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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Embarrassingly condescending, clueless lecturer

Ancient peoples see the rhetoric for what is it Same Ole policies and prejudice
Excerpt, editing, brief comment by Carolyn Bennett

“Mr. Obama and his equally gutless Secretary of State have no idea what they are facing in the Middle East. The Arabs are no longer afraid.” Middle East expert and journalist Robert Fisk

What the U.S. President should have said in his Middle East speech, Fisk wrote in the Independent before today’s live version, is, “We will leave Afghanistan tomorrow. We will leave Iraq tomorrow. We will stop giving unconditional, craven support to Israel. Americans will force the Israelis — and the European Union — to end their siege of Gaza. We will withhold all future funding for Israel unless it ends, totally and unconditionally, its building of colonies on Arab land that does not belong to it. We will cease all cooperation and business deals with the vicious dictators of the Arab world — whether they be Saudi or Syrian or Libyan — and we will support democracy even in those countries where we have massive business interests. Oh yes, and we will talk to Hamas. …”

President Barack Obama, of course, said no such thing. He continued to lecture people on matters about which he is carelessly clueless. The people of the Middle East know far more about their lives and what they should and should not do than any U.S. official will ever know and, glaringly arrogantly, disrespectfully, these officials historically have not a care of knowing.

“What Mr. Obama does not understand and, of course, Mrs. [Hillary Rodham/Bill] Clinton has not the slightest idea – is that, in the new Arab world, there can be no more reliance on dictator-toadies, no more flattery,” Fisk wrote.

“The CIA may have its cash funds to hand but I suspect few Arabs will want to touch them. The Egyptians will not tolerate the siege of Gaza. Nor, I think, will the Palestinians. Nor the Lebanese, for that matter; and nor the Syrians when they have got rid of the clansmen who rule them.

“The Europeans will work that out quicker than the Americans – we are, after all, rather closer to the Arab world – and we will not forever let our lives be guided by America’s fawning indifference to Israeli theft of property. …

“… [T]he old Middle East is over. The new Middle East is about to begin. And we better wake up.”

Anymore, the U.S. president, his Cabinet, and his rhetoric seem silly — an embarrassing portrait in cluelessness.

Sources and notes

At the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C., President Barack Obama spoke today on events in the Middle East and North Africa, http://sg.news.yahoo.com/photos/us-president-barack-obama-speaks-events-middle-east-photo-180523439.html

“Robert Fisk: President's fine words may not address the Middle East's real needs — In a keynote speech today, Barack Obama will try to redefine America’s relationship with the Arab world. Our writer is skeptical,” May 19, 2011, http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-presidents-fine-words-may-not-address-the-middle-easts-real-needs-2286077.html

Robert Fisk (b. July 1946, Maidstone, Kent, England, UK)

Journalist and expert on Middle-East conflicts, author of several books about Middle-East conflicts, Robert Fisk is a recipient of Amnesty International UK Press Awards including for his articles on the NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia in 1999. He has also received the British Press Awards’ International Journalist of the Year seven times and twice won its ‘Reporter of the Year’ award. Fisk holds undergraduate and doctoral degrees in English and Classics (Lancaster University) and Political Science (Trinity College, Dublin), and is the recipient of several honorary degrees.

Quotes attributed to Fisk:

“War is primarily not about victory or defeat but about death and the infliction of death. It represents the total failure of the human spirit.”

“The best definition of journalism I have heard: ‘to challenge authority — all authority — especially so when governments and politicians take us to war, when they have decided that they will kill and others will die.'” http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1745178/bio

Among the reactions in the Middle East to the U.S. president’s ‘Arab Spring’ speech collected by Al Jazeera were these:

“The peoples of the region are not in need of Obama’s lectures. Obama reaffirmed his absolute support for the policies of the (Israeli) occupation and his rejection of any criticism of the Occupation.”

“We affirm that Palestinian reconciliation is a Palestinian affair and that the (peace) negotiations have proven to be pointless.”

“We were expecting a lot more from Obama’s speech today regarding the Palestinians who suffer from the hardships of the occupation and what the Israeli occupation does against the Palestinians but Obama did not bring anything new.”

“What Obama needs to do is not to add slogans but to take concrete steps to protect the rights of the Palestinian people and the Arab nation.”

“Reactions: Obama's ‘Arab Spring address’ — Reactions to Obama’s speech outlining his vision for the Middle East and North Africa,” May 19, 2011, http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2011/05/2011519164415837225.html



The Middle or Near East consists of the lands around the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. These lands extend from Morocco to the Arabian Peninsula and Iran, sometimes beyond. 

Some of the first modern Western geographers and historians who tended to divide the Orient into three regions gave the region the name Near East. In their three-region designations, the Near East applied to the region nearest Europe, extending from the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf; the Middle East, extending from the Persian Gulf to Southeast Asia; and the Far East, encompassing the regions facing the Pacific Ocean.

The change in usage from Near to Middle East began evolving before World War II and extended through the war. The term Middle East was given to the British military command in Egypt.

So defined, the Middle East consisted of the states or territories of —
Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon
Iraq, Iran, Palestine, Jordan
Egypt, The Sudan, Libya and
Various states of Arabia proper (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, and the Trucial States, or Trucial Oman [now United Arab Emirates]
 Subsequent events have tended, in loose usage, to enlarge the number of lands included in the definition, among them —
Three North African countries: Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco “closely connected in sentiment and foreign policy with the Arab states” 
Afghanistan and Pakistan, because of geographic factors, state official and others take into account in connection with affairs of the Middle East. 
Greece occasionally is included in the compass of the Middle East because the Middle Eastern (then Near Eastern) question in its modern form first became apparent when the Greeks in 1821 rebelled to assert their independence from the Ottoman Empire). Turkey and Greece, together with the predominantly Arabic-speaking lands around the eastern end of the Mediterranean, were also formerly known as the Levant.
Historically the countries along the eastern Mediterranean shores were called the Levant. Common use of the term is associated with Venetian and other trading ventures and the establishment of commerce with cities such as Tyre and Sidon as a result of the Crusades. It was applied to the coastlands of Asia Minor and Syria, sometimes extending from Greece to Egypt. It was also used for Anatolia and as a synonym for the Middle or Near East. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the term High Levant referred to the Far East. The name Levant States was given to the French mandate of Syria and Lebanon after World War I, and the term is sometimes still used for those two countries, which became independent in 1946. Levant (from the French lever, ‘to rise,’ as in sunrise, meaning the east.

Use of the term Middle East remains unsettled, and some agencies (notably the United States State Department and certain bodies of the United Nations) still employ the term Near East.
Middle East. (2011). Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Deluxe Edition.  Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica


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