President Obama’s statement recognizing South Sudan Independence today – A momentous day that PBO played a major role in reaching.
Hope over fear!
I am proud to declare that the United States formally recognizes the Republic of South Sudan as a sovereign and independent state upon this day, July 9, 2011. After so much struggle by the people of South Sudan, the United States of America welcomes the birth of a new nation.
Today is a reminder that after the darkness of war, the light of a new dawn is possible. A proud flag flies over Juba and the map of the world has been redrawn. These symbols speak to the blood that has been spilled, the tears that have been shed, the ballots that have been cast, and the hopes that have been realized by so many millions of people. The eyes of the world are on the Republic of South Sudan. And we know that southern Sudanese have claimed their sovereignty, and shown that neither their dignity nor their dream of self-determination can be denied.
This historic achievement is a tribute, above all, to the generations of southern Sudanese who struggled for this day. It is also a tribute to the support that has been shown for Sudan and South Sudan by so many friends and partners around the world. Sudan’s African neighbors and the African Union played an essential part in making this day a reality. And along with our many international and civil society partners, the United States has been proud to play a leadership role across two Administrations. Many Americans have been deeply moved by the aspirations of the Sudanese people, and support for South Sudan extends across different races, regions, and political persuasions in the United States. I am confident that the bonds of friendship between South Sudan and the United States will only deepen in the years to come. As Southern Sudanese undertake the hard work of building their new country, the United States pledges our partnership as they seek the security, development and responsive governance that can fulfill their aspirations and respect their human rights.
As today also marks the creation of two new neighbors, South Sudan and Sudan, both peoples must recognize that they will be more secure and prosperous if they move beyond a bitter past and resolve differences peacefully. Lasting peace will only be realized if all sides fulfill their responsibilities. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement must be fully implemented, the status of Abyei must be resolved through negotiations, and violence and intimidation in Southern Kordofan, especially by the Government of Sudan, must end. The safety of all Sudanese, especially minorities, must be protected. Through courage and hard choices, this can be the beginning of a new chapter of greater peace and justice for all of the Sudanese people.
Decades ago, Martin Luther King reflected on the first moment of independence on the African continent in Ghana, saying, “I knew about all of the struggles, and all of the pain, and all of the agony that these people had gone through for this moment.” Today, we are moved by the story of struggle that led to this time of hope in South Sudan, and we think of those who didn’t live to see their dream realized. Now, the leaders and people of South Sudan have an opportunity to turn this moment of promise into lasting progress. The United States will continue to support the aspirations of all Sudanese. Together, we can ensure that today marks another step forward in Africa’s long journey toward opportunity, democracy and justice.
Few morning thoughts about that speech last night:
1. Dithering, shmithering. It took PBO 31 days to do what took Clinton and the world more than a year back in the ’90s. But hey, this is Barack Obama we’re talking about. Double standards is the standard.
2. Booman pointed that “He’s so good with words that his critics like to say that “he’s just words.” – which actually is the ultimate proof to how miserably most people fail to understand the greatness if this man. His speeches are some of the greatest in history, yet his actions are even greater. And that’s what really kills the haters. They just can’t catch him.
3. It’s obvious on the Right, but it’s more astounding when it comes to Left. The reason they’re simply against anything this man does is not because – as they disingenuously claim – he doesn’t keeps his promises. It’s because *he does*. It’s because they realize that either they never really listen to him during the campaign, or they did listen and were certain that once he’s in the WH, they will make him bend to them. And he just refuse to do so.
Maybe it’s just me, but I saw a real disdain on his face when he kicked some PL butts last night.
4. That noise you heard all night? That was Wingnuts heads explodes. He just buried the Bush-ism once and for all.
5. Who would have thought, 3 years ago, that the United Nations will be cool again?
6. Best tweet I’ve seen last night: “This is not the Nobel Pacifism Prize, it’s the Nobel PEACE Prize. Saving lives and taking down dictators is worth the prize”.
