Obama's Missed Opportunity

President Obama's recent speech in Cairo was a great example of a missed opportunity to change the course of history.
 

Obama is a great speaker. While not great off-the-cuff, where he's prone to uhm's and uh's, his prepared speeches draw in millions and cause some in his presence to faint. He is charming, charismatic, and handsome. Not only that, he is a black man with Muslim roots who was elected by a country that is supposedly full of white racists. He has a teflon status granted to him by the main-stream media and his honeymoon period is barely over. On the world stage, the government in Sri Lanka recently wiped out the Tamil Tiger terrorists, Pakistani civilians have begun their own "awakening movements" (similar to the ones that sprung up in Iraq in 2006) and are on the offensive against the Taliban, and Iraq is nearly secure. The time was perfect for Obama to reach out to the Muslim world with substance and motivate the moderate majorities of those nations still under theocratic or terrorist rule to stamp out those cultures of death once and for all.
 

But he didn't.
 

There was, however, one distinct positive in his speech. Obama said that "Denying the [holocaust] is baseless. It is ignorant, and it is hateful." He said it with force and distinction, contrary to what Iranian fundamentalists, Hamas in Palestine, and the Wahhabi's have been preaching for decades. He said it not only in a speech to the Muslim world, but in a Muslim country. For that, he gets credit.

 

But instead of following it up with asking the Palestinians to cut the strings held by the Ayatollahs in Iran, he talks about the dislocation of the Palestinian people. Instead of motivating them to discard the policies of death that Hamas and Hezbollah have been pursuing for decades with suicide bombings and rocket attacks on civilians, he talks about their victimhood. Instead of instilling American support for their self-determination, which has been rejected by their leaders many times, he reverts to basic Liberalism by calling them displaced, enduring "daily humiliations, large and small, that come with occupation."

 

So let there be no doubt, the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. And America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity and a state of their own.

 

Obama stated and continued with the usual rhetoric about the Palestinians needing to build instead of destroy. This is true, but in order to rebuild, you have to first have a firm foundation. As you cannot build a house on sand, you cannot expect a peaceful country to be built by terrorist organizations.

 

One has to wonder if there would be a Hamas, Fatah, or Hezbollah today, only a few days after his speech, had Obama said "So let there be no doubt, the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. I stand before you today saying that if the Palestinian people wish to climb out from under terrorism's shadow, take up the cause of Liberty, establish a republic that can live in peace with Israel and champion human rights, and forever dismantle the terrorist network that has sought to keep the Palestinians in perpetual serfdom, America will support you in the aftermath with economic and infrastructure revitalization." Additionally, one has to question what would happen to the region, most notably in Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia, if the Palestinian scapegoat was removed from the equation.

 

This question is being posed not only with regards to Obama's great communication skills; skills that helped propel a little known and inexperienced first term senator with a lax legislative record to the office of the presidency. There are recent historical precedents of American leaders standing up to international bullies and providing direction and motivation to displaced and oppressed people.

 

In 1963, President Kennedy stood up in support of Europe in general, as well as West Germans in particular, during his famous Berlin speech by claiming "Ich bin ein Berliner". While he did not outright challenge the Soviets in Germany (his administration was busy combating their influence across the rest of the world, the most visible of which culminated into the Vietnam War), his stance was clear: We are America, and we will support you. He went on to remark about the differences between freedom and Communism, boldly throwing down the gauntlet to anyone with a question in his or her mind about which system is better, to "let them come to Berlin."

 

In 1987, President Reagan gave his famous "tear down this wall" speech at the Brandenburg Gate. The first thing he did was mention President Kennedy's visit, not speak negatively about past American foreign policy. He did not admonish the Germans for rebuilding after the war, as Obama spoke of Israel's construction. Reagan remarked that "where four decades ago there was rubble, today in West Berlin there is the greatest industrial output of any city in Germany." Obama could have taken a lesson here by pointing out the success the Israeli's have had in turning barren, rocky, desert wastelands and malarial swamps into successful farms and thriving cities and showed what can be done when your main cause is not terror, but taking care of your people. Additionally, Reagan did not seek to just have the Soviets "put an end to violence", as Obama seeks for Hamas to do. He recognized the evil of Communism and called out the leader of the Soviet Union to tear down the wall that kept millions of people from having freedom. Eleven months after he left office, the wall fell.

