Thursday, June 04, 2009

Re-parting of the Red Sea: Live Blogging Obama's Cairo Speech

All times are Pakistan Standard Time

4:13: Obama says salam and the crowd goes wild. He also said shukran after his press conference with in Saudi Arabia. A little pandering goes a long way.

4:15: And a quote from the Quran. Is there any country where he wouldn’t win an election.

4:17 When listing the achievements of the Muslim world, I wish he would say, “Muslims have done…” rather than “Islam has done…” Many of the things he has mentioned have nothing to do the religion and everything with the people.

4:19: He also adopts the local pronunciation of Quran. Same as with Pakistan. I don’t know what he has against Afghanistan but he always Americanizes that pronunciation.

4:21: The seven million Muslims in the US seems a bit exaggerated.

4:22: “There are mosques in all 50 states of the US.” Even Mississippi and South Dakota?

4:25America is not and never will be at war with Islam.” Bush used to say this all the time but was never as convincing as Obama. And even with Obama, you just know this is the throat-clearing before he gets to extremism.

4:29: “We don’t want troops in Afghanistan.” We would much rather move them to Pakistan where they are really needed.

4:30: Obama promises $1.5 billion to Pakistan in non-military aid every year. That’s only $28.5 billion less than what Zardari wants.

4:32: Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq have been mentioned. Iran and Palestine must be next.

4:33: “I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo closed by early next year.” Wild applause but surely they must be wondering what he’s going to do with all those prisoners that will not be released.

4:34: Complete silence when Obama emphatically states that the US will have close ties with Israel and lists the suffering of the Jewish people.

4:36: “The situation of the Palestinian people is intolerable.” This is further than any US president has ever gone before. The rest of his Israel-Palestine stuff is typical boiler-plate can’t-we-all-just-get-along rhetoric.

4:40: “The US does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.” Pretty strong stuff. AIPAC just choked on its breakfast (eggs but no bacon).

4:43: Obama made sure to say peace be upon him after taking Propher Muhammed’s name. He doesn’t want to follow the example of Salman Rushdie, Theo Van Gogh and the Danish cartoonists.

4:47: Would Obama’s promotion of democracy have got such cheers if Hosni Mubarak was in the crowd?

4:49: The BBC ticker just said, “Roger Federer on course to win French Open.” That got me more excited than anything Obama has said so far.

4:51: The plight of the Coptic population in Egypt gets a mention. Good on Obama.

4:54: Would it be mean to point out that every Muslim country that Obama praises for electing Muslim leaders only did so because of who their fathers were?

4:56: “Technology can bring mindless violence to our television screen,” says the man whose favourite show is The Wire.

4:58: Obama wants to create a new online system that will allow children in Kansas to communicate with children in Cairo. Sorry buddy, but Al Gore already created the internet.

5:02: Obama is trying to end the speech on a Martin Luther King note. The cynic in me doesn’t like it.

5:04: The third Quranic quote of the night. For those keeping score that’s Quran 3, Bible 2 and Torah 1. I knew he was a secret Jew-hating Muslim.

So, this wasn’t a groundbreaking or historic speech but it did plainly state the direction US policy has been taking under Obama’s presidency. Israel won’t get a blank cheque but there is no way it’s going to abandoned either. The war in Afghanistan and Pakistan will continue. But, one thing this speech made clear is that under Obama the US will be more humble without sacrificing what it sees as it interests.


Pagal_Aadmi_for_debauchery said...

Good speech over all. I was hoping that with all the desis in the White House he would have pronounced assalamalaikum desi style and not with his pseudo dubai return accent!

The crowd was pretty liberal. Did anybody pass out in the crowd? The cheers interestingly enough apart from on the expected Palestinian suffering issue were surprisingly on mention of women's rights and coptics.

I am pissed off as to why Akhi Obama did not say Sallalaho Waleyho Wassalam instead of PBUH when talking about the prophet. Would have been nice to see Sean Hannity's (aka Great American) head explode.

Nice of Obama to acknowledge the overthrow of the Musaddiq gov. of Iran.

The right wingnutry at Corner, MichelleMalkin, Drudge, Hewitt is now going to explode because Brother Obama has given them enough ammunition to stay outraged till at least Monday.

AKS said...

Thanks for the post Bubs.

Ahsan said...

I thought it was an excellent speech, if a touch reserved. His abilities to dance between self-reflection, apology, lecturing, criticism, hope, and yearning is quite extraordinary.

somethingrichandstrange said...

aww bubs why so cynical?
haha ahsan, the obama fanboy, should've written this post. there would've been so much gushing!

bubs said...

PAFB: Reading National Review today was so much fun. They really hate Muslims.

AKS: Thanks

Ahsan: It was an excellent speech but everyone is going to use it as a cudgel against him. There is no way he can even hope to do all he promised, but if he manages to achieve even 10% he will be an excellent president.

Somethingrichandstrange: I don't think I was particularly cynical. I really liked the speech, his delivery is perfect and unlike most politicians he deals in ideas. It's quite refreshing but I can't help but feel that everyone will feel slightly let down by him because he promises so much.

Ahsan said...


"Obama fanboy"? Come on, that's not fair. I criticized him once. I think. Back in 07 if I recall correctly.

Aditya said...

Just a FYI..apparently NDTV also reads your blog. While reporting on Obama's speech and its reaction in Islamic countries, it gives a reference to your quote "Is there any country where he wouldn’t win an election." but does not directly mentions your blog.(It just says a blogger in Pakistan).
I dont know whether congratulations are in order :)

Ahsan said...

Well, if we were going to get a mention on Indian tv, I would have much preferred the "secret Jew hating Muslim" line to be quoted -- it would have definitely led to more visitors.

nsahmed said...

love the commentary! :D