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President Obama debuts ‘global populism’

Posted by italco on June 7, 2009

President Obama spoke with French President Nicolas Sarkozy (second l.) Saturday at the Colleville-sur-Mer cemetery before a ceremony to mark the 65th anniversary of D-Day.

The American president took his case straight to the people on his trip this week, spending limited time with the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Germany, and France. The American president started with a nuanced bid for US-Muslim understanding and Mideast peace at the storied Cairo University – and ended in front of a soaring statue at the American cemetery at Omaha beach in Normandy titled, “The Spirit of American Youth, Rising from the Waves.”

The trip, unusual in its limited time with state leaders in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Germany, and France – was a sweeping bid for the possibility of progress in long-intractable conflicts and standoffs, and a recasting of America’s role in that effort. It was an appeal to reason, history, values, remembrance, and common aspirations of humanity, in a populist fashion rarely seen on the world stage, say diplomats and specialists.

“What we are seeing is not spin, but a sincere effort to reach out to hearts and minds, appealing to better instincts, to the reasonable nature of others. It is a revolutionary approach,” says Charles Kupchan of the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington.

Mr. Kuchan argues that Obama’s popularity allows him to try and create a new dynamic: “Obama is doing this because he can. But also because he believes that in an age of polarization and economic distress, this will work.

“If there is a deal with Iran,” Kupchan continues, “it won’t be because of back-room negotiations with Ahmadinejad, but because of an appeal to the broader Iranian polity that will build support for a new relationship with the US. His key interlocutors are not his counterparts, but people in Egypt and the Middle East.

“I’ve never seen anything like this on the Middle East,” says a former senior US diplomat who was responsible for Europe and the Mideast. “He’s [Obama] started something for Muslims, Israel, Europe, and the US, and it is something that can grow. He’s legitimizing a new discussion, saying other ways of thinking are possible, that if you change the psychology the policy will follow.

In a further challenge to Holocaust doubters, including Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president suggested a visit to the camp would provide the “ultimate rebuke” to such views. With allied leaders including Fresh President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in attendance, along with veterans of the fateful invasion, the president continued his public appeal for a broader vision of humanity: “We live in a world of competing beliefs and claims about what is true,” Obama said. “In such a world, it is rare for a struggle to emerge that speaks to something universal about humanity. The Second World War did that.”

Spokesmen for the Lebanese militant group, Hizbullah, and Egypt’s banned Muslim Brotherhood offered skepticism, and Osama bin Laden’s No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, flatly opposed Obama and his policies in two audio recordings that coincided with the president’s trip.

But Essam Derbala, a leader of Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya who was imprisoned by Egypt amid the group’s insurrection in the 1990s, said the US president deserved a hearing. He told Reuters: “I call on the Taliban of Afghanistan and Pakistan and Al Qaeda to look at this solution and put the American side to a real test of the extent of its sincerity in achieving peace with the Muslim world.” http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0607/p06s01-wome.html

The spin on this doesn’t come from the camp of President Obama. It comes from Conservative extremist bloggers and media outlets like Fox who try to put a negative spin on anything President Obama does or attempts to accomplish.

I was watching Fox last night and saw Ann Coulter and a few others attempting to say that President Obama was snubbing the elite dignitaries in France and Germany. What they don’t understand is this trip was not about the leaders (which proper respect was given)…it was an appeal to the people. An appeal to hundreds of years of mindsets that had festered into hatred and mistrust. Believe it or not…they show President obama more respect than the American Conservative extremist do. My question to the conservative extremist is this, Did doing it your way work?

 

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7 Responses to “President Obama debuts ‘global populism’”

  1. I saw a statement on a blog that hit the nail on the head. Bush’s trip overseas was greeted with a shoe, whereas Obama’s was greeted with applause.

  2. jruthkelly said

    Seems to me that extremism is just another form of terrorism, another “right” brigade, “holy” war/crusade. I appreciate, thus far, that Obama seems to be more interested in bridging the gaps and bring humanity back into leadership. I agree with Auntiebjw, that one line says it all. Well said. I think if any group is making intelligent, concerned citizens feel hopeless, it’s the conservative extreme.

    • italco said

      How true a statement. I hold on to hope that the extreme mentalities become more centered. Balance is where we will all find peace.

  3. Auntiebjw said

    Did doing it your way work?

    Says it all!

    • italco said

      Thank you Auntie – nice to see you active. Truth be told…I am very hopeful to see this kind of open dialog in the Middle East. So long as we continue to dictate and forget to listen we just repeat the errors of the past. Extremism met with extremism will only result in distruction.

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