Actions Speak Louder than Words: Response to Obama
The Los Angeles Times today commended President Obama for his rhetorical spirit that “moved mountains in the land of Muhammad,” but the substance of his speech has been harvested by academics the Middle East Strategy at Harvard blog. Contributors highlighted Obama’s emphasis on norms of governance and claim that democracy is a human right. Michele Dunne notes that Obama addressed democracy admirably in the only part of the speech where he delivered imperatives for behavior in fulfilling representative democracy. In concurrence with many critics, she notes that he did not prescribe any U.S. policy in regard to democracy promotion.
Also calling for policy action, the Washington Post claims that Israel’s compliance should not be the gauge for measuring success of a new relationship with the Middle East, but that Obama must continue, in word and action, advocating the issues he raised in the speech to regional governments. Criticizing the speech’s “new beginning,” the Washington Times today considers Obama’s address to be “the same old song” that George W. Bush delivered to Middle Eastern audiences, including comments about democracy made in Egypt by George Bush last year.
Among other responses to Obama’s speech, Senators Russ Feingold and John Kerry applauded the president. Kerry endorsed Obama’s commitment to democracy, saying “he shattered stereotypes on both sides, reminded the west and the Muslim world of our responsibilities, and reaffirmed one of America’s highest ideals and traditional roles — that those who seek freedom and democracy, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, have no greater friend than the United States of America.”