James Forsyth

Obama shouldn’t let his speech to the ‘Muslim world’ be as much of a missed opportunity as his speech to Europe was

Obama shouldn't let his speech to the 'Muslim world' be as much of a missed opportunity as his speech to Europe was
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Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo next month is being hyped as a major part of his administration’s outreach to the ‘Muslim world’. One can only hope that it is a better, more realistic speech than the one Obama gave in Berlin last July setting out how trans-Atlantic relations could be improved. In that speech, Obama missed a huge opportunity to tell the Europeans that even he—a candidate who was favoured by European elites and publics by huge margins—thought they were shirking their responsibilities in Afghanistan. He should have made clear that America listening more would not by itself solve anywhere near all of the problems in the alliance.

In the same way, it would be disappointing if the Cairo speech did not make clear that the single biggest impediment to progress in the ‘Muslim world’, and I know that phrase obscures almost as much as it reveals, is a lack of freedom for its peoples and accountability for its rulers. To devote more of the speech to the Israel / Palestine issue, important thought that it is, than this fact would be to dance to the tune that the autocrats of the region have been playing for too long, at great cost to us all.

PS I’ve been remiss in not mentioning this before, but Conservative Cabbie—a frequent and incisive commenter here—now has his own blog. It is well worth a look. 

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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