Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A difficult speech on June 4

I thought the speech in Turkey was his major address to a Muslim country. I did not expect this.

This speech is very close to the Lebanese election and less then two weeks before the Iranian election.

The problem with the speech is that no matter what he says, Nasrallah gets the last word in Lebanon and Ahmadinejad gets the last word in Iran.

Hopefully he'll say nothing specific like in Turkey. In that best case, Nasrallah and Ahmadinejad will rightly say he is only saying words but not changing policy that is very harmful to a lot of Muslims. He is just George Bush with better speeches. That wouldn't sell in the United States, but Nasrallah is far better at Lebanese politics than Obama, and Ahmadinejad is better at Iranian. This will on net benefit them, but if he is upbeat and vague, it can be a small loss.

Possibly Obama will give a detailed evaluation of the region and some of its problems. There is no way a speech by Obama could do that without at some point clumsily offending a lot of Muslims. There is no speech that could get the approval of the US foreign policy apparatus that would not hand hundred of thousands of votes to any anti-US politician in the Middle East.

The fact that the speech is in Egypt was shocking to me. I'm sure Obama does not understand the symbol he's making by doing that. To even say the word "democracy" while standing in Egypt discredits Obama and his country. It likely is a repayment for Egypt's recent increase in cooperation with Israel, but Obama must not realize what it makes him look like. If he understood, he would have spoken somewhere else and come up with a different repayment.

I wish Obama the best of luck. But if he manages to minimize his losses, that will be an accomplishment.

1 comment:

afpakwar said...

For a take on Obama's Turkey speech, see