Obama sets out an approach to the Middle East

Once again Obama is wasting no time in addressing key issues required to signal change from the last administration at least. In an interview aimed at Arab nations he outlines his approach
There certainly is a welcome difference because the intention to use diplomacy as a tool is highlighted. However I don’t know how convincing he is in putting over his impartiality, particularly vis-a-vis peace between Israel and Palestine. As I’ve prveiously noted Obama’s speech to AIPAC suggested either a pro-Israeli mind set or an ignorance of the existing peace plan. His statement that Jerusalem could not be divided went against that, and is something that George W. Bush would not say. He was forced to retract quite hurriedly. He also continues to talk about Iran’s nuclear ambitions destabilising the region but ignores Israel’s nuclear capacity.
On the plus side Obama states his intention to talk and listen and refers to his own experience of living in Muslim countries and to members of his own family who are Muslim. This may or may not have some effect: already his image has been torn and the deeply offensive term “house-negro” applied. The United States has a distance to travel before it shed the reputation for war mongering and colonial-style foreign policy. The beginnings heralded for withdrawal from Iraq and the closure of Guantanamo Bay are indications to welcome. What is continuing to happen in Afghanistan and Pakistan point in a different direction. Obama is in danger of being seen as being run by the U.S. (hence the comment above) rather than achieving the change he says he wants.

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