Obama’s Cairo mission: Don’t be Bush

Under George W. Bush, America's Arab/Muslim report card was an F-minus. U.S. standing in the Middle East and among the world's Muslims sank to an all-time low, terrorist attacks greatly increased, violent extremists gained power, moderate and pro-U.S. regimes were weakened, the crucial Israeli-Palestinian conflict grew ever more intractable, Iraq sank into a hell from which it has only now begun to emerge, and the Taliban surged back in Afghanistan and threatened Pakistan. Bush's policies were directly responsible for many of these calamitous outcomes, and exacerbated others. In his Cairo speech, Obama's most pressing need is thus to make it unequivocally clear to the world's 1.5 billion Muslims and 325 million Arabs that the U.S. has decisively rejected Bush's failed ideology and policies, and intends to chart a completely new path. We can expect Obama to invoke his own background, reject the idea of a “clash of civilizations” and make an inspiring appeal to shared values. Those oratorical flourishes will count for something, but unless he supports them with tough, realistic language and actual policy changes, they will just go down as pretty words. What follows is a list of Bush's five cardinal Middle East errors, and what Obama can do in his speech and in his subsequent actions to correct them.” — Gary Kamiya (Salon )

Did Obama apologize explicitly and forcefully for the idiocy and criminality of Bush and make it clear how US action and policy will depart from that of his predecessor? Did he make it clear that we are not a Christian nation? that our policy is no longer to be “guided by voices”? A preliminary reading of the Cairo speech sugests he fell short.