June 4, 2009
Obama to Muslims: Make Peace, Not War
On the campus of Cairo University today, President Obama delivered a speech mainly addressed to the 1 billion plus followers of Islam around the world.
Cairo is recognized as the intellectual HQ of global Islam, so selection of Cairo as the venue for this speech was the easy part. I've read thru the transcript of the address and here are two stand-out ideas that I impressed me:
First idea: The US President bears a particular duty to resolve differences between the West and Islam.
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.
This is such an unusual formation to depict the core matter as tension between the Superpower United States and "Muslims around the world." Many non-Muslims will not agree with this conceptual framework.
Second idea: World peace hangs in the balance and peace-minded Christians, Muslims, and Jews should deploy "Golden Rule"-based ethics.
Here's the quote:
But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path. There's one rule that lies at the heart of every religion -- that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. (Applause.) 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.
Once again, Obama draws on his core commitments to pragmatic approaches to address complex political situations. His call to "a new beginning" will seem so very naive to Middle East experts, but many have also under-estimated Obama. So don't count him out yet.
We all know that President Obama can deliver a potent speech and also has incredible political skills. Now that we have the speech out of the way, let's see how willing Team Obama is in tackling the impossible, such as:
1. Middle East Terrorism
2. The Status of Jerusalem
3. Iran and its nuclear program
4. Iraqi refugees (especially Christians)
5. Egypt's soon-to-arrive political transition
And that's just 5 of this region's many problems.