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Updated on May 20, 2011


President Barack Obama's speech yesterday was brilliant, except that it displayed a whole lot of grandstanding, which he did not mean to foment, for it came to him naturally; but at the same time, it did not go down so well with a section of his audience.

However, that is what political speeches always do. You can please some of the people all the time; and you can please all the people some of the time; but you cannot please all the people all the time.

It was directed poignantly to the Middle East and North Africa, but his target was the whole world, which in itself was a good thing; why? Because, in the age of cyberspace technology and television, you must allow everybody, or at least three quarters of the world's population to see and hear you.

In other words, the time frame in which he gave his speech was very, very smart or even clever, as the English would say, for it was morning in the United States and afternoon in Europe and the Middle East. For at that time, he had a fully packed audience.

Nevertheless, was his message loud and clear, enough to convince the specific people he was addressing? That would be a hard nut to crack, to say the least.

Considering the intransigence of the Arabs on the one hand, and the overly cautiousness of the Israelis, on the other hand, it would be extremely difficult to draw those two factions any closer together, in a matter of a few minutes, which the speech took to complete. Yet, he tried his best to do it as he knew how.

There, he showed a great deal of integrity and statesmanship, for there was nothing ambiguous about how to resolve the Israel-Palestine problem. A proper solution must come from the boundaries of any state creation, on the part of the Palestinians, and the recognition and sovereignty of the State of Israel. It was a clear cut and precise statement, although some say that it had some amount of Fareed Zakaria-ism in it.

Yet, he also did not fail to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors, from Theodore Roosevelt through to George W. Bush, showing America's love for Liberty, which emphasized outright freedom for all men and women in the whole wide world; and thus, particularly empathizing with the participants in the organic revolutionary frenzy prevailing in the Arab world; as we speak (or type).

All in all, he had a good day, as far as making such an important policy statement was concerned; for there was just a few that would say that he missed the opportunity to define clearly the direct part the U.S. itself must, would or could play to influence events in the overall Middle East crises, comprising of Libya, Egypt, Syria and Yemen, as well as the core issue of Israel and Palestine; although, he glibly did do that, by mentioning U.S.-Israeli strong relationship.

He could have capitalized on the topic for his forthcoming re-election bid; however, to the surprise of many Americans, he did not do so; showing that his concentration was solely on the Middle East and North Africa. Bravo! Mr. President.

P.S. Fareed Zakaria, Editor of Newsweek International.


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      Howard Schneider 

      7 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      I agree with you that this speech was brilliant and much needed. The biggest controversy came with his Israeli-Palestinian conflict remarks. All sides are lambasting him so my view is he is on to something. He laid out his policies and principles regarding the Middle East and human rights and freedoms was superb. Great Hub and right on target.


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