4 Jun 2009

Obama's line in the sand

You had to pinch yourself to remember that he IS an American president, I mean a president of the United States of America.

The world view Obama laid out in Cairo today was something it is almost impossible to imagine any other US leader ever attempting. I urge you to read it or watch it if you can possibly find the time.

It is a repositioning of America with the Islamic world, a grand departure from so much of what has gone before.

He lays it on the line to the Israelis – “It is time for these settlements to stop.” But he doesn’t spell out the consequences if it doesn’t happen.

He talks well of democracy but recognises that it is not America’s job to export or impose them.

It’s hard to exaggerate what this speech means. It is a phenomenal tribute to Obama that he can deliver it without bringing the house of Washington down about him – being so steeped in interfering in other people’s countries and processes.

I’d put the speech on a par with Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech delivered in America after the second world war and with Kennedy and Reagan at the Berlin wall. A watershed thus far… and next?

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18 reader comments

  1. Michel Mesut says:

    As a recent convert to Islam I was overjoyed for one with such great power over many minds to speak of the common goals for peace and reconcilation.

  2. Luke Robinson says:

    I haven’t been able to watch it yet, but I have read the text, and I was blown away. It reads like a masterpiece and is such an artful threading together of complex issues, displaying a grasp of nuance that utterly eluded most of our predecessor Presidents. Fantastic stuff. True, it did not outline specific new measures to achieve the grand goals, but it set a broad new direction that in itself is a captivating achievement. It seems that, at long last, our national nightmare of fear-mongering and jingoism as foreign policy may be nearing an end.

    1. Jim Flavin says:

      Too true – there was nothing specific – braod new measures – load of rubbish . Obama has no more interest in giving fair play to the Plaestinians than his predeccors – time will tell – but he is 100% on side of Israelis . Words are cheap.

  3. Justin says:

    The title of your blog is perfect. The thing about lines in sand is that by the morning they have vanished. The mass hypnosis continues.

    Here is a quote from Ahmadinejad’s recent speech to the UN Conference on Racism – “My dear friends, you should know that moving in line with justice and human dignity is like moving quickly on a stream of water. Let’s not forget the valuable elixir of love and compassion. The guarantee for a clear future for human beings is a great asset that can keep us more aware and more hopeful than ever before. It can enable us to create a world full of love and blessing and can be free from poverty and hatred. We will also be able to profit from the blessings of God and have the advantage of having a decent management of a complete human being”.

    Why was this not broadcast as the hand of friendship that Obama is looking for or the words of a great statesman? The reason is because he opposes Israel’s occupation of Palestine and Amerca’s expansionist policies.

    Welcome to your future.

    1. phil dicks says:

      It wasn’t ‘a hand of friendship’, just one-sided lovey-dovey. I read a speech, once, about the-state-of-the-poor-and-their-wretched-plight. It moved me to tears; convinced it was by Aneurin Bevan, you can imagine the shock when it turned out to be by Adolf Hitler.
      Words are words, but Obama was yielding something – Ahmedinajad wasn’t.

  4. Saltaire Sam says:

    I’ve just watched the speech and can only say Amen.

    President Obama has a vision that I find irrisistible. If other leaders round the world don’t respond, their people must insist. We all depend on each other as never before and ordinary people must speak up for what is right.

    It will all take time. But with this man at the helm and the rest of us willing to stand up and support him, just maybe it can be done.

  5. Mike Hind says:

    Something to smile about today. It was more businesslike than frothy and his use of the word ‘intolerable’ to describe the Palestinian situation made a massively refreshing change from the usual anodyne expressions of the nebulous desire for a solution. Too bad that I feel inspired by the US President and in despair about casting my vote here this evening.

  6. Dan Ehrlich says:

    As usual, my President offered a well thought out and highly intelligent speech that was rational in almost all aspects except one: The assumption that his audience was as rational and receptive.

    The major mistakes America has made since Vietnam is assuming other countries think as us and want to be like us. The same mistake has been made in our dealings with the Islamic world. But, lumping all these nations into one thought is also wrong.

    Staying with the Arabic world, this idea that we are engaged in a war against Islam is nonsense. This idea has long been punctuated by our support for Israel, which will remain strong no matter what happens.

    While the Palestinian problem remains unsolved,(the uktimate solution for most of the Arab street being getting rid of Israel) the reality is confronting and Imperial Iran by forming a unified block of Arab nations with Israel and the USA. The old enemy of my enemy scenario. Most Arab rulers view Iran’s Ottoman pretentions far more serious than non imperial Jewish state.

    1. Saltaire Sam says:

      No one thought the Berlin wall would come down until a few people started to believe

      No one thought South Africa could move from Apartheid without bloody revolution until a few people started to believe

      The world will be changed if enough people start to believe and refuse to accept what others believe to be inevitable.

  7. Charlie says:

    Brave step for Obama but he had better watch himself , we know what Americans do to other Americans when they walk out of step.

  8. Anthony Martin says:

    To hope for a ‘line in the sand’, after the hatreds that have been sewn with the Bush admin. is a very tall order indeed.
    Whether you are Obama or some miracle worker, a few realities remain: history leaves lifetime legacies & hatreds & revenge intentions. The growth in global population & the resource domination by the wealthy, in the face of dwindling materials, is the greatest threat matched alongside instinctive human evilness, selfishness and with hands on mass destructive weapons!
    We hope peace could manifest and prevail round the world, for as long as posible.