 

In 1991, President George H.W. Bush, called "for the Iraqi military and the Iraqi people to take matters into their own hands to force Saddam Hussein, the dictator, to step aside and to comply with the U.N. resolutions and then rejoin the family of peace-loving nations." From March 1 through March 14, 1991, the rebellion against Saddam and the Ba'ath party spread all over Iraq, with Shia and Kurdish forces taking most of the major cities within their respective areas. It was only our lack of follow up with support coupled with allowing Iraq to retain their helicopter force (despite the no-fly zones) that contributed to the bloody end of the rebellion and left a stain on our country's integrity.

 

On March 17, 2003, President George W. Bush spoke directly to the Iraqi people, promising to "help [sic] build a new Iraq that is prosperous and free." Where his father's message was ambiguous, his was clear. If they seek liberty, America will be there to help this time. America was no longer content to allow Saddam a free hand. He was blunt when he said "The day of your liberation is near." The quickness of the military campaign was not just the result of our superb armed forces, but due to the motivated Iraqi people, civilian and military, that supported the invasion by offering intelligence.

 

This is not a call for further military action in the Middle East. The main point is that in the history of the United States, we have elected politicians and we have elected leaders. Leaders do not allow terrorists to take over our embassy and hold onto it, as did President Carter. Leaders do not cut and run from a thug warlord in Somalia following a battle where the opposition lost (p. 34) at least 500 to our 18, as did President Clinton. Leaders stand on principle. They are decisive, and they do not back down or offer wishy-washy alternatives and platitudes about everybody wanting "peace".

 

President Obama has an opportunity to be a leader and bring the change he promised, especially on the foreign policy front. But if his speech at Cairo is any indication as to what to expect the next 3 ½ years, he will fail, and America will once again have to learn the difference between a politician and a leader.
President Obama's recent speech in Cairo was a great example of a missed opportunity to change the course of history.

 

Obama is a great speaker. While not great off-the-cuff, where he's prone to uhm's and uh's, his prepared speeches draw in millions and cause some in his presence to faint. He is charming, charismatic, and handsome. Not only that, he is a black man with Muslim roots who was elected by a country that is supposedly full of white racists. He has a teflon status granted to him by the main-stream media and his honeymoon period is barely over. On the world stage, the government in Sri Lanka recently wiped out the Tamil Tiger terrorists, Pakistani civilians have begun their own "awakening movements" (similar to the ones that sprung up in Iraq in 2006) and are on the offensive against the Taliban, and Iraq is nearly secure. The time was perfect for Obama to reach out to the Muslim world with substance and motivate the moderate majorities of those nations still under theocratic or terrorist rule to stamp out those cultures of death once and for all.

 

But he didn't.

 

There was, however, one distinct positive in his speech. Obama said that "Denying the [holocaust] is baseless. It is ignorant, and it is hateful." He said it with force and distinction, contrary to what Iranian fundamentalists, Hamas in Palestine, and the Wahhabi's have been preaching for decades. He said it not only in a speech to the Muslim world, but in a Muslim country. For that, he gets credit.

 

But instead of following it up with asking the Palestinians to cut the strings held by the Ayatollahs in Iran, he talks about the dislocation of the Palestinian people. Instead of motivating them to discard the policies of death that Hamas and Hezbollah have been pursuing for decades with suicide bombings and rocket attacks on civilians, he talks about their victimhood. Instead of instilling American support for their self-determination, which has been rejected by their leaders many times, he reverts to basic Liberalism by calling them displaced, enduring "daily humiliations, large and small, that come with occupation."

 

So let there be no doubt, the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. And America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity and a state of their own.

 

Obama stated and continued with the usual rhetoric about the Palestinians needing to build instead of destroy. This is true, but in order to rebuild, you have to first have a firm foundation. As you cannot build a house on sand, you cannot expect a peaceful country to be built by terrorist organizations.

