Obama on Israel and Palestine

Obama_cairoU.S. President Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo is worth watching and worth reading.  Perhaps the best place to do both is at The New York Times website, where you can search the transcripts by keyword and simultaneously watch/read the sections you want.

I have excerpted Obama’s words on Israel and Palestine below.  But first, a few key sentences:

…Six million Jews were killed – more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, ignorant, and hateful.

…it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people – Muslims and Christians – have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation.

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Building (good) government

Maria_Otero_fullThe Obama Administration has nominated a major microfinance leader to serve as U.S. Under Secretary of Global Affairs in the State Department.  It’s a great example of how to bring people into the U.S. foreign policy establishment who have a direct understanding of strategies for international poverty alleviation.

Read on for the full press release from Accion, the organization that is about to lose its CEO, Maria Otero

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Ask Condoleeza

condi_rice1The footage shows all the signs of a professor angry at a student for asking exactly the right questions.

Caught in an emotional moment, former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is on tape uttering such high-minded retorts as “do your homework first” and “maybe before you make allegations about Guantanamo, you should read.”

Skip to minute 3:30 to cut right to the fireworks:

The incident happened at a Stanford University dormitory reception last Monday. Stanford junior Jeremy Cohn decided to ask some tough questions about torture.  He didn’t realize he was being taped at the time.

Apparently, Al Qaeda is a bigger threat than Nazi Germany was.

Key Condoleeza quotes:

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The Al Qaeda two-step shuffle

Al Qaeda and the “war on terror” seem to be the ultimate linguistic props.  Now you see them, now you don’t.

First, the disappearance — the Washington Post reports in late March on the new name for the “war on terror”:

In a memo e-mailed this week to Pentagon staff members, the Defense Department’s office of security review noted that “this administration prefers to avoid using the term ‘Long War’ or ‘Global War on Terror’ [GWOT.] Please use ‘Overseas Contingency Operation.’ “

Then, the reappearance — President Obama speaking on Afghanistan at a NATO summit a week later:

“France recognises that having al-Qaeda operate safe havens that can be used to launch attacks is a threat not just to the United States but to Europe…  In fact it is probably more likely that al-Qaeda would be able to launch a serious terrorist attack in Europe than in the United States because of proximity.”

At least we are getting some variety.  Under the Bush Administration, it was all Al Qaeda, all the time.

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Obama’s holiday message to Iranians

U.S. President Barack Obama released the video greetings below to the Iranian government and people.

The Nowruz holiday greetings are a rare opportunity to hear an American leader praising the culture and accomplishments of Iranian society.  More than 50 years after the U.S. overthrew Iran’s democratically elected prime minister, this is a  hopeful sign that perhaps our two nations can find a path to better relations.

Whitehouse.gov links:  video, video with farsi subtitles, text of speech, or Farsi translation

McCain’s Simple Narrative

Last Wednesday, U.S. Senator John McCain gave a tough talk at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington D.C. think tank.

His topic was Afghanistan.   His message was that the U.S. is losing the war.

The situation in Afghanistan is nowhere near as dire as it was in Iraq just two years ago …  But the same truth that was apparent three years ago in Iraq is apparent today in Afghanistan: when you aren’t winning in this kind of war, you are losing. And, in Afghanistan today, we are not winning. Let us not shy from the truth, but let us not be paralyzed by it either.

Fine.  Let’s not be paralyzed.  But there is a way in which Sen. McCain managed to avoid discussing the same realities on the ground that everyone else seems to be avoiding.

Let’s just take one issue in particular:  there is no such thing as “the” Taliban.  It might make for easy reporting, but the notion of a single opposition force serves to obscure more than it reveals.

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Article: U.S. privately backs Pakistan’s deal with Taliban

Daily Telegraph (UK)

US privately backs Pakistan’s ‘Sharia law for peace’ deal with Taliban

American officials have privately backed Pakistan’s “Sharia law for peace” deal with Taliban militants in the Swat Valley despite publicly criticising it as a “negative development”.

By Dean Nelson, Javed Siddiq in Islamabad and Emal Khan in Peshawar
Last Updated: 7:25PM GMT 17 Feb 2009
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Full text: Obama’s interview with Al-Arabiya

Hisham Melhem’s interview with President Obama on Al Arabiya TV:

Tuesday, 27 January 2009
President gives first interview since taking office to Arab TV
AlArabiya.net

obama1_al-arabiya1

TRANSCRIPT

Q: Mr. President, thank you for this opportunity, we really appreciate it.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much. Continue reading

Video: Obama’s interview with Al-Arabiya

Hisham Melhem’s interview with President Obama on Al Arabiya TV:

Tuesday, 27 January 2009
President gives first interview since taking office to Arab TV
AlArabiya.net

Video part 1: 

Video part 2:

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