Obama Fails to Impress

SIFNOS, GREECE -- President Barack Obama's masterfully written,
artfully delivered recent speech in Cairo was filled with just what the
Muslim world had been waiting for.

After eight years of the George W. Bush administration's
relentless anti-Islamic hostility, the world's 1.5 billion Muslims at
last heard an intelligent, respectful speech from President Obama
calling for normalized relations with the Muslim world, including
former "betes noires" Iran and Syria, co-operation, and advancement of
democracy and human rights.

Very nice. But the Muslim world was not as taken by Obama's
silver-tongued oratory as many Americans. The general response there
was, "actions speak louder than words. Show us."

Rather than a friendly, helpful U.S.A., many Muslims saw Obama
expanding the war in Afghanistan that he could easily have ended upon
taking office. They saw the U.S.-rented Pakistani army create three
million refugees in its Swat offensive against rebellious tribesmen,
continuing U.S. occupation of Iraq, and CIA's covert campaign to
destabilize Iran and Syria.

Muslims saw Israel's rightist government thumbing its nose at
Obama's sensible calls for a halt to its colonization of the West Bank
and Golan, and the U.S. Congress applauding Israel's hard line like
trained seals.

These facts speak a lot louder than the president's mellifluous oratory.

We would like to give the new president the benefit of the
doubt. He has been in office only four months and will need a lot more
time to begin repairing the catastrophic damage inflicted by the Bush
administration on U.S. interests and standing in the Muslim world and
Europe. Here in Greece, for example, anti-U.S. sentiment reached an all
time high, but is now declining thanks to Obama.

However, the White House's recent actions belie the new president's promises.

Exhibit A: Obama unfortunately chose Egypt from which to deliver his message to Muslims of amity, democracy and human rights.

Egypt's U.S.-backed dictator, Husni Mubarak, has ruled for 37
years and is grooming his son to replace him. This leading Arab nation
is run by a corrupt oligarchy, the military and secret police.


Egypt has become notorious for torture and human rights
violations. Opponents of the regime are intimidated or arrested and
tortured. Elections are crudely rigged.

Egypt is America's most important Muslim ally, along with
Saudi Arabia. Are these repressive states what Obama means when he
calls for democracy and human rights? He should have given his speech
from democratic Indonesia, or the progressive United Arab Emirates and
Qatar, rather than Egypt, a pillar of America's Mideast raj.

Exhibit B: Lebanon's June 7 parliamentary elections. A
U.S.-French-Saudi-backed coalition of Sunni, Christians, and Druze was
pitted against a Syrian-Iranian backed Hezbollah-led coalition that
included Armenians and a Christian splinter faction.

Late last month, U.S. Vice-President Joseph Biden went to
Lebanon and threatened to cut off all U.S. aid to that nation of 3.9
million if the democratically elected Hezbollah coalition won. Hillary
Clinton made similar crude threats.

Imagine the uproar if the Saudi crown prince came to the U.S.
just before elections and threatened to raise oil prices if Democrats

The United States, Saudi Arabia and France spent millions of
dollars bribing Lebanon's rentable politicians and voters. The U.S. has
been mucking around in Lebanon since 1957.

Iran spread some money around as well. Nothing new about that:
Lebanon's politicians are among the most corrupt and easily bought on

Vote rigging

All the western "baksheesh" and some fancy vote rigging helped
the U.S.-backed May 14 coalition, headed by Saad Hariri, win 71 seats.
The Hezbollah-led coalition, which speaks for the nation's Shia, won
only 57 seats. This left sectarian, fragmented Lebanon just where it
was before this sleazy election.

Is this what Obama means by promoting good government in the Muslim world?

Many Muslims and non-Muslims alike see Obama as an honest,
decent, well-intentioned leader who has not yet managed to impose his
will on the aggressive financial-military-industrial complex that
seemingly remains the real power in Washington.

© 2023 Eric Margolis