 

One has to wonder if there would be a Hamas, Fatah, or Hezbollah today, only a few days after his speech, had Obama said "So let there be no doubt, the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. I stand before you today saying that if the Palestinian people wish to climb out from under terrorism's shadow, take up the cause of Liberty, establish a republic that can live in peace with Israel and champion human rights, and forever dismantle the terrorist network that has sought to keep the Palestinians in perpetual serfdom, America will support you in the aftermath with economic and infrastructure revitalization." Additionally, one has to question what would happen to the region, most notably in Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia, if the Palestinian scapegoat was removed from the equation.

 

This question is being posed not only with regards to Obama's great communication skills; skills that helped propel a little known and inexperienced first term senator with a lax legislative record to the office of the presidency. There are recent historical precedents of American leaders standing up to international bullies and providing direction and motivation to displaced and oppressed people.

 

In 1963, President Kennedy stood up in support of Europe in general, as well as West Germans in particular, during his famous Berlin speech by claiming "Ich bin ein Berliner". While he did not outright challenge the Soviets in Germany (his administration was busy combating their influence across the rest of the world, the most visible of which culminated into the Vietnam War), his stance was clear: We are America, and we will support you. He went on to remark about the differences between freedom and Communism, boldly throwing down the gauntlet to anyone with a question in his or her mind about which system is better, to "let them come to Berlin."

 

In 1987, President Reagan gave his famous "tear down this wall" speech at the Brandenburg Gate. The first thing he did was mention President Kennedy's visit, not speak negatively about past American foreign policy. He did not admonish the Germans for rebuilding after the war, as Obama spoke of Israel's construction. Reagan remarked that "where four decades ago there was rubble, today in West Berlin there is the greatest industrial output of any city in Germany." Obama could have taken a lesson here by pointing out the success the Israeli's have had in turning barren, rocky, desert wastelands and malarial swamps into successful farms and thriving cities and showed what can be done when your main cause is not terror, but taking care of your people. Additionally, Reagan did not seek to just have the Soviets "put an end to violence", as Obama seeks for Hamas to do. He recognized the evil of Communism and called out the leader of the Soviet Union to tear down the wall that kept millions of people from having freedom. Eleven months after he left office, the wall fell.

 

In 1991, President George H.W. Bush, called "for the Iraqi military and the Iraqi people to take matters into their own hands to force Saddam Hussein, the dictator, to step aside and to comply with the U.N. resolutions and then rejoin the family of peace-loving nations." From March 1 through March 14, 1991, the rebellion against Saddam and the Ba'ath party spread all over Iraq, with Shia and Kurdish forces taking most of the major cities within their respective areas. It was only our lack of follow up with support coupled with allowing Iraq to retain their helicopter force (despite the no-fly zones) that contributed to the bloody end of the rebellion and left a stain on our country's integrity.

 

On March 17, 2003, President George W. Bush spoke directly to the Iraqi people, promising to "help [sic] build a new Iraq that is prosperous and free." Where his father's message was ambiguous, his was clear. If they seek liberty, America will be there to help this time. America was no longer content to allow Saddam a free hand. He was blunt when he said "The day of your liberation is near." The quickness of the military campaign was not just the result of our superb armed forces, but due to the motivated Iraqi people, civilian and military, that supported the invasion by offering intelligence.

 

This is not a call for further military action in the Middle East. The main point is that in the history of the United States, we have elected politicians and we have elected leaders. Leaders do not allow terrorists to take over our embassy and hold onto it, as did President Carter. Leaders do not cut and run from a thug warlord in Somalia following a battle where the opposition lost (p. 34) at least 500 to our 18, as did President Clinton. Leaders stand on principle. They are decisive, and they do not back down or offer wishy-washy alternatives and platitudes about everybody wanting "peace".

 

President Obama has an opportunity to be a leader and bring the change he promised, especially on the foreign policy front. But if his speech at Cairo is any indication as to what to expect the next 3 ½ years, he will fail, and America will once again have to learn the difference between a politician and a leader.