… was by all accounts terrific. Here’s Robert Kaplan’s report in The Atlantic, for example:
(June 4, 2009).
One can take apart President Barack Obama’s speech to the Muslim world delivered at Cairo University today, and subject its sentences to all manner of criticism and analysis, but its overall effect was magnificent. It employed the forward-looking optimism of the American Dream in the service of the hopes and frustrations of youth throughout the Islamic cultural continuum. It also restored the kind of public relations magic that America possessed overseas in the years immediately after World War II. Obama is no doubt more popular among Muslim youth than many of their own leaders.
The President spoke of a “new beginning,” about not being “prisoners of the past,” about how the “enduring faith of a billion should not be hostage to a few extremists.” He spoke about religious freedom, not only for Muslims, but for the Christian minorities in their midst – like the Copts in Egypt and the Maronites in Lebanon. He spoke about women’s rights, and how “education and innovation,” as practiced by Muslim states like Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates, are the “currencies of the 21st century.” He didn’t defend the forcible implementation of democracy, but he did defend good government and civil society in all countries. Thus, he spoke of democracy in philosophical terms rather than in legalistic ones. And he consistently addressed the hopes of his audiences rather than their fears.