Politics

Cairo, take two: President Obama to deliver second major Middle East speech

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

The president will deliver a second major speech on the Middle East to reset his foreign policy following the changes that have swept through the region since his much-lauded June 2009 Cairo speech.

The contents of the planned Thursday speech are being closely held by administration officials, who only offer generalities, both off and on the record. “I’m sure that it will be a fairly sweeping and comprehensive speech about what we’ve all been privileged enough to witness since January,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said Friday. “I’m not going to say too much because I obviously want the president to have the field,” he added.

The timing of Obama’s address is puzzling, because turmoil in the Arab countries — dubbed “the Arab Spring” — may rapidly invalidate any speech, said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the president of the GOP-affiliated American Action Forum, a libertarian-minded think-tank. “We’re still in spring, we’re not even in summer — why do you really want to talk in the middle of that?”

The rapid pace of change was underlined Friday, when the president’s envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations resigned, citing personal reasons. The envoy, former Sen. George Mitchell, announced he was stepping down shortly before the president’s scheduled meeting with Israel’s visiting prime minister.

The president is the chief author of the policies and words that will go into the the speech, which is to be delivered at the U.S. Department of State, said administration officials.

He “has really been the central intellectual force in these decisions, in many cases, designing the approaches,” Thomas E. Donilon, the White House’s national security adviser, told the New York Times. The same article  reported that the president “often surfs the blogs of experts on Arab affairs or regional news sites to get a local flavor for events … [and] has sounded out prominent journalists like Fareed Zakaria of Time magazine and CNN and Thomas L. Friedman … [and] ordered staff members to study transitions in 50 to 60 countries.”

The president should use his official staff to gather needed information, said Holtz-Eakin, who served as director of the Congressional Budget Office from 2003 to 2005. “That’s why they’re there. [He should] ask them, and they’ll go find out,” he said.

Obama’s emphasis on his personal role creates political risks. For example, Obama overrode his advisers and pushed for the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in February, partly because he wanted to aid Westernized activists, including Google executive Wael Ghonim, the New York Times’ report said. But Ghonim has since been sidelined by the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood group, and has signed a contract to write a book.

The staff studies, according to the New York Times, concluded that a Syrian transfer of power may mimic Romania, where public protests prompted top officials to shoot the country’s dictator in 1989, and that Egypt’s developing revolution is best compared to revolutions in South Korea, the Philippines and Chile. However, Egypt’s history and culture has been deeply shaped by the imposition of Islam in 639, when jihadis swept aside the Christian rulers. In contrast, South Korea, the Philippines and Chile were effectively ruled by Western countries as their democratic institutions emerged.

  • libertyatstake

    “The president is the chief author of the policies and words…”

    And so the train wreck is ensured. Can’t wait. Plan to enthusiastically participate in the rubber necking.

    d(^_^)b
    http://libertyatstake.blogspot.com/
    “Because the Only Good Progressive is a Failed Progressive”

  • bozsbusiness

    I hope he gets to meet with the coptic christians and enthuse to them how happy he is that the Eguptians have “found democracy.” I’ll bet they won’t be willing to sing Goombayah with him in the town square.

  • HarryPtr123

    I made Obama the president. I did not make Hillary the president. I voted for Obama because I believed in his approach against “politicis of fear and war”. I made him the president so that he takes our country in that direction. Why is he listening to Hillary? Why is he Hillary’s yes man? Why isnt he refusing war as the option and advocating for diplomacy? What happened to all his promises of being against “policies of fear and war” … was that all just drama for our entertainment?

    Read more on something similar here:

    http://godinthejungle.com/index.php/the-story/375-friday-may-13-2011.html

    • jjsmithers

      Gee….Could it possibly be that talking to thugs does not work ? Could it be that the liberal theory of “Come, let us reason together” is just another failed liberal notion that has no chance of ever working with people who would just rather kill you than talk with you ?

      How is all of Obama’s talking working out so far ? How did all of Jimmy Carter’s talking work out ? Did he talk North Korea out of building a nuke yet ?