7. While I understand why the political team doesn’t want to over-expose him, I honestly believe that it’s a mistake not to send PBO out there much more often. Whenever he speaks directly to the people, they can suddenly see how smart he is and how much sense he makes. How sincere and human and full of goodness this man is. In each and every speech he expose his critics for what they really are, and I wish he would make more of these.
8. Finally, you guys are awesome. Really enjoyed the party here last night.
For a man who didn’t want to elevate U.S. actions in Libya to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq by delivering an Oval Office address, President Obama just delivered a speech worthy of the venue. Did it answer all of the questions asked by members of Congress on the right and the left, particularly the one about what victory would look like? Um, no. But Obama did state clearly why the United States stepped in to corral an international coalition and why it must relinquish its customary lead role.
Despite the close and elegant moral reasoning tempered by a steady pragmatism, the speech was full of genuine feeling, including empathy and outrage. It strikes me as among the better speeches President Obama has given since taking office.
Obama’s is a different version of American exceptionalism. For men like John Bolton, American virtue is a given. American presidents should never apologize because America never has anything to apologize for. Our mistakes are never crimes, and if others don’t see our moral greatness that just proves their moral cynicism.
Obama, by contrast, because he can see America through post-colonial eyes, knows this is a fable. He knows that in many places on earth, America has abetted dictatorship and corruption and slaughter. In some cases he has apologized, which has led men like Bolton to claim that he sees America as no different from any other great power.
But they don’t get it. For Obama, American exceptionalism is not a fact; it is a struggle. Bolton and company like to invoke World War II and the Cold War because in those conflicts we fought the evil that lay out there. Obama, by contrast, often invokes the civil-rights movement: a struggle against the evil within. That’s what makes his Libya decision powerful. He knows that there are good reasons for Middle Easterners to fear when they see American planes overhead. And yet he is acting to show that it does not have to be that way.
I don’t know how Obama’s Libya intervention will end; in his speech, he made it seem tidier than it really is. But the speech had something notably absent from his addresses on Afghanistan: the ring of authenticity. When he said that he refused to sit by and watch Benghazi be raped, he sounded like a man speaking from the gut. Obama does not romanticize the history of American power and yet he is wielding American power. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
It’s one of those twists of irony that the U.S.-backed no-fly zone over Libya has more support in the Arab world than in the U.S. Congress. I’m not sure if Obama’s eloquent defense of the American military mission in Libya during his address to the nation Monday night convinced a skeptical Congress of its value, but his speech certainly articulated an American role that many Arabs embrace.
President Obama is fewer than three weeks away from formally announcing his reelection campaign, and will make it public with an online video his aides will post on his new campaign website, Democratic sources familiar with the plans said.
Obama’s team will try to keep the exact date and time a surprise, letting supporters know first by text message and e-mail. By that point, Obama would have opened his campaign account with the Federal Election Commission.
But a major Democratic National Committee fundraiser is set for April 14 in Chicago, and Democratic donors are being told that it will coincide with the announcement. Obama will attend the event.
Sorry for the sporadic updates over the past couple of days – I’m dealing with some personal stuff – but I did go through many comments and I can’t tell you how proud I am of the level and manner of discussion you guys displayed, while talking about some really sensitive issues. I could not be more proud, and genuinely moved. Thanks.
Now, to the mishmash.
1. I hate wars as much as much as the next guy, but I waited a whole week for someone to explain – Better than I can – why I support this particular military operation in Libya. Nicholas Kristof is doing exactly that today:
This may be a first for the Arab world: An American airman who bailed out over Libya was rescued from his hiding place in a sheep pen by villagers who hugged him, served him juice and thanked him effusively for bombing their country.
Even though some villagers were hit by American shrapnel, one gamely told an Associated Press reporter that he bore no grudges. Then, on Wednesday in Benghazi, the major city in eastern Libya whose streets would almost certainly be running with blood now if it weren’t for the American-led military intervention, residents held a “thank you rally.” They wanted to express gratitude to coalition forces for helping save their lives.
