes against regimes in Tunisia and Egypt.

    The Middle East, a region of 400 million people, most of whom are under 30 and most of them unemployed, desperately needs political development, respect for human rights, and economic opportunity. The “mini-Marshall Plan” for Egypt proposed by the President has a rhetorical ring to it, but it may well sink in the vast sea of Egypt’s economic problems.

    The most remarkable aspects of President Obama’s eloquent State Department Middle East speech today was its direct repudiation of his Administration’s previous policy toward the region and the ardent embrace of the policy of the Bush Administration. “We face the historic opportunity to show that we are on the side of the fruit vendor more than the dictators,” the President said—which is of course the complete opposite of his position in 2009.

    President Obama even hailed Iraq today as a shining example of Middle Eastern democracy, an example of multi-ethnic, multi-sectarian democracy in the making. Unfortunately, as the President praised the Iraqi people for choosing a democratic future, he neglected to mention the leadership of George W. Bush, the 10 years of American military involvement, the billions of dollars, and the thousands of American lives it took to achieve that progress.

    As President Obama presented his vision of the future of the Middle East, it would have been appropriate to hear an acknowledgement of American sacrifice made in the interest of real and tangible progress.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to As Obama Speaks, Echoes of the Bush Freedom Agenda

    1. Doreen, NY says:

      "Unflipping Believable"!

    2. Liberty is For Me says:

      Why is there no credit to who wrote this tripe ?

    3. Gail, Florida says:

      The most remarkable part of the speech today was Obama's flip-flop on encouraging democracy in the Middle East?!? What about his betrayal of our only ally in the region, Israel?!? A return to pre-1967 borders means the end of our strongest ally in the world! And it means the end of freedom of religion in Jerusalem! If the borders were returned to where they were in 1967, Christians & Jews would again be disallowed from visiting and worshiping at holy sites in Old Jerusalem.

    4. james, VA says:

      I am an independent and like to gain the perspective from both sides. You make some very valid points. For example, the president neglected to mention the leadership of George W. Bush.

      Why is it when it comes to the economy and the deficit, your organization fails to make the same connection? It took our nation about a decade to generate such a massive deficit. Yes, President Obama incurred a sizable amount of that but to blame him for most of it is ridiculous. President Bush and Presidents before him all ran a deficit as well. The major problem we face today began with the debt that started during Bush’s reign.

    5. Bobbie says:

      It's very good of the President to use what works for him, even if it's from his predecessor. What I didn't like was his term "impose" in regard to peace. Something like "we can't IMPOSE peace on a people." Why would he say such a thing? Peace isn't imposed. It comes within every individual person. Peace is up to a individual people.

    6. Slick in Nebraska says:

      Usually when you hear the word "peace" it in conjunction with the word "harmony." And it would be a severe stretch of the imagination to see the connection in the dissertation our President delivered yesterday. He spoke about "imposing peace" . . . wonder how one does that??? Oh I forgot, he will just TELL them and it will be so!!!!

      There is something inherently wrong with the path our country seems to be sliding into. There is no budget and hasn't been for the second year now; we don't have a viable economic plan; we don't have an actual energy plan that WORKS; we don't have a military plan for Libya and our current "non-war"; we no longer have a defined "mission" in Iraq and Afghanistan; we don't have a workable health care plan; we don't have a any concept of what the Federal Reserve is doing to our monetary system; we don't have much of anything that will create stability in our country.

      BUT what we do have is a President who continues in full-throttle campaign mode 100% of the time, who loves to play golf, entertain various groups at taxpayer expense, take lavish vacations and sometimes inviting friends along, and most of all, loves to see himself on TV and hear himself speak.

      Has anyone bothered to ask what his REAL agenda is? Who are his REAL advisors? When will he pull back the veil of secrecy and let the LIGHT shine in? Will it be too LATE for us to change course if we don't like what we see?

      There is very little we really do KNOW about what is happening to our country, and the President is very aware of the fact that knowledge is power . . . . and his clenched fist is guarding that knowledge with a vengence! One has to wonder what he is afraid to let the citizens of this country in on his secret!

    7. Ron bryan says:

      Not only did he fail to mention the sacrifices of American citizens the last 20 yrs, he still calls the current uprising in Muslim countries as democratic, when history and honesty predict just the opposite. More violence, more dictatorships for power and control and economic gain. His foreign policy never is in the interest of the USA or our allies.

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