Global Trends by Martin Khor
Monday 8 June 2009
to follow Obama’s
Last week’s landmark
speech by US President Barrack Obama in
It was a landmark and historic speech that United States President Barrack Obama made at the University of Cairo last week.
Perhaps this is what we had anyway expected from the now famous orator in Obama, as he reached out to the Muslim world.
In his wide ranging speech, he attempted to heal the wounds inflicted by the United States in the past, in particular by the eight years of the Bush administration, that seemed to wage war on Islam whilst pursuing the “war on terror”, and that had sided so blatantly with Israel as it bombed the Palestinians as well as the Lebanese.
If words alone could do the job, Obama’s speech was near perfect. But, alas, the words delivered in his trademark cool and intellectual style, are not enough.
They have raised
expectations that the
Thus, the reactions to Obama’s speech ranged from the ecstatic to the skeptical. History will judge its value not only by the choice of words and the eloquence of delivery but by the harsher standards of follow up action.
For the time being, however, the speech has done a great job of revisiting the past and starting the rebuilding of trust, which seemed to have been cracked by the recent theory and practice of the “clash of civilization.”
Obama acknowledged the great contributions of the Muslim world to science and the arts, criticised the stereotyping of Muslims and called Islam a religion of peace.
He described the
situation of the Palestinians as “intolerable”, recognized the legitimate
Palestinian aspiration for a state of their own and called on
But, perhaps to
be expected, he assured
had plotted the
overthrow of the democratically elected government of
But even as his
speech gave many in the developing world a lot of what it wanted to
hear from a
He called on the
world to reject the stereotyping of the
It will take more
than a speech to show that the imperialistic ambitions and practices
Thus, the developing
world will be watching whether there will be a real follow-up in terms
In the economic area, how and whether the US will act in assisting developing countries overcome the global financial crisis that it created, and in taking a lead to build a new global financial order, will be most telling. So far the Obama administration shows little sign it is stepping up to these tasks.
When Obama said
in his speech that the
The need to prevent
expansion, including for “natural growth”, will be the first test of
wills between the Obama administration and the Israeli government.
If Obama does not pass this test, then his beautiful words in
Obama slapped the
But while he called
on Palestinians to denounce violence, he omitted mentioning
From press reports,
there have been many praises from around the world, including from Muslim-majority
countries, for Obama’s speech to re-build bridges. And there have also
been skeptical comments that this was only public-relations sweet talk
to hide the continuation of
There is justification for both the positive and negative reactions. President Obama has made an important speech that could prove be a new beginning, and he now has to follow up to prove that it is indeed a new beginning.