This is also one of the few times in history when outside forces have intervened militarily to save the lives of citizens from their government. More commonly, we wring our hands for years as victims are massacred, and then, when it is too late, earnestly declare: “Never again”.
I opposed the 2003 Iraq invasion because my reporting convinced me that most Iraqis hated Saddam Hussein but didn’t want American forces intruding on their soil. This time my reporting persuades me that most Libyans welcome outside intervention.
“Opinion was unanimous,” Michel Gabaudan, the president of Refugees International, told me on Wednesday after a visit to Libya. Mr. Gabaudan said that every Libyan he spoke to agreed that the military strikes had averted “a major humanitarian disaster.”
“Men, women and children, they are ecstatic about the role of the coalition but worried that it may not continue,” he said.
The momentum has reversed. More airstrikes on Colonel Qaddafi’s artillery and armor will help. So would jamming his radio and television broadcasts. Arab countries are already delivering weapons and ammunition to the rebels, boosting their capabilities and morale. In short, there are risks ahead but also opportunities.
A senior White House official says that the humanitarian argument was decisive for President Obama: “The president was chilled by what would happen to the people of Benghazi and Tobruk. There were critical national security and national interest reasons to do this, but what compelled the president to act so quickly was the immediate prospect of mass atrocities against the people of Benghazi and the east. He was well aware of the risks of military action, but he also feared the costs of inaction.”
I’ve seen war up close, and I detest it. But there are things I’ve seen that are even worse — such as the systematic slaughter of civilians as the world turns a blind eye. Thank God that isn’t happening this time.
2. Those who wants to strip PBO of his Nobel Peace Prize are not really worth the attention, but they do give me an excuse to post his acceptance speech back in 2009. A man of consistency, if there ever was one:
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — First-time claims for unemployment benefits in the week ending March 19 fell 5,000 to 382,000, the Labor Department said Thursday, with the four-week moving average of 385,250 reaching the lowest level since July 2008. The claims were very close to the MarketWatch-compiled economist estimates of 380,000, and last week’s levels were revised higher by 2,000 to 387,000. Continuing claims in the week ending March 12 fell 2,000 to 3.72 million, the lowest level since Sept. 2008.
While I wipe the tears following the president’s marvelous statement, here’s a few thoughts:
1. Not even one anti-American sentiment during the celebrations. Tell me that this is not president Obama’s doing.
2. Look who brought Democracy to a Middle East country without firing even one bullet, without killing innocent citizens, without sacrificing young Americans lives.
3. Dear pundits, don’t you get it? You will NEVER be able to beat this man. All of your brain cells combined can’t match his. Really, stop it. It’s embarrassing.
4. How poetic it is that the history in Egypt totally killed the GOP lunatic convention?
5. To James Rubin, to the Wingnuts, the PUMAs, the PL and the rest of the bitters, here’s the *exact* quotes from president Obama’s speech in Cairo, and the full video. Watch it again, I doubt you’ll ever see such greatness in your lifetime again.
…I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: No system of government can or should be imposed by one nation by any other.
That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. These are not just American ideas; they are human rights. And that is why we will support them everywhere. (Applause.)
Now, there is no straight line to realize this promise. But this much is clear: Governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments — provided they govern with respect for all their people.This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they’re out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. (Applause.)
So no matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who would hold power: You must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.
It’s sad that most of the best articles comes from outside of America’s MSM. Here’s Simon Tisdall of The Guardian: (It’s from this morning, BEFORE Mubarak stepped down):
Hosni Mubarak has still not grasped how fundamentally the old political order is changing in Egypt and the Arab world – but it seems Barack Obama has.
In a forceful statement after the Egyptian president’s latest exercise in reality denial, Obama came off the fence following a fortnight of humming and hawing. If the choice is revolution or repression, democratic ideals and values or hard-nosed self-interest, then the US is officially on the side of the angels.
