Despite being hosted by an authoritarian regime that practices torture and crushes dissent, the words delivered in Cairo by the master orator were at times thoughtful, wise, empathetic, measured and hopefully game changing.
Obama’s speech was clearly a reversal of the previous administration’s crusader mentality. Obama greeted the audience in Arabic, outlined the bountiful scientific and cultural contributions of Islamic civilization, and noted that “Islam has always been a part of the American story.” In short, he proposed to “seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based on mutual interest and mutual respect.”
Moreover, no president has ever publicly admitted to the U.S. role in the 1953 overthrow of Mohammed Mosaddeq, the democratically elected prime minister of Iran. And no recent president has spoken so firmly on the need for Israel to acknowledge the right of Palestine “to exist”, even going so far as to say that “the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable.” And he even recognized Iran’s right “to access peaceful nuclear power.”
This is all worthy of approbation, of course, but there were other moments where Obama continued to speak with the blind hypocrisy of the American exceptionalist…
For example, Obama pledged to “ruthlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our national security. Because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women and children.”
Coming from the man who protects the violent extremists in the previous administration from accountability, and who has himself ordered drone attacks on Afghan villages that predictably kill innocent men, women and children, these word are hypocrisy pure and simple.
The hypocrisy of deploring the “violent extremists” who have “killed in many countries” and who have “killed people of different faiths” and whose “actions are irreconcilable with the rights of human beings” is too obvious to require elucidation. Without a hint of irony, Obama said that he supports “transparent government” and that “violence is a dead end” and that “it is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children”.
Obama said that “we do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan” and that “we seek no military bases there”. And yet he is sending an additional 17,000 troops there, not including the 68,197 private mercenaries under Department of Defense contracts, and is building gargantuan “embassies” in Kabul and Islamabad.
Obama said that “we would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can.”
To translate: “We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home just as soon as hell freezes over.”
Obama got applause when he reiterated his pledge to close the prison at Guantanamo (where detainees are still being tortured and are commiting suicide in dispair), but that action is irrelevant since “unlawful combatants” are now simply shipped to the extrajudicial prison in Bagram.