Barack Obama gave his most significant address on the Middle East since his 2009 Cairo speech on Thursday. Emphasizing values over the strategic interests of the United States, the President expressed his support for all the Arab Spring movements and their cause of liberty and democracy. He also laid out in concrete terms what U.S. policy will be towards each of the crisis areas of the Middle East. The speech strongly condemned not only Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, but also Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the government of Bahrain. Obama’s most ambitious new policy proposal was a concrete plan for the Arab-Israeli peace process: a demilitarized but sovereign Palestinian state based on 1967 borders.
The full text of President Obama’s speech is below, with the most crucial and relevant sections bolded. We welcome your comments on the speech.
We seem again to be learning the wrong lessons of the significance of the Middle East upheavals. Last Thursday, the Washington Post had a editorial entitled “Last on Libya,” which wrongly criticized President Obama for what they characterized as “President Obama’s response to a dictator’s atrocities.”
The fact is that any president has to weigh not only long term but also short term impacts of what he says as well as its costs. I personally would have desired a stronger response to the actions of Gaddafi, but as a former diplomat, I also know that he had to balance the safety of American citizens and embassy personnel still in Libya with how best to respond to fast moving events. Continue reading
An article on CNN.com discusses the unrest throughout the Middle East country by country, as well as discussing the roots of the unrest. The areas of Libya, Iran, Tunisia, Oman, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Iraq, Mauritania, Jordan, Algeria, Djibouti, Kuwait, Sudan, Syran, Morocco and the Palestinian territories are mentioned in the article; it gives an overview of countries that have experienced intense protests as well as those countries where unrest is stirring.