Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mr. Obama Speaks to the Muslim World, Again

"We Are the World” and other Obamic platitudinousnesses were delivered by video to this weekend’s gathering of wonks American, wonks European, wonks Middle Eastern, and wonks Asian in Qatar:  
Assalaamu alaykum. And on behalf of the American people—including Muslim communities across America—greetings as you gather for the 7th U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha.
 Well, Wa’alaikum Assalam back atcha!
I want to thank all those whose support has made this Forum possible, especially the Amir of Qatar, the government of Qatar and the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution. It is fitting that you gather again in Doha—a place where our countries come together to forge innovative partnerships in education and medicine, science and technology.
 Too bad the Middle East’s greatest innovators in education, medicine, science, and technology can’t be there to forge partnerships with these conferees. Quite a few of them could really use the help. No worries, though: After George Mitchell has established Peace between Israel and “Palestine” (see below), creating two states living side by side in perfect harmony, Arab leaders won’t have to keep running off to Clinics Cleveland and Mayo when they get sick, and Palestinians won’t need to send their children to Hadassah Hospital for treatment. Oh yeah, and all the rest of the world’s ills will be healed, too.
As leaders in government, academia, media, business, faith organizations and civil society, you understand that we are all bound together by common aspirations—to live with dignity, to get an education, to enjoy healthy lives, to live in peace and security, and to give our children a better future.
 Yes. “We are the world/We are the children/We are the ones who make a brighter day/So let's start giving/There's a choice we're making/We're saving our own lives/It's true we'll make a better day/Just you and me.” (But faith organizations?)
Yet you also know that the United States and Muslims around the world have often slipped into a cycle of misunderstanding and mistrust that can lead to conflict rather than cooperation.
 Gee. Would that be anything like the “cycle of violence?”
That is why in Cairo last year I called for a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect. I laid out a vision where we all embrace our responsibilities to build a world that is more peaceful and secure. It has only been eight months since Cairo, and much remains to be done. But I believe we’ve laid the groundwork to turn those pledges into action.
 See “We Are the World” above.

The United States is responsibly ending the war in Iraq; we are removing all our combat brigades from Iraq by the end of August, and we will partner with the Iraqi people on behalf of their long-term security and prosperity. In Afghanistan and beyond, we are forging partnerships to isolate violent extremists, reduce corruption and to promote good governance and development that improves lives. We remain unyielding in pursuit of a two-state solution that recognizes the rights and security of Israelis and Palestinians. And the United States will continue to stand for the human rights and dignity of people around the world.

The parallelism, excellent! We’ll pull out of Iraq, soon and responsibly (is there any other way?); also, we’ll close our eyes and click our heels together three times and wish upon a star over and over again until Israelis and Palestinians reach Peace; in return you, in Afghanistan and beyond, will become modern, woman-respecting democrats because of our forged partnerships (and a few troops? Oh, never mind them!). And, oh yeah, we’ll go on standing for human rights and dignity in . . . let’s see . . . okay, not Iran, not Burma, not China, not Honduras, not Cuba . . . but somewhere. We’ll let you know.

And while the United States will never waver in these efforts, I also pledged in Cairo to seek new partnerships in Muslim communities around the world—not just with governments, but with people, to address the issues that matter most in our daily lives. . . . Since then, my administration has made a sustained effort to listen. We’ve held thousands of events and town halls—with students, civil society groups, faith leaders and entrepreneurs—in the United States and around the world, including Secretary Clinton’s landmark visit to Pakistan. And I look forward to continuing the dialogue during my visit to Indonesia next month.

Secretary Clinton’s landmark visit to Pakistan? Really? Landmark? Other secretaries of state have been to Pakistan—even the ladies. Condi Rice was there at least a few times. Madeleine Albright went, too. Maybe it was landmark on account of its being the first visit by a secretary of state after we changed its name to Pah-kee-stahn?
Whatever. “This dialogue has helped us turn many of the initiatives I outlined in Cairo into action.” And by “action” we mean “partnering,” about which more here. In brief, though, that’s “partnering” for education, economic development, science & technology, and global health & food security. Noble pursuits all. (Wait—what happened to climate change? Maybe we’ll get to that in the summer.)
But:

None of this will be easy. Fully realizing the new beginning we envision will take a long-term commitment. But we have begun. Now, it falls to us all, governments and individuals, to do the hard work that must be done—turning words into deeds and “Writing the Next Chapter” in the ties between us, with faith in each other, on the basis of mutual respect. . . . Thank you coming to Doha in that spirit. Thank you for your work to advance the principles we share—justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings. . . . Let us succeed together. And may God’s peace be upon you.

And just when we thought it was going to be easy to fully realize the new beginning through the hard work of turning words into deeds and “writing the next chapter!”

2 comments:

  1. Since the President recently used the theological term “agnostic” to describe his new position on middle class tax increases, perhaps he is referring to his own Council of Economic Advisors as a “faith organization”. Certainly he couldn’t be describing groups who trust God more than the Center for American Progress/the White House!

    Rather than venture into unfamiliar religious territory, perhaps the President might turn to a topic with which he is far more comfortable, medicine. Thus he might self-diagnose his current political outlook and world view as symptoms of “agnosia”, defined as the inability to interpret sensations (in his case, unpleasant poll results) or recognize things (Iran and Russia have played him for a fool).

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  2. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

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