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+10 for Obama, giving his first TV interview to an Arab* network. As always, hope but verify, so we'll wait for a transcript, but the optics are very, very good.

NOTE * Saudi-owned, Dubai-based Al-Arabiya.

NOTE I mean, we wouldn't want this to be a "head fake" the wrong way, would we?

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chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

from an email i got on this:

PARIS — In one of his first interviews since he took office, , President Barack Obama struck a conciliatory tone towards the Islmaic world, saying he wanted to persuade Muslims that "the Americans are not your enemy" and adding that "the moment is ripe for both sides" to negotiate in the Middle East.

His remarks, recorded in Washington on Monday night, signalled a shift — in style and manner at least — from the Bush administration, offering a dialogue with Iran and what he depicted as a new readiness to listen rather than dictate.

Mr. Obama spoke as his special Middle East envoy, George J. Mitchell, headed for Egypt to begin an eight-day tour of in which he will also visit Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, France and Britain.

In a transcript published on Al Arabiya's English language Web site, Mr. t Obama said he believed "the most important thing is for the United States to get engaged right away" and that he had told his envoy to "start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating."

"Ultimately, we cannot tell either the Israelis or the Palestinians what's best for them. They're going to have to make some decisions," Mr. Obama said. "But I do believe that the moment is ripe for both sides to realize that the path that they are on is not going to result in prosperity and security for their people. And that, instead, it's time to return to the negotiating table."

Shortly after the interview, an explosion on the Israel-Gaza border on Tuesday killed an Israeli soldier. A Palestinian farmer was shot dead, according to Palestinian witnesses, in retaliatory gunfire. The incidents were the first known fatal incidents since the Gaza fighting ended 10 days ago.

Mr. Obama said Israel "will not stop being a strong ally of the United States and I will continue to believe that Israel's security is paramount. But I also believe that there are Israelis who recognize that it is important to achieve peace. They will be willing to make sacrifices if the time is appropriate and if there is serious partnership on the other side."

He also said he believed it "possible for us to see a Palestinian state — I'm not going to put a time frame on it — that is contiguous, that allows freedom of movement for its people, that allows for trade with other countries, that allows the creation of businesses and commerce so that people have a better life."

He spoke at length about America's future relationship with the Muslim world, saying his "job is to communicate to the American people that the Muslim world is filled with extraordinary people who simply want to live their lives and see their children live better lives."

"My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy. We sometimes make mistakes. We have not been perfect. But if you look at the track record, as you say, America was not born as a colonial power, and that the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago, there's no reason why we can't restore that. And that I think is going to be an important task," he said.

He drew a distinction between between "extremist organizations" committed to violence and "people who may disagree with my administration and certain actions, or may have a particular viewpoint in terms of how their countries should develop."

"We can have legitimate disagreements but still be respectful. I cannot respect terrorist organizations that would kill innocent civilians and we will hunt them down," he said. "But to the broader Muslim world what we are going to be offering is a hand of friendship."

He also said it was "important for us to be willing to talk to Iran, to express very clearly where our differences are, but where there are potential avenues for progress."

He echoed his inaugural address last week when, he said, "If countries like Iran are willing to unclench their first, they will find an extended hand from us."

He was not asked whether he would continue the policy of former President George Bush in refusing to exclude military action in the dispute over Iran's nuclear ambitions.

i suppose this country wasn't "founded" to be a colonial power, but i think it's annoying, the way our leaders refuse to admit that we have a long heritage of colonialism, at this point in our history. and most certainly our more recent history is very much "colonial." neoliberalism is merely the latest incarnation. saying so is just to "far lefty" i gues.

Davidson's picture
Submitted by Davidson on

I'm a little worried that Obama won't allow Hamas to be part of any Israeli/Palestinian "peace" process and that he has continued the Bush policy of striking inside Pakistan, violating their sovereignty and causing havoc among the locals there in the rural tribal areas.

I don't want viewers to get their hopes up only to be dashed. Even he mentions in the interview that he'll be judged by his actions, not his words.

BTW: Here are the videos of the interview (Part II is poor quality, skipping, replaying bits and pieces):