Barack Obama is a soft power president. But the world keeps asking him hard power questions.
From North Korea to Guantánamo Bay, from Iran to Afghanistan, Mr Obama is confronting a range of vexing issues that cannot be charmed out of existence.
The problem is epitomised by the US president’s trip to the Middle East this week. Its focal point will be a much-trailed speech in Cairo on Thursday June 4, in which he will directly address the Muslim world.
The Cairo speech is central to Mr Obama’s efforts to rebuild America’s global popularity and its ability to persuade – otherwise known as soft power. The president has been trying out potential themes for the speech on aides and advisers for months. He is likely to emphasise his respect for Islamic culture and history, and his personal links to the Muslim world. He will suggest to his audience that both the US and the Islamic world have, at times, misjudged and mistreated each other – and he will appeal for a new beginning.
Here is a commenter’s take:
“My concern over Obama’s ME trip, and his primary goal that they ‘adore’ him, is what will be lost in this pathological psychological agenda.
Obama is declaring that all unrest between the West and the Muslim states is due only to ‘misunderstanding’ between the two. That is, the problem is all in our respective minds.
He refuses to acknowledge that the differences are structural not phenomenological. The Muslim states are trapped within a tribal sociopolitical-economic structure that is hostile to democracy, capitalism, individual freedoms, human rights, etc. These states are repressing their people’s desire for more participation in their own political and economic life – and that has led to Islamic fascism.
Obama totally, completely, utterly – ignores this.
Instead, he – and they – are tripping over a red herring, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That is an entirely separate issue, and even if it were resolved, the tribal structure of the Arab and Persian states would remain, and Islamic fascism would remain.
I’ll point out, again, the Israel has no interest in a Palestinian state because it wants the West Bank for itself, and the Arab States have never been interested in a Palestinian state, both because it would be a democracy rather than tribal, and because most Arabs consider Palestinians to be among the lowest on the very rigid ME hierarchical scale of tribal elitism.
But I find it very disturbing that Obama is reducing the very real economic, political and societal structures of the ME – that are trapped within the 7th c – to irrelevance; and that he is saying that the only reason we ‘don’t get along’ is because we, heh, misunderstand each other. What nonsense. It’s the contradictory structures that are battling each other. Why does Obama refuse to recognize this and reduce it to the irrelevance of ‘how we think about each other’.”
…back to the article:
George W. Bush launched a military offensive in the Middle East. Mr Obama is launching a charm offensive…..read more HERE.