I’ve had several people ask me about the President’s speech in Cairo yesterday. Here are a few thoughts.
– I like the new methodology of this president. He recognizes that you can’t walk into every situation and say, ““We’re America, we know how to do everything.”
– President Obama understands that culture is important. He gets that you can’t walk into a foreign country and expect the audience to understand what you are doing and saying if you only do things in “American ways.”
– President Obama and his cabinet are proving that they are willing to listen and learn. Talk to anyone who isn’t American or do some traveling outside of North America and you’ll understand that this is important. Americans suffer from ethno-centricity… it is our greatest weakness as a people.
– President Obama understands that aggression without diplomacy just leads to more violence. President Bush never seemed to get that. Dick Cheney seems to think that the United States is modern day Rome. In a nuclear world you can’t maintain pax romana. Just like Rome fell because of its arrogance that it was too big to fall, Bush was leading us down the same road.
– President Obama understands that we living in a pluralistic society. Conversely, his approaches seek to work within pluralism as opposed to trying to fight it. Bush is an extremely intelligent man. But he let his personal ideology leads us array.
– President Obama doesn’t see the war on terror as a holy war between Muslims and Christians. Just like the Koran talks of world domination by Muslims the Bible speaks of the same for Christians. Read Revelation from a Muslim perspective, can you see why they might think we intend to steal their land? By changing the language from religion to justice or other issues… I like our chances better.
– President Obama is using his Islamic background as a diplomatic advantage for our nation. When he quoted the Koran and pronounced words correctly in this speech, this is a very good thing. It shows respect for Muslim culture. I can imagine this got the hard core Republicans panties in a bind… as if Bush never quoted the Koran! He would have used Arabic words if he could have pronounced them!
– Acknowledging the United States was wrong to torture people is good diplomacy. Just look at the ill-will the Vatican fostered by not acknowledging their role in the Holocaust for so long. The first step towards recovery must now be backed up with “living I’m sorry.” Bush/Cheney still think torturing people was right.
– President Obama’s approach is akin to good missions work. You cannot go into diplomatic situations with an attitude of “I’m smart, let me lead you to the right answer.” You have to meet people half way and ask them to give up some of their presuppositions and prejudices as well to meet you half way. Bush would have seen this as an act of cowardice when in the rest of the world sees it as an act of courage.
– President Obama acknowledges the fact that you can be the world’s sole superpower with enough nuclear and financial power to destroy the planet 10 times over. But that doesn’t equal peace. In order to stop the war on terror you have to be a part of fixing the problems that caused it in the first place. Bush/Cheney used a might = right methodology that just didn’t work.
There are many signs that the new administration is doing a lot to better our place in the world’s opinion. I know Americans don’t believe this… but people really don’t see us as having the moral legs to stand on to call ourselves the world’s superpower. We see ourselves as something we are not in the world. While Obama’s methods make conservative Christians cringe… they need to put down their Obama-hating lenses long enough to see that he really is doing some incredible things.
It bears reminding conservative Obama-haters that John F. Kennedy was not liked by hard core conservatives during his presidency. Of course, looking back we now see a President most would agree did tremendous things for human rights and the advancement of America as a world power.