This dramatic shift could in time have a bigger impact on the Middle East than the Egyptian uprising. In sharply criticising the Cairo government’s prevarications, demanding it respect universal values, and stressing that his administration stands shoulder to shoulder with the demonstrators in Tahrir Square, the US president dramatically changed the way his country does business in the region. This was, to all intents and purposes, the proclamation of an Obama doctrine.
This is a direct challenge not just to Mubarak and his old guard but to the legitimacy of the previously untouchable, US-allied autocrats of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the Gulf. Universal values are universal after all. So what goes in Egypt will logically go, too, in Algeria, Jordan and Yemen, to name just three countries where America has largely turned a blind eye to repression in pursuit of wider security and commercial interests.
The Obama doctrine implies readiness to intervene directly in a country’s internal politics in support of broader principles. In this instance, his stinging criticism of Mubarak’s failure to make “immediate, meaningful and sufficient” reforms was tantamount to a demand that he resign.
It also risks the alienation of regional rulers and the fracturing of old alliances that have sustained US and western European policy since the cold war. The Saudis had taken a dim view of the US president’s undercutting of Mubarak; now they will wonder who might be next.
Israeli leaders, too, are alarmed. They never quite trusted Obama. And repression of the Arab masses by Arab autocrats suited them quite well for, by and large, the Arab street has always been more hostile to Israel than the Arab elites.
Israel, too, could hitherto pose as the region’s only real democracy. But that moral advantage is slipping, along with long-held strategic and defensive preconceptions. This uncertainty might yet jolt Israeli leaders out of their obstructive complacency over Palestine. Obama just accelerated this uncharted process.
Events in Tunisia and then Egypt forced the US president down this road. But his speech in Cairo in 2009, about engaging and developing the Arab and Muslim spheres, showed he was not a reluctant traveller.
Halfway through his presidency, he is finally beginning to define his own distinctive and transformational approach, after initially accepting most of the old US foreign policy shibboleths. In Afghanistan, overly influenced by his generals, he bought into the old way of doing things. Now, burned by that experience, he is forging a different path.
This is not a return to the “liberal interventionism” of the Bush-Blair era. The Obama doctrine is not about brute force, but forceful beliefs. Even so, it is winning fans on the American right, as well as among Egyptians.
in beginning to enunciate a foreign policy doctrine guided by clearly established democratic values and mutual respect, he may not only avoid more Egypt-style dilemmas, he may also be on his way to bridging the gulf between pragmatism and principle.
President Barack Obama’s budget proposal is expected to give states a way to collect more payroll taxes from businesses, in an effort to replenish the unemployment-insurance program. The plan could cause controversy at a time when the administration is seeking to mend fences with corporate America.
The proposal would aim to restock strained state unemployment-insurance trust funds by raising the amount of wages on which companies must pay unemployment taxes to $15,000, more than double the $7,000 in place since 1983.
The plan, which would take effect in 2014, could increase payroll taxes by as much as $100 billion over a decade, according to a person involved in its construction.
3. NYT story about the real effect of the health care lawand what would happen if it’s gone:
…For example, Hillary St. Pierre, a 28-year-old former registered nurse who has Hodgkin’s lymphoma, had expected to reach her insurance plan’s $2 million limit this year. Under the new law, the cap was eliminated when the policy she gets through her husband’s employer was renewed this year.
Ms. St. Pierre, who has already come close once before to losing her coverage because she had reached the plan’s maximum, says she does not know what she will do if the cap is reinstated. “I will be forced to stop treatment or to alter my treatment,” Ms. St. Pierre, who lives in Charlestown, N.H., with her husband and son, said in an e-mail. “I will find a way to continue and survive, but who is going to pay?”
As judges and lawmakers debate the fate of the new health care law, patients like Ms. St. Pierre or Alex Ell, a 22-year-old with hemophilia who lives in Portland, Ore., fear losing one of the law’s key protections. Like Ms. St. Pierre, Mr. Ell expected to reach the limits of his coverage this year if the law had not passed. In 2010, the bill for the clotting factor medicine he needs was $800,000, and his policy has a $1.5 million cap. “It is a close call,” he said.