  • russ311

    “So, the Middle East is a couple hundred years behind…”

    Add a millennium. From when the Europeans stopped paying them any attention. Once we started to again with the discovery of oil there, their jihadist theocrats have redoubled efforts to terrorize everyone back into submission again.

    • russ311

      Damn it. Meant for loudog again.

    • russ311

      doh! And my math is bad too, now subtract half a millennium. Better?

    • spike1120

      this time around our lying POS WH tenant will be getting lots of left-hand shakes. Even the arabs understand how full of it this swine is.

  • Spring

    How so h are you going to feel when you can’t find a transcript of Obama ever making an apology? My guess is real bad, which can’t be helped when you find out you’ve been had by republican lies. Bush’s apology is the only one on record, Latin America, google it yourself.

  • lollytyg

    I guessing he’s now running for Caliph, ‘cuz 2012 is coming…

  • rone

    EVERY TIME OBAMA BLINKS HE IS LYING WHAT A GREAT PRESIDENT

    A GREAT AZZHOLE WHO LOVES BARNEYS FRANK

    • russ311

      Yuck. What a horrible image. Being purple is the first sign of putrification before turning completely blue, and rotting away from a Democratic dinosaur’s disease.

  • russ311

    Perhaps so, loudog, but remember what happened when they discovered how to distill spirits? Some a$$-hole named Muhammad came along to tell the Arabs how detrimental spirits can be to accomplishing the required prayers 5 times a day. And then, that a$$-hole and his disciples came up with other ways to restrict free will, for individuals to have a say in how they should live his/her own life for any purpose other than to serve Muhammed’s version of a supposed god’s wishes. And that has continued pretty much uninterrupted to this day, except where some can get away with secretly exercising their own personal desires, like Usama watching his p_o_r_n, for example. LMAO!

    We’ll see what develops. The Muslim Brotherhood isn’t exactly looking to us for much assistance in setting up a “democracy.” And our experiment in Iraq has a ways to go before we can see the benefits of our help in regard to Arabs adopting actual democratic rule. Afghanistan is doomed to continuous one step forward, two steps back, as always because of their disparate tribalism and neighbors.

    As I posted to you elsewhere this morning:

    Looks to me Egypt is about to democratically elect their very next dictatorial oligarchy into power, dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood.

    Big difference between Egypt and us? They do not have in place sufficient institutions of power to remove a dictatorship peacefully; they were fortunate we had some influence to restrain Mubarak, unlike in Syria. The Egyptians won’t be so lucky this next time.

    “One man, one vote” uprisings for Democracy, of and by itself, has historically been very messy without a proper grounding in the concepts of law to protect individual rights and a near flawless constitution to back it up. It has taken the First World several hundred years to try to get the democratic expression of free will right so far.

    Muslim’s political AND religious leaders are not very impressed by democratic principles it seems to me. They seem determinedly dismissive of the concept of free will. The concept of free will is what separates Islam from Judeo-Christian religions, and it is essential to democracy. Islam’s pervasive Theocratic dominance wherever it exists is what has kept the average Arab from opportunities of bettering his/her life. Islam must first have a reformation and become marginalized in society before the Muslim world will truly advance politically and culturally. Iraq has traditionally been very secular, which is why there remains a flicker of hope for them, but there is some in Iraq also trying to squeeze in Shariah there too. Anywhere Shariah is prominent, democracy is doomed.

    • russ311

      sorry, loudog and ojfl, thought I had hit the reply to loudog button…

    • loudog

      Sure, it took the West many hundreds of years to break out of our own religious chains and develop democratic ideals as well. So, the Middle East is a couple hundred years behind, hopefully their young people will catch up quickly with these new technologies and a good dose of progressiveness.

  • lvjohn

    This man is obsessed with the Muslim world , I wonder if hussein may be a closet muslim.

  • ojfl

    Can we do a recap on what was gained by the first one before we proceed with the second? Or will president Obama propose a fresh new approach to policies towards the Middle East?

    • russ311

      I suspect, this speech is planned to establish the long awaited, with bated breath by his sycophants and the MSM, the glorious words he will put forth that can finally be declared as “THE OBAMA DOCTRINE.” I can hardly wait, I feel faint with anticipation. Doesn’t it make you giddy with excitement too?