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Obama’s window is closing. Arab audiences see Guantanamo still open (including in an endlessly repeating al-Jazeera promo), US troops escalating in Afghanistan, Gaza still blockaded, and no settlement freeze or peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. They have seen little follow-up on the ground on the Cairo address (regardless of what’s been cooking secretly in Washington). A narrative is clearly hardening that Obama has not delivered on his promises, and that he hasn’t really changed American policies despite his personal appeal. U.S. officials may complain that this is unfair, that it’s only been four months since Cairo, that they are preparing a lot of programs… but the world isn’t fair. This window isn’t closed yet, but it’s closing fast and opinions appear to be hardening. I don’t think that the risk here is that al-Qaeda will take advantage of it, given its weakened state — in fact, Secretary Gates made an uncharacteristic mistake when he lapsed back to the Bush-era argument that we had to win in Afghanistan because otherwise al-Qaeda would capitalize. It’s more that the mobilized Arab and Muslim publics which Obama hoped to win over will be lost.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
Rolls of toilet paper Chicago’s city government has produced this year from recycled City Hall wastepaper:
Two thirds of U.S. teenagers experience uncontrollable rage.
Russia lost, then regained, contact with a satellite carrying five geckos sent to copulate in zero gravity.
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“I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.”