About This Blog
The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of co-existence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations.
Addressing seemingly intractable problems requires honesty. Facts and truth must not be avoided for the sake of national pride or revisionistic history. The West, as well as Islam, cannot move forward peacefully without recognition of historic truth. Obama boldly addressed historic truth. Finding common ground requires honesty.
But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly the things we hold in our hearts, and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground.
Stereotyping of either side is dishonest...
I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.
Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire. The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known.
The dream of opportunity for all people has not come true for everyone in America, but its promise exists for all who come to our shores........So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America.
Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail.
There is no room in Obama's thinking for blind American exceptionalistic dogma. Just as al-Qaeda's extremist doctrines, which elevate Islam to uniquely superior world status, is incongruous with peaceful coexistence......so too, American exceptionalistic doctrines.
Obama addresses 9-11...
In Ankara, I made clear that America is not – and never will be – at war with Islam. We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security.
We did not go by choice (to Afghanistan), we went because of necessity. I am aware that some question or justify the events of 9/11. But let us be clear: al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day.....These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with.
Make no mistake: we do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We seek no military bases there.
Driving a wedge between Islam and the radical version of Islam represented by Bin Laden....
They have killed people of different faiths – more than any other, they have killed Muslims. Their actions are irreconcilable with the rights of human beings, the progress of nations, and with Islam. The Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind; and whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind.
President Obama struck at the heart of the Islamic extremist problem. Bim Laden's theology is not the theology of Islam, it is a perversion, an aberration. Using the essence of the Koran as evidence, Obama stripped away the faux-justifications relied upon by Bin Laden to justify his barbaric violence.
Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world......America has a dual responsibility: to help Iraq forge a better future – and to leave Iraq to Iraqis. I have made it clear to the Iraqi people that we pursue no bases, and no claim on their territory or resources. Iraq's sovereignty is its own.
Some American neo-conservatives still insist that Iraq was not a war of choice, but instead, a war of necessity. Obama, rightfully, dismissed this neo-conservative dishonesty out of hand, while assuring Iraqis and Muslims that goals of American imperialism in Iraq are out of the question.
9/11 was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change course. I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year.
Even though I disagree with the reasons Obama gave for the previous administration's torture regime ("fear and anger")....especially in light of the evidence that torture was conducted in order to extract false confessions later to be used to lead America into a "war of choice",......Obama's clear denunciation of Gitmo and torture drew applause from his Muslim audience, and rightfully so.
I will continue tomorrow with Part 2.
Without any qualification....President Obama's Cairo speech should make all Americans proud. Obama was brilliant.