NORFOLK, VA – Unveiling a coordinated strategic plan to accelerate the development of offshore wind energy, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu today announced major steps forward in support of offshore wind energy in the United States, including new funding opportunities for up to $50.5 million for projects that support offshore wind energy deployment and several high priority Wind Energy Areas in the mid-Atlantic that will spur rapid, responsible development of this abundant renewable resource.
Deployment of clean, renewable offshore wind energy will help meet the President’s goal of generating 80 percent of the Nation’s electricity from clean energy sources by 2035.
5. Didn’t you just love the knee-jerk reaction by the usual suspect to the president’s smart and brilliant speech yesterday? I wonder how many of those keyboards heroes actually bothered listening. Oh well, i guess it’s time to throw the Unions under the so-called progressive bus:
….My understanding is that labor officials expected Obama to repeat his insistence on more infrastructure spending — which after all isn’t that controversial, since the Chamber supports the idea in principle. But labor types didn’t expect, and were cheered by, Obama’s defense of government regulation, the emphasis on reforming the tax code so it benefits everyone, and the insistence that corporations need to ask themselves what they can do for America and its workers.
On behalf of the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Southern Sudan for a successful and inspiring referendum in which an overwhelming majority of voters chose independence. I am therefore pleased to announce the intention of the United States to formally recognize Southern Sudan as a sovereign, independent state in July 2011.
After decades of conflict, the images of millions of southern Sudanese voters deciding their own future was an inspiration to the world and another step forward in Africa’s long journey toward justice and democracy. Now, all parties have a responsibility to ensure that this historic moment of promise becomes a moment of lasting progress. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement must be fully implemented and outstanding disputes must be resolved peacefully. At the same time, there must be an end to attacks on civilians in Darfur and a definitive end to that conflict.
As I pledged in September when addressing Sudanese leaders, the United States will continue to support the aspirations of all Sudanese—north and south, east and west. We will work with the governments of Sudan and Southern Sudan to ensure a smooth and peaceful transition to independence. For those who meet all of their obligations, there is a path to greater prosperity and normal relations with the United States, including examining Sudan’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. And while the road ahead will be difficult, those who seek a future of dignity and peace can be assured that they will have a steady partner and friend in the United States.
7. Finally, two excellent comments from the previous thread, that i want to re-post:
I watched him today quietly letting the air out of the business balloons they were getting ready for the Republican convention. He’s already establishing a consistent, coherent rhetorical approach. He started with the SOTU with the motto “Win the Future”. Last week he was in Green Bay and at Penn State, touring businesses and again reiterating his message, and including with it his push for infrastructure investment, tax credits for creative ideas, investment in clean energy, and revision of the tax code.
Today he extended his outreach to business, focusing on revision of the tax code and reformation of the humongous regulatory machinery of the government, but also appealing on a very basic level to their sense of future viability – noting that the current situation is unsustainable – and also to their sense of patriotism. Now, the naysayers of the site which shall not be named were out in force poo-pooing his appeal to patriotism and I would agree that the most rapacious among our business interests are not really interested in such an archaic notion; however, the CofC represents tens of thousands of businesses and has enormous influence even on businesses which are not members, and most of THOSE people DO believe in patriotism and contributing to this country’s welfare. Obama really went to town on them, talking about the public/private partnership of WWII era business and the way it responded to FDR’s call to join with him for the war effort. People forget that business was pretty mad at FDR before the war. He appealed to their sense of patriotism and industry fell in line for most of the war with only a few labor disruptions here and there.
In future I think we may hear Obama start talking about the relationship of WWII to Health Care Reform (yes, there IS one). The whole reason businesses started offering health care coverage for employees was by way of satisfying the demands of labor without actually having to raise salaries in wartime. The labor supply was very limited and they needed something to offer, so it was health care. If I were the POTUS I’d start educating the public about this fact and point out that even though we still have health care tied to employers it is no longer a ball and chain keeping people in jobs they would otherwise leave. And with the severing or at least weakening of the link between work and health care we can see a new rise in innovation and start-up companies. If you KNOW you can get health care insurance even if you leave your job, then you’re MORE, not LESS likely to strike out on your own to try that new business idea.
