Dr. Mustafa Olwi: Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Within a few days, Obama's first year in the White House will have passed. He was elected with a large majority, speaking to the belief in the necessity of transition that accompanied inauguration as President.

Signs of transition in Obama's assumption of power were not limited to his unusual electoral campaign. These signs can also be seen in the new policies that dictated American politics at home and abroad. With regards to his  foreign policy, the most important views Obama put forth included the re-branding of the American image abroad—a problem he aimed to fix by establishing new relations with the Islamic world based on mutual dialogue, diplomacy and cooperation.

Obama also stressed that America would target Al-Qaeda and the Taliban specifically, not the Islamic world or Muslims. He rejected the idea that Muslims were by definition terrorists. In this regard, Obama's views of two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict emerged. He considered the two-state solution vital to American national interests. Additionally, Obama called for adopting a strategy of exit Iraq, leaving the country’s future in the hands of its people.

The problem associated with his new, bold ideas is that many have considered them no more than unfeasible theoretical suggestions. There is no doubt that this opinion hints at the slow pace of progress. Yet, these ideas are evidence of a great shift— compared to what things used to be like in the days when the neo-conservatives dominated the White House.

When Obama himself spoke about ridding the world of nuclear weapons, he said that it was a strategic goal that he sought, but he was aware that it was not achievable during his lifetime.

However, he said that this would not prevent negotiations and policies aimed at reducing the military nuclear arsenals of the United States and Russia.

Obama's policies in dealing with the issues of Iraq, Iran and its nuclear program, are also  better than those of his predecessor. We should acknowledge that these new policies have had a positive effect not only on the two countries, but also on the future of the Gulf region and the Middle East. However, the situation in Palestine and the difficulty of converting Obama's words into actions lead many analysts to believe that Obama's ability to achieve the dream is not as strong as his inspiration.

However, we must note that the inter-Palestinian division, and the dominance of the radical right wing on politics in Israel are major obstacles to any efforts adopted by Obama or others.

Obama alone cannot achieve his dreams without serious cooperation from the rest of the world.


 Dr. Mustafa Olwi - Head of Political Sciences Department, Cairo University, Member in the State Consultative Council


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