[Washington Babylon ]Obama’s Speech, Pro and Con | Harper's Magazine

Sign in to access Harper’s Magazine

Need to create a login? Want to change your email address or password? Forgot your password?

  1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
  2. Select Email/Password Information.
  3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.

Locked out of your account? Get help here.

Subscribers can find additional help here.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!

Get Access to Print and Digital for $23.99.
Subscribe for Full Access
Get Access to Print and Digital for $23.99.
[Washington Babylon]

Obama’s Speech, Pro and Con


The pro comes from M. J. Rosenberg:

Mission accomplished. For the first time in memory, an American President spoke to Muslims and Arabs not as antagonists who need to take certain actions before achieving U.S. acceptance but as equals. Not only did the speech specifically reject western (and American) colonialism, its entire tone was the antithesis of colonial. This is a profoundly different American voice, one that will do much to advance American goals rather than to sabotage them.

Arab leaders who were listening to this speech might want to consider a similar speech of their own to their people. That is not going to happen. But they have to realize that this speech will significantly raise expectations among their own people. This is the kind of speech they have never heard before, and they will expect more of it. But from their own potentates next time.

The con comes from the Angry Arab, the always interesting As’ad AbuKhalil. He’s only posted a few comments thus far, among them:

What can you say about Obama? It will–and should–be remembered that he praised the “wisdom” of the Saudi King. What is next? Will he praise the public beheadings in the kingdom as example of ideal justice?

The brave Egyptian journalist, Abdul-Halim Qandil, the coordinator of Kifayah movement in Egypt, rejected his invitation (by Mubarak’s palace) to attend Obama’s speech. He said that he won’t be a “false witness.”

Keep checking back at his site though, as he’ll surely have more to say.

For my own take on American policy in the Middle East and Islamic political movements, here’s the link to a 2006 story in the magazine, “Parties of God.”

More from