“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.”
So says the Holy Bible.
And if with the speech President Barack Obama has just given in Cairo, Egypt in an address to the Islamic world he is not seen as just that, a peace maker, well then no one could be seen as such.
He was extremely even handed in addressing the issues and extremely humble in admitting that the U.S. and the rest of the Western world has not always acted with good intentions or in the best interests of those in the Islamic world.
But at the same time he asserted in no uncertain terms that the U.S. would not back down from fighting extremists who threaten the U.S. and the whole world, to include their own Islamic world.
There is no doubt that Mr. Obama has a God given gift of speech. I actually think most American presidents going back over the years, at least as far back as Eisenhower, might have liked to have given just such a speech (maybe even George W. Bush would have – don’t know). But maybe the timing was not right and maybe they just did not have the abilities or the persona that Mr. Obama embodies.
As a black man (and half white in heritage), a Christian with Islamic roots and experience living in the Islamic world, even attending an Islamic school for a time, a community organizer on the mean streets Chicago’s black neighborhoods, a top Harvard Law graduate, and a masterful politician, the stars have just seem to come together for him.
Is he “The One”, the perfect person? Of course not. He is human and not everything he does can be correct – but all evidence so far is that he sure is trying.
Strangely, I imagine – have not heard a lot yet – that the biggest detractors of his speech will be both the far reactionary political right (Limburger/Cheney and company) and Islamic extremists. Neither side wants peace, well except if it is totally on their terms, but paradoxically peace cannot be obtained on either of the afore mentioned sides’ terms.
The president took a chance I think in asserting that we CHOSE to fight in Iraq and indicating we made a big mistake in doing so (even if that is correct). And the far right is certainly going to hate that he said not only that but that we will not maintain permanent military bases there or even in Afghanistan and that we are in fact on our way out of Iraq.
But the president also asserted that we (he) had a duty to defend the U.S. (and by extension the Western world) by fighting Islamic extremists in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
And his critics will (already are) howl about his call for a more even-handed approach in the 61-year-old dispute between the Palestinians and the Jews over the creation of Israel and the need for an independent Palestinian state (it seems to me that such should have been the U.S. position all along, but of course there is the Jewish lobby and all the money it throws the way of politicians, guilt feelings over the Holocaust, and the history of the Cold War when everything was seen as a competition between the West and the Soviets and so on).
I don’t think I heard all of President Obama’s speech, but I heard most of it and I will be interested to read more about it and catch up on parts I might have missed and that I might not agree with and I will be interested to see the reaction around the world, and of course particularly in the Middle East and Persian Gulf states and all of the Islamic world.
Interesting that President Obama quoted from the Holy scriptures of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism – all with similar messages of peace. If only the leaders who profess so strongly in these beliefs all practiced what they preach.