Well, here he was.
Massive hype, of course, an event touted as a game-changer for American/Arab relations and something that a lot of people were eagerly expecting.
Even before the event, certain facts were being highlighted within the region –
Unlike most, if not all, US Presidents of the last few decades, Obama would not be visiting Israel and would not be driven straight from the airport to the Holocaust Museum.
Obama would make his speech from Cairo, not from any of the other Middle-Eastern U.S. Buddy Nations of Arabia. This, in itself, is seen to augment Egypt’s arguably waning influence within the region.
And so he comes, with a security details of around, apparently, 3,000 Americans – most of whom entered the country with no visa or who were given rushed, no-questions-asked visa’s in the airport as they landed, putting in a more embarrassing light the humiliation and contempt with which the average Egyptian has to contend with if he desires to travel to the US, or for that matter, most other ‘Western’ countries in the 1st Century PWTC (Post World Trade Center).
Egypt, of course – painted any roads that Obama would drive or fly anywhere near. Traffic was restrained, and people pretty much stuck to their homes. Obama’s trip through Cairo would be pretty and unencumbered by the usually troublesome Cairo traffic.
So he’s at Cairo University, and he speaks. He tries the Arabic but keeps stumbling on the name ‘Azhar’. Still, he’s trying – so we listen.
The speech is very well written, rhetorically speaking – it’s quite well designed. A bit cliché-ridden here and there, the usual forms and patterns, but with a generous serving of credit to Moslems and to Islam. In any case –
These are my issues:
Obama not only regurgitates the standard Holocaust accounts of 6 million Jews killed (never mind that we’re ignoring the other non-Jewish 12 million people killed during the war) – but states that these are undeniable facts which nobody can dispute. With this he ignores the very real dispute put forward by historians like Roger Garaudy, and others. In short – that Jews were killed, but that many other races and/or groups were killed, and that it’s highly unlikely that the figure is anywhere near 6 million. Not only does the Obama regurgitate all of these (yes) disputed numbers, but you must remember that he does so while speaking to a people who were in no way at all responsible for a single one of those murders, and who despite this, have suffered from the event for the last 60 years at least, and are still suffering from it today.
In an attempt at ‘balance’ – the Obama uses the word ‘Occupation’ when referring to the Israeli aggression on Palestinians and yet by insisting that the Palestinians must renounce violence he is basically attempting to strip them of one of their basic human rights. In order to mask this, he mentions the agonizing example of school buses being targeted by Palestinian rockets – ignoring the fact that the Palestinian rockets are home-made pieces of flying debris and that thousands of them raining on Israel would amount, in effect to a nasty day-full of hail-stones. Ignoring the fact that a single Israeli helicopter or F16 can and does (routinely) inflict far more damage to the Palestinians.
The attempt at balance is shameful, and a simple scenario should clarify why it’s a false platform:
I steal $100 from you. A 3rd party walks in, hoping to arbitrate. You say it’s your $100, I say it’s my $100. In an effort at ‘fairness’ – the 3rd party offers to split and to give each of us $50.
Balanced? Only if you have the attention span of a goldfish.
Obama mentions that the settlements must ‘stop’. Stop? Stop to me, sounds like a gate through which what the Israelis call ‘natural growth’ will pass through unharmed. If, as Obama seems to admit, he knows they are illegal – then why is he not using the much more appropriate verb ‘dismantle’?
Obama throws around references to nuclear arms in the region – incredibly – and oh, the audacity – he is not talking about Israel. Israel has an estimated 200-300 nuclear bombs, and has never demonstrated anything resembling a desire for peace, and yet – the Obama is talking about IRAN.
He claims a desire for a nuclear free world, while he sits on around 20 or 30 thousand nuclear weapons and represents the only country in the world to have used them twice.
A word on that. First of all, the regular apologetics claim that the U.S. saved lives by nuking Hiroshima and Nagazaki is fallacious – it ignores the documented facts – that Japan was trying to surrender anyway. There is also the matter of why the U.S. felt the need to use TWO bombs – and for those still looking for an explanation – here’s a simple clue – they had two types of bombs.
Obama tells us that he’s shutting down Guantanamo – and the people applaud. Unaware perhaps that as Obama was saying this, a 31-year-old Yemeni detainee at Guantanamo who had been imprisoned since 2001 was killing himself. He had been on a hunger-strike, and was thereafter held in a psychiatric ward where he was force-fed in a restraint chair and most likely held sedated.
These same people are also most likely unaware that in fact, most American ‘detainees’ are not held in Guantanamo at all, but around the world in what can only be described as torture-franchise stations in various third world countries around the world.
Naomi Klein, author of No Logo, The Shock Doctrine, and other works – said that “Obama is making us stupid.” – and in an single attention seeking moment, one of the actors present at the Cairo speech shouted ‘We Love You Obama!’ – during the speech. Obama, dutifully, thanked him, and continued.
Obama went on to claim that the ‘war’ (read ‘invasion’) with (read ‘of’) Afghanistan was forced on the U.S. by the attacks of 9/11 (which, it should be mentioned he mentioned at least 3 or 4 times during the speech) – ignoring completely the well-reported (do your homework if you don’t remember this) fact that the Taliban explicitly made an offer to surrender any of those proven to be responsible (including Osama Bin Laden) to a neutral country for trial if any evidence was presented. Ignoring the fact that 6 months before the invasion of Afghanistan the Afghanis were threatened with just that – an invasion – if they did not submit to the pipe-line demands of Haliburton, etc.
And so it goes.
America Marches On.
Ironically, it is the people on the street who see through the lies. The cab drivers of Egypt, the doormen, the plumbers and the carpenters – all of those seem to understand innately – that the Obama is all talk – all of those are skeptical of mere words, and are in wait of any real action, any substance to the smoke and mirrors.
It is the educated of the Middle-East, the ones with degrees, the ones who’ve invested in Americana – who are most eager to believe him, who are most eager to wash themselves aglow with his apparent sincerity – with his apparent good intentions – with his apparent respect for Islam.
We need much more.