I hope this has all been choreographed and scripted and we will hear these themes elaborated upon and introduced in the next few months. He is presently laying the groundwork for a successful second run and for the major items which will occupy his second term: tax reform, immigration reform, streamlining of government, and education reform. He expects (especially since he’s a Constitutional lawyer) to win the health care challenges in the high court. This will force the Republicans to finally sit down and deal with him. His approach to the CofC was great today because the one thing the businesses have been whining about is uncertainty about the HCR and about taxes. The lawsuits against HCR INCREASE that uncertainty and it’s going to lead to strains between the business community. Some of them are going to get tired of the libertarian train ride with the Kochs because this constant obstructionism is hurting their business chances.
From Nathan Katungi:
What is really distressing about the so called progressive bashers of Obama is their immaturity. They are always bashing the President for being a “Corporatist.” Sadly, they forget that the United States is still a capitalist country where corporations still play a major role-and especially when it comes to employment. No president can solve the economic problems facing the country without dealing with businesses, including the giant corporations.
By the way, the other distressing thing about the PL is their ignorance of history. Strangely, they have joined the right wingers in creating mythological heroic presidents. For the right wingers the hero president is Ronald Reagan. Never mind the fact that Reagan created the largest deficit compared to the presidents before him. Never mind the fact that, in his second year in office, the unemployment was still over 10%. And, of course, never mind the fact that Reagan raised taxes to try to deal with the massive deficit.
As for the so called Progressives, their mythical heroes are FDR and LBJ. Never mind the fact that in FDR’s second year in office the unemployment rate was still over 20%. Never mind the fact that it wasn’t until his third year in office that Roosevelt was able to pass major legislations like Social Security and the Wagner Act (giving workers the right to collective bargaining with their employers) which, by the way, were severely compromised, in order to win the support of the Dixiecrats (perhaps to day’ s blue dogs). Never mind the fact that many of the commendable New Deal Programs discriminated against African Americans. And as for LBJ, people forget that LBJ’s Civil Rights successes had a great deal to do with the assassination of JFK and the massive Civil Rights protests. For Example: the monumental Civil Rights Act of 1964, signed into law by LBJ was initiated by JFK in response to the Sit-Ins and Freedom-Rides. Somehow, this context is omitted by those who try to paint Obama as weak compared to LBJ. As much as I detest the “teabaggers,” I still give them credit for their mass demonstrations (though these demonstrations may have been artificially engineered by people like Dick Armey) in opposition to the President’s policies. Unfortunately, we who call ourselves progressives were no where to be found in support of progressive legislations. sadly, the professional left turned on the president, despite the fact that he was out there fighting on our behalf, to get the best deal he could.
Personally, I am very proud of President Obama’s accomplishments, in his two years in office, despite all the hostility from both the Republicans and the self anointed progressives.
President Barack Obama signs the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, February 2, 2011. Looking on are (L-R) Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN).
WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Barack Obama will formally sign ratification papers for a new Russia-US disarmament treaty on Wednesday, which slashes existing warhead ceilings by 30 percent over the next 10 years.
Officials said Obama will make the ceremonial gesture in the Oval Office, before the milestone pact comes into force on February 5 at a ceremony in Munich attended by the two nations’ top diplomats.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the new START agreement’s ratification on Friday after the Russian parliament passed the pact, which was endorsed by the US Senate last month.
The US President’s words have gone with the grain of Middle East societies in a way that the sermons of Bush and Blair did not.
…Is President Obama succeeding where Bush and Blair so expensively failed? ….he took a very different approach … As presidential candidate, he campaigned against the Iraq war and expressly rejected the imposition of democracy….democracy, he argued, was still eminently good but had to come from within. Under his leadership, he said, the US would not dictate to other nations how they should organise their lives.
