This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

From There To Here : Obama and the Muslim World

"[I am] proud to carry the goodwill of the American people, and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country: al-salamu alaykum."
"We meet at a time of tension between the United States and Muslims around the world – tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of co-existence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars." "Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims. The attacks of September 11th, 2001 and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights."
"So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end."
President Barack Obama
"I recognize that change cannot happen overnight. No single speech can eradicate years of mistrust, nor can I answer in the time that I have all the complex questions that brought us to this point. But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly the things we hold in our hearts, and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground."
"I consider it part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear. But that same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of America. Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire."
"I know there are many - Muslim and non Muslim - who question whether we can forge this new beginning. Some are eager to stoke the flames of division, and to stand in the way of progress. Some suggest that it isn't worth the effort - that we are fated to disagree, and civilizations are doomed to clash."
"There is so much fear, so much mistrust. But if we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move forward."
U.S. President Barack Obama, Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt, June 2009

Moving forward, we find ourselves in January of 2017. So, has the promise of a new era dawning come to fruition, validating the Nobel Peace Prize? This son of a Muslim father and a mid-western American mother, who spent his formative years with his mother and a Muslim stepfather in Indonesia where he was exposed to a way of life in Islam first-hand, felt his paternity and his childhood experience would gain him priceless credibility in the Muslim world. The Muslim world was skeptical, and reserved its applause in favour of sitting back and waiting.

Barack Obama was not particularly interested in Islam in the most populous Islamic country on the globe where he grew up before moving to Hawaii, nor in the Islam that lived in India or Pakistan or Bangladesh, though the United States had a more muted interest and presence there. A more visible one by far in Afghanistan where the United States was fully embroiled in a thread that led back to the Middle East through Osama bin Laden's privileged Saudi background and stunning coup in helping to plan the spectacularly successful mass deaths of 9/11.

Under this president, despite his avowed intentions, Guantanamo was not closed emptied of its Islamist detainees and closed down, and withdrawal from Afghanistan did not solve the problem of the Taliban, joined at a later date by Islamic State to jostle the on-the-ground al-Qaeda presence. This president increased drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan, doing little to endear himself to fundamentalist Islam practised there. And he orchestrated withdrawal of American troops from Iraq in the conflict that murderously pitted Islam against itself with Sunni and Shiite Iraqis happy to slaughter one another; the constraint of Saddam Hussein previously removed.

And then under President Obama his purpose of "leading from behind" grew apace as the Arab Spring blossomed, then withered. Promising his new era of renewal and removal of the U.S. irritant lodged in Islam's jaundiced eye, the time was ripe for the appearance of a new Islamic threat that would eclipse earlier ones and Islamic State and its vast caliphate established on the back of its terrifying atrocities opened a new era, but not the one Mr. Obama envisioned. The absence of the United States led to side effects and consequences and ISIL was one of them.

Another price was American non-interference in the Syrian civil war to persuade the Islamic Republic of Iran to sign a nuclear deal that would advantage it at a later date in its nuclear weapons aspirations, and the result of that was the deaths of a half million Syrians, while Syria's neighbours in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan and Egypt took in the hordes of Syrian civilians fleeing their regime's barrel bombs. Iran satisfactorily attained the leverage it longed for in its Shiite crescent as Syria became a client state along with Iraq and Lebanon.

And the vacuum of America's exit invited Moscow and Vladimir Putin to choreograph a rescue of the Syrian regime, hard put to maintain itself despite Iran's proxy Hezbollah militias fighting with Bashar al-Assad under the concerted defiance of the Syrian rebels, abetted by foreign terrorists who from time to time attacked the rebels to establish their own unadulterated Sunni base in Syria. No one in their sane minds could view Europe as a beneficiary of a prospectively invigorating new addition to their resident populations in the process of which thousands of migrants and refugees drowned attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.

This, then, is Mr. Obama's Middle East legacy, his triumph in establishing a new relationship between the United States and the Middle East. Where no longer could Muslim states take umbrage at their natural resources holding them prisoner to American energy needs. Dethroned by a man of rude and profane expression who will brook no nonsense and sturdily set about his own agenda, beginning with destroying any last vestige of a legacy other than that of the Middle East, Mr. Obama is now free to make himself even wealthier than he is on leaving office.

It has been estimated in the New York Times that Mr. Obama and his wife Michelle have the earning potential of raking in anywhere from $20 million to $45 million annually between them by engaging in book writing of their experiences to entertain the reading public curious about how history will be portrayed from the Obama perspective, and setting out on the speaking circuit where they can command princely speaking fees to further entertain the public on the details of their presidential exploits. It is said that an ex-president of the United States can readily command $250,000 and more for a single speech.

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