  9. Dan Ehrlich says:

    History has revealed only two worldwide religions that can be described as imperial faiths…Christianity and Islam. But, with Christianity a largely benign and spent force, Islam remains the lone faith with a stated goal of world domination.

    So, when President Obama speaks to the world Muslim population, its interest lies mainly in how his words and deeds will further Muslim ambitions. A main ambition is justice for the Palestinians, a people locked in conflict with an infidel people on Muslim turf.

    But, how many of the 1.2 billion-strong Muslim population actually know who and what Palestinians are is questionable. And in a largely tribal Islamic world, do they really care. What they do know is that they are Muslims. And this, not land rights or western style shopping centres, is at the heart of the dispute with the Israelis.

    The fact remains, as Obama hinted in his speech, much of the Islamic world doesn’t think Israel should be there, in line with the Iranian president’s thinking. There is no mention of Israel on official Arab maps of the area. But, Palestine, a Roman name meaning Land of the Philistines, is on their maps. Oddly, the dead ancient Indo-European Philistine nation was located in the Gaza Strip. And, it should say something about the current mess there. Gaza was the only area Israel captured from Egypt that Egypt didn’t want returned.

    It will take a massive re education of local populations in the region for accept Israel and Israelis as the largely indigenous people that DNA tests prove they still are.

    1. Justin says:

      Two points:-
      1) Do you think the Zionists are also seeking world domination?
      2) Are the majority of Israelis not of Khazar ie European origin?

  10. Rufus George says:

    This was indeed a landmark and brave speech by an American president. Obama is trying tThis was indeed a landmark and brave speech by an American president. Obama is trying to broaden the debate to include Muslim states, by emphasizing our shared values and recognising that BOTH parties have a shared responsibility to pursue peace.

    Obama’s predecessors, (including President Clinton), were always reluctant to criticise Israel regardless of its actions but are only too eager to criticise Palestine when it does something wrong, this has hindered peace in the region. I think an American President should be objective as possible.

    It’s too easy for extremists to use this perceived unfair treatment by America to promote extreme views. However with a change of tone from America, these extreme views can be countered for what they are.

    The people of Israel have a right to live in peace without fear of terrorism from their neighbours or other extreme Muslim governments. Without a Hamas Government that allows rockets into Israel on a daily basis. Likewise the people of Palestine have a right to a free State not under the yoke of occupation, there have a right not to have their land stolen by building of illegal settlements and they have a right to personal and political dignity.

    I hope this speech starts to sow seeds of reconciliation and helps to bring peace to the region.

    My prayers go out to the peoples of Israel and Palestine – Peace, Love and Happiness.
    o broaden the debate to include Muslim states, by emphasizing our shared values and recognising that BOTH parties have a shared responsibilty to pursue peace. Obama’s predecessors, (including President Clinton), were always relunctant to criticise Israel regardless of its actions but are only too eager to criticise Palestine when it does something wrong, this has hindered peace in the region. I think an American President should be objective as possible. Its too easy for extremists to use this perceived unfair treatment by American to promote more extreme views. However with a change of tone from American these extreme views can be seem for what they are.

  11. Dan Ehrlich says:

    Answering Justin’s questions, one of which has been used as anti semitic propaganda for more than 100 years: No, Zionists, or Jews, are not and never have been bent on world dominatiom. Nor has any notable Jewish figure evre stated that, nor is does the Jewish faith state such. Logistically, I can;t see how a few million hard workin Jewish people could take over the world.

    2–At leazst a third of Israel is composed on Arabic Jews, people the Arabs kicked out of their countries after 1948. This fact is seldom mentioned. As for European Jews, a major DNA testing program several years ago revealed a direct link along thye male line to the Middle East as far back as 4,000 years. The female line is clouded in mystery.

    The main omission President Obama had in his eloquent speech was about the historic and religious ties that Jews have to this land…tyhe only people to ever establish and maintain a lasting state and people in that bit of real estate.

    1. Mark Webb says:

      Dan, you neglected to mention that over 20% of Israelis are Arabs and Christians. Doesn’t that make Israel a secular state? Shouldn’t that be the norm for a democratic country in the 21st century?

      I think you’ll find that many Palestinians have a shared lineage with the original Jewish population of Israel. Something to celebrate.

  12. Mark Webb says:

    Back in Gaza, bulldozers are still destroying farm land and greenhouses.
    Fishermen are shot at by Israeli gunboats despite being in Gaza’s territorial waters.

    Gunboats also harass and ram peace activists attempting to reach Gaza.

    Sick children are refused treatment in Egypt because ex-President Abbas’ PA won’t allow it.

  13. Jim Flavin says:

    Anyone who thinks Obama will change US policy to the Palestinians – well i just cant see it . Forget the words – many politicians including Hitler were good Orators – as one US president said [ sorry forget who it was ] -” Lets Examine the Record ” – and the US / Israeli record to Palestinians is appaling – where was Obama during so called war on Gaza – and what has he done to stop the blockade of Gaza – that was going on – and children dying as a result of it – from lack of medicines – this was all happening as this wordsmith of a politican was speaking in Cairo – what has he done since this ” so called great speech ” to ease their suffering – Nothing . Gaza is a Prision – – now back to normal – ie blockaded by Israelis and starved of vital supplies – as a result of which many die . From the record – these poiticians in Israel and US have no repect for human life – and that will not change .Al they want is to get rid of Plaestinian people – and they do not care how this is done .

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