Obama Speech: Will The Real Action Be For Civil Society?

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President ObamaWatching President Obama deliver a major speech today on the Middle East is a reminder that even major speeches go only so far: It’s what follows them that really counts.

Certainly there was something to like about some of the rhetoric: Obama specifically pointed to the government of Bahrain, a US ally, and told it to embrace political change and to release political prisoners. “You can’t have dialogue when parts of peaceful opposition are in jail,” he said.

Likewise, his call for peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine based on 1967 borders could shake up failed negotiations.

But the rhetoric on human rights and democracy was strong two years ago when the president spoke in Cairo.  To many human rights activists in the region, the Obama Administration has spent the past two years failing to live up to that rhetoric in the region and being behind the curve of the Arab Spring.

And today’s speech again was filled with the double standards that have long challenged U.S. policy in the region. Obama condemned the shooting of Syrian protesters by Syrian security forces, but he maintained the US silence on the killing of Syrian demonstrators by Israeli soldiers just last week. Apparently who shoots a Syrians matters for a lot.

T. Kumar, international advocacy director for Amnesty International USA, remarked:

“The fact that the president failed to mention political prisoners in Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates begs the question: Will the United States push to see that human rights in those countries also are protected.  The question is left unanswered.”

In fact, Obama seemed resigned at his ability to press even friendly governments into political change.  Instead, he seemed to put greater hope at the building of Arab civil society into a force that the governments of the region cannot overlook.

And the one substantive policy announced in the speech was aimed more at civil society than the region’s governments: Debt relief and economic development for Egypt, which is key to reversing poverty and supporting economic progress in the region.

For decades, Amnesty International has documented the muzzling of civil society throughout the region.  Throughout the region, governments with impunity censored books, controlled newspapers and television stations, harassed and limited political and non-governmental organization, attacked women’s groups and other ethnic and social minorities.

The lesson of the Arab Spring is that civil society in the region is a naturally vibrant organism that would like our support but isn’t waiting for us to take the lead. If the Obama Administration is incapable of changing the region’s governments, the best thing it can do is to offer real, concrete support for Arab civil society, then stand back and let it bring change itself.

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12 thoughts on “Obama Speech: Will The Real Action Be For Civil Society?

  1. Look at it Amnesty, there is conflicting evidence. Tv Networks for instance can impersonate and do so when we put them on Dutch Sysrtem Values… Asia and I studied the Collaps of the Asian Market over a day… Just curious we were to see if Netherlands had been able to steer Network Information on the Professional Highway … The shock Horror when we went in to Alarmphase 2, counting 3 (invasion or touchdown) 2 (Occupied) 3. Dead. The news in collective newsroom is really disturbing. I would the Global Newsnetworks to come to a Sharebasis exchange of News Material, to shed as much light on the State War against the People. For many reasons and mainly because Wonderllbe and I are hostage and they plucked us. i lost my house, I lost my income, and Dutch Amnesties, turn a blind eye. I was shocked to see a Dutch Antroposopher exactly in Lybia at outbreak. A 4D War Picture made it to the movies. Watch carefully, because my Arab friends and I believe it could have been in the middle of the Sahgara and Google says it's real.

    Wjhat is it about. Trying control me as the Technologian Beyond your President's Arsenal.

    Is it not time, that The Loge in netherlands gets it where Chinese control is welcome to help me fight. I have too much professional advise and solutions at hand I can't deliver everything through the WEB,>>> I have deteriorating Health and the Beasts live forever.
    I asked to have a fact searcjh on my risk in Arnhem. Truth? Leave me in the lurch in Arnhem 2049 is the end. Any other thing has been put out of my reach. Wjhat am I a Human. I haven't had a full 24 hours of Freedom on this Planet in this Plane and inthis CjHaosheap there is not one Soul that takes the effort to look me up and get me out. The reputation Arnhem is Gulag all over the Colonies and why does nobody else spen d a word on me???? It kills me for real.

    Love
    Antoinette

  2. Look at it Amnesty, there is conflicting evidence. Tv Networks for instance can impersonate and do so when we put them on Dutch Sysrtem Values… Asia and I studied the Collaps of the Asian Market over a day… Just curious we were to see if Netherlands had been able to steer Network Information on the Professional Highway … The shock Horror when we went in to Alarmphase 2, counting 3 (invasion or touchdown) 2 (Occupied) 3. Dead. The news in collective newsroom is really disturbing. I would the Global Newsnetworks to come to a Sharebasis exchange of News Material, to shed as much light on the State War against the People. For many reasons and mainly because Wonderllbe and I are hostage and they plucked us. i lost my house, I lost my income, and Dutch Amnesties, turn a blind eye. I was shocked to see a Dutch Antroposopher exactly in Lybia at outbreak. A 4D War Picture made it to the movies. Watch carefully, because my Arab friends and I believe it could have been in the middle of the Sahgara and Google says it’s real.

    Wjhat is it about. Trying control me as the Technologian Beyond your President’s Arsenal.

