President Obama’s speech in Cairo last week, directed at the Muslim world, was one of his finest moments; something that will be remembered as a turning point in U.S./Middle East relations if his vision for cooperation and coexistence can come to fruition.
His eloquent words outlined a vision of how America can engage in new and positive ways with the Muslim world.
I applaud and congratulate the President on his courage and deft touch in confronting this difficult subject. We can be proud that we now have a President that is putting us on a path to better relations and more balanced policies in this turbulent part of the world.
The speech frankly acknowledged that the policies of the past administration have caused great harm to our country and our national interests. By dictating to others how they should behave, and imposing our views on potential partners, the United States halted its role as a leader. Leadership is not about dictating or imposing one’s will on others. Leadership is about setting a high example, convincing others to join, and then creating meaningful, positive results.
President Obama spoke of the need for honesty among Americans and among the nations in the Middle East and beyond. He stated, “There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other, to learn from each other, to respect one another, and to seek common ground.” I could not agree more. One of the methods for achieving these goals is through studying each other’s languages, history, politics, and cultures – something I have supported in the past, and will continue to in the future.
President Obama has opened a new chapter in U.S. policy by expressing an American desire to work with, rather than against, the Muslim world. He did so by speaking honestly about the key issues that greatly concern Muslims around the world, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iran, human rights and women’s rights, education, and economic opportunity. The U.S can and should work with Muslim nations and Israel on all these issues. As the President said, we must work for a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine, with the two living side by side in peace and security.
Our true strength comes from the power of our democratic ideas and values. We will advance our ideals by showing that we can listen to, learn from, and respect those with whom we do not always agree. By seeking common ground with groups and nations that have a different outlook of the world, we can work for true and sustainable peace. As President Obama said, “We should choose the right path, not just the easy path.”