I loved reading this article: “Misreading the Muslim World” by Jeffrey Gedmin (The Journal of International Security Affairs), maybe you too?
Go back and read the speech that President Obama gave at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University on June 4, 2009, and you’ll see just how unkind history can be. This was in essence the President’s attempt to begin to undo the damage done by George W. Bush and the Iraq war and provide a compass, as Mr. Obama envisioned it, for a “new beginning” in America’s relations with the Muslim world. (…)
Apologize for colonialism, voice compassion for Palestinian plight, bow to Islam as a great religion of tolerance and racial equality. The Obama administration’s public diplomacy seems to have been predicated on the idea that if we smother the Muslim world with kindness, dignity and dialogue we can set relations on the right path. But by any measure, more than three years later, the Administration’s approach has borne little fruit. (…)
With the administration’s “new beginnings” public diplomacy now largely in tatters, what lessons can be gleaned for a second Obama term—or a Romney administration in waiting?
Let’s recognize, it’s not about popularity, it’s about interests. It would be a mistake and the wrong objective if the American president were to try to become the darling of Muslims in the Middle East or elsewhere. The United States is a great power with self-interests. It is ridiculous that we labor at times to imply otherwise. Public diplomacy is not therapy. There’s nothing the slightest bit wrong with self-confidently articulating where our interests lie. (…)
Let’s be equally clear that, while it’s about interests, it’s about values, too. Ronald Reagan went to great lengths to explain to Mikhail Gorbachev why the leaders of an unelected government that rules by brute force and wicked coercion cannot be trusted. U.S. foreign policy is at its best—and enjoys its most secure basis at home—when it is conducted in principled fashion and endeavors to align interests and values. (…)