…Mr Obama did not just yank US foreign policy back in the realist direction taken by his Democrat predecessor, Bill Clinton. He combined that shift with an unusual degree of cultural awareness, most conspicuously in the early overtures he made towards the Muslim countries …. One of his first foreign-policy moves was … a wide-ranging speech addressed to Muslims everywhere. He delivered it in Cairo.
….More than a year and half later the choice of Cairo University looks prescient … revisiting the speech, it is immediately clear not only how far he has shifted the US agenda, but how far his commitment to home-grown democracy remains the same … Obama’s language shines out as consistent with everything that protesters across the Arab world are demanding now.
…Maybe Obama’s early overtures planted a seed that is starting to bear fruit across the Muslim world. Maybe it is simply that modern communications, plus the similar politics, economics and demographics across the region, are combining to galvanise discontent. What is evident, though, is that Obama’s words have gone with the grain of these societies in a way that the sermons of Bush and Blair did not.
Any social ferment of this order brings huge uncertainty. And it is embarrassing to watch Western leaders struggling to divest themselves of allies from a bygone age. But if you ask which American leader contributed more to the cause of change in the Muslim world, you might not agree – yet – that it was Barack Obama, but you could surely accept that George Bush set it back.
Cable networks kept replaying a single shot from Tuesday’s protests in Egypt, a rooftop view of a massive crowd, where a banner was held aloft. “Yes We Can Too,” it read in English. It seemed to be a message directed at Barack Obama, who had used a similar slogan, and to the American people who had voted Obama into office. It was also a message that Obama would be likely to embrace. As the president said Tuesday night, in a statement in the White House Grand Foyer, directly below his family’s residence, “The United States will continue to stand up for democracy and the universal rights that all human beings deserve, in Egypt and around the world.”
In Obama’s thinking, there are two principles, each tugging in a different direction, that are guiding the U.S. approach, say White House officials. The president laid them out in his 2009 speech to Cairo. First, the U.S. would continue to promote democratic values as universal rights. Second, the U.S. will not seek to impose any form of government, or specific set of rulers, on any foreign country. “No system of government can or should be imposed by one nation by any other,” Obama said in Cairo.
The third force tugging on Obama is the bundle of pragmatic interests of the United States–to have a stable partner in the Middle East, to prevent Egypt from becoming a haven for extremism, to maintain the shaky peace between Israel and its neighbors, and to keep the Suez canal open and safe, among others. The story of the last week has been the story of a White House coming to grips with, and juggling, these three priorities.
WASHINGTON – The best month for U.S. factories in nearly seven years is brightening the outlook for job growth.
Companies are exporting more construction and mining equipment, and Americans are buying more cars, appliances and computers.
The Institute for Supply Management, a private trade group, said Tuesday that its index of manufacturing activity rose last month to 60.8. It was the highest reading since May 2004 and the 18th straight month the sector has grown. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion.
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Private-sector employment rose in January, and “strength was evident” in all major industries and sizes of business, according to Automatic Data Processing’s employment report released Wednesday.
The ADP report showed that private-sector employment rose 187,000, with the service-producing sector gaining 166,000 and the goods-producing sector increasing 21,000. Employment rose 97,000 at small businesses, 79,000 at medium businesses and 11,000 at large businesses.
MOSCOW — Russia’s lower house of parliament on Tuesday ratified a landmark nuclear arms pact with the United States, virtually assuring passage of an agreement President Barack Obama has described as the most significant arms control deal in nearly two decades.
The State Duma voted 350-96 with one abstention to pass a bill to ratify the New START treaty, which was approved by the U.S. Senate late last year. The treaty will now go to the upper house for final approval.
The New START would limit each country to 1,550 strategic warheads, down from the current ceiling of 2,200 and also re-establish a system for monitoring that ended in December 2009 with the expiration of the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty signed by Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and President George H.W. Bush.
President Barack Obama talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during a phone call in the Oval Office, Jan. 25, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)