On Thursday the 4th of June, at the Islamic University of Al-Azhar in Cairo, Obama gave a speech of special interest to those of us who are closely following his political actions given the enormous might of the superpower he leads. I cite his very own words to indicate what I think are the basic ideas he expressed, thus summarizing his speech to save time. Not only do we have to know that he spoke but also what he said. “We meet at a time of great tension between the United Status and Muslims around the World…” “The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of coexistence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars. “.colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations.” “Violent extremists have exploited these tensions .” “.has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights..” “I’ve come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect .” “.they overlap, and share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.” “.but no single speech can eradicate years of mistrust, nor can I answer in the time that I have this afternoon all the complex questions that brought us to this point.
“As the Holy Quran tells us, “Be conscious of God and speak always the truth.”” “I’m a Christian, but my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims. As a boy, I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and at the fall of dusk. As a young man, I worked in Chicago communities where many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith..” “It was Islam – at places like Al-Azhar – that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment”. “.And since our founding, American Muslims have enriched the United States. They have fought in our wars, they have served in our government, they have stood for civil rights, .” “And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.” “.America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire.”
“The dream of opportunity for all people has not come true for everyone in America, .”
“Words alone cannot meet the needs of our people..” “When a new flu infects one human being, all are at risk.”
“When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon, the risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations.”
“.any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail.” “In Ankara, I made clear that America is not – and never will be – at war with Islam.” “.we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women and children.” “.there’s still some who would question or even justify the events of 9/11.”
“The victims were innocent men, women and children from America .”
“.Now, make no mistake: We do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We see no military – we seek no military bases there. It is agonizing for America to lose our young men and women. It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict. We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan, and now Pakistan, determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can.”
“The Holy Quran teaches that whoever kills an innocent is as – it is as if he has killed all mankind. And the Holy Quran also says whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind.”
“Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world.”
“.I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible.”
“Today, America has a dual responsibility: to help Iraq forge a better future – and to leave Iraq to Iraqis.
“I have made it clear to the Iraqi people – (applause) – I have made it clear to the Iraqi people that we pursue no bases, and no claim on their territory or resources.
“Iraq’s sovereignty is its own. And that’s why I ordered the removal of our combat brigades by next August.” “.remove combat troops from Iraqi cities by July, and to remove all of our troops from Iraq by 2012.” “Nine-eleven was an enormous trauma to our country.”
“.in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our traditions and our ideals.”
“I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year.” “.America will defend itself, respectful of the sovereignty of nations and the rule of law” “The second major source of tension that we need to discuss is the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world.”
“America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable.”
“On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people – Muslims and Christians – have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than 60 years they’ve endured the pain of dislocation.”
“Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead.”
“So let there be no doubt: The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. And America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity and a state of their own.” “.two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive.”
“It’s easy to point fingers – for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought about by Israel’s founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond.”
“.if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth.”
“The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and
security.” “. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights.” “Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, recognize Israel’s right to exist.” “.Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel’s right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine’s. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.”
“This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.”
“And Israel must also live up to its obligation to ensure that Palestinians can live and work and develop their society.”
“Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be a critical part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.” “The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems.”
“The third source of tension is our shared interest in the rights and responsibilities of nations on nuclear weapons.” “In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government.”
“Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians.”
“Rather than remain trapped in the past, I’ve made it clear to Iran’s leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward. The question now is not what Iran is against, but rather what future it wants to build.” “I recognize it will be hard to overcome decades of mistrust, but we will proceed with courage, rectitude and resolve. There will be many issues to discuss between our two countries, and we are willing to move forward without preconditions on the basis of mutual respect.” “I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No single nation should pick and choose which nation holds nuclear weapons.
And that’s why I strongly reaffirmed America’s commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons.” “.any nation – including Iran – should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.” In these three first topics of his speech we find the basic objective of his trip to that Islamic University of Egypt. One cannot blame the new president of the United States for the situation created in the Middle East. It is obvious that he wants to find an exit from the colossal mess created there by his predecessors and by the very development of events over the last 100 years.
Not even Obama could imagine when he was working in the black communities of Chicago that the terrible effects of a financial crisis would combine with the factors that made his election as president in a strongly racist society possible. He takes office at an exceptionally complex time for his country and the world.
He is trying to resolve problems that he perhaps considers to be simpler than they really are. Centuries of colonial and capitalist exploitation have given way to a world where a handful of overdeveloped rich countries coexist with another handful of immensely poor countries that provide raw materials and labor force. If you add China and India, two truly emerging nations, the struggle for natural resources and markets make up an entirely new situation on the planet where human survival itself has yet to be solved.