Foreshadowing the Egypt Speech
Foreshadowing the Egypt Speech
Tuesday, June 2,2009 11:12
By Jed

Scott Carpenter of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy published a new PolicyWatch which foreshadows President Obama’s upcoming speech in Egypt. The main focuses of Obama’s speech are well known, as Carpenter asserts: the administration’s approach to “the Muslim World”, his plan to address the Arab-Israeli conflict, and relations with Iran. Carpenter recounts Obama’s trajectory to the Egypt speech which has included a campaign promise, an interview on Al-Arabiya, and a speech to the Turkish parliament. In recent weeks, the administration has been engaged in behind the scenes diplomacy to create an environment conducive to their still to be announced policies.

Carpenter believes Obama will attempt to convince listeners that he is serious about solving the Arab-Israeli conflict in hopes of bolstering moderate states as well as moderate candidates in upcoming elections in Lebanon and Iran. According to Carpenter, Obama chose Egypt because of their record of support for Israel and cooperation with the west, however, of critical importance is the fact that most Egyptians still live on less than a dollar a day and suffer from a paucity of democratic institutions. Carpenter dismisses Egypt’s recent actions as only tokens to the administration writing that “the regime continues its ongoing crackdown on students, bloggers, journalists, and political activists of all stripes”. As such, Carpenter calls on Obama to challenge Middle East autocracies to support the political rights of their people. He also recommends that Obama drop the phrase “Muslim world” and speak instead to the Arab people as citizens of their respective nations, as this phrase only perpetuates the unhelpful paradigm advanced by some Islamist groups who embrace violence.

According to Carpenter, it will be difficult for the President to meet such high expectations at home and abroad. He should ultimately be cautious of allowing his speech to be interpreted as a return to a period of U.S. foreign policy that sacrificed democracy for security. “By seeking peace at the expense of democracy and long-term stability, the president risks achieving none of these regional objectives”, writes Carpenter.

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