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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
Acres of hemp grown by “patriotic‚” U.S. farmers in 1942 at the behest of the U.S. government:
A study suggested that the health effects of exposure to nuclear radiation at Chernobyl were no worse than ill health resulting from smoking and normal urban air pollution.
Greenpeace apologized after activists accidentally defaced the site of Peru’s 2,000-year-old Nazca Lines when they unfurled cloth letters reading “time for change” near the ancient sand drawings. “We fully understand,” the group wrote in a statement, “that this looks bad.”
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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.”