    Is it not time, that The Loge in netherlands gets it where Chinese control is welcome to help me fight. I have too much professional advise and solutions at hand I can’t deliver everything through the WEB,>>> I have deteriorating Health and the Beasts live forever.
    I asked to have a fact searcjh on my risk in Arnhem. Truth? Leave me in the lurch in Arnhem 2049 is the end. Any other thing has been put out of my reach. Wjhat am I a Human. I haven’t had a full 24 hours of Freedom on this Planet in this Plane and inthis CjHaosheap there is not one Soul that takes the effort to look me up and get me out. The reputation Arnhem is Gulag all over the Colonies and why does nobody else spen d a word on me???? It kills me for real.

    Love
    Antoinette

  3. Yes… A strong civil society can change the history. thanks President Obama.

  4. Yes… A strong civil society can change the history. thanks President Obama.

  5. Aahh … the King's Speech.

    Or should i say, the Assassin – in – Chief's ?

    But one common sense question doesn't strike you, i can see.

    How does it become established for an American President to make these almost institutionalized Cairo speeches ?

    Is that part of the world his fiefdom ?

  6. In his Cairo speech Obama gives the peoples of the Middle East an earful on democracy & the way of nonviolence.

    But for the dictatorships they're fighting, he gives the BIGGEST FOREIGN ARMS DEAL IN HISTORY.

    $ 60 BILLION in arms to Saudi Arabia, last year.

    This year he's topping that to $ 70 bill … in arms sales to Bahrain ( oh, yes, that same Bahrain ! ) & its Gulf Cooperation Council.

    By 2015 it'll be 80 bill.

    & what exactly does he give the democracy bashers ?

    Weapons systems.

    Browning machine guns.

    Advanced targetting systems for armored vehicles.

    KC – 130 aircraft.

    Technical support for F / A 18 attack helicopters.

    Hellfire missiles.

    Chinook troop transport helicopters & other hitech equipment.

    Advanced rocket systems & tactical veicles.

    Guided missiles.

    Antiship cruise missiles.

    Jet engines.

    Advanced bombs, advanced smart bombs.

    C – 17 military transport aircraft.

    Apache attack helicopters.

    What does Bahrain get ?

    The democracy / peaceful path demagoguery for the Shias …..
    & air – to -air missiles & mobile misile systems for the ruthless al Khalifas.

    & Palestinians ? What do they get ?

    They … they are not even mentioned among the Middle Eastern peoples who need freedom & assistance to reach democracy.

    Instead, Obama gives them israel's demand …. that they MUST be demilitarized.

  7. Aahh … the King’s Speech.

    Or should i say, the Assassin – in – Chief’s ?

    But one common sense question doesn’t strike you, i can see.

    How does it become established for an American President to make these almost institutionalized Cairo speeches ?

    Is that part of the world his fiefdom ?

  8. In his Cairo speech Obama gives the peoples of the Middle East an earful on democracy & the way of nonviolence.

    But for the dictatorships they’re fighting, he gives the BIGGEST FOREIGN ARMS DEAL IN HISTORY.

    $ 60 BILLION in arms to Saudi Arabia, last year.

    This year he’s topping that to $ 70 bill … in arms sales to Bahrain ( oh, yes, that same Bahrain ! ) & its Gulf Cooperation Council.

    By 2015 it’ll be 80 bill.

    & what exactly does he give the democracy bashers ?

    Weapons systems.

    Browning machine guns.

    Advanced targetting systems for armored vehicles.

    KC – 130 aircraft.

    Technical support for F / A 18 attack helicopters.

    Hellfire missiles.

    Chinook troop transport helicopters & other hitech equipment.

    Advanced rocket systems & tactical veicles.

    Guided missiles.

    Antiship cruise missiles.

    Jet engines.

    Advanced bombs, advanced smart bombs.

    C – 17 military transport aircraft.

    Apache attack helicopters.

    What does Bahrain get ?

    The democracy / peaceful path demagoguery for the Shias …..
    & air – to -air missiles & mobile misile systems for the ruthless al Khalifas.

    & Palestinians ? What do they get ?

    They … they are not even mentioned among the Middle Eastern peoples who need freedom & assistance to reach democracy.

    Instead, Obama gives them israel’s demand …. that they MUST be demilitarized.

  9. John Meirsheimer says it best about this speech.

    That Obama's now a prisoner of his own old policies.

    So he can't formulate a new.

    & that, say i, is because he's a climber, a politician.

    No statesman, & definitely no leader.

    The worst he's done is to forbid the Palestinians from going to the UN come September to garner the world's support for statehood.

    & he's put any future state for them under the strictures of nonmilitarization.

    A state, that is, that will not be able to defend its own sovereignty.

  10. John Meirsheimer says it best about this speech.

    That Obama’s now a prisoner of his own old policies.

    So he can’t formulate a new.

    & that, say i, is because he’s a climber, a politician.

    No statesman, & definitely no leader.

    The worst he’s done is to forbid the Palestinians from going to the UN come September to garner the world’s support for statehood.

    & he’s put any future state for them under the strictures of nonmilitarization.

    A state, that is, that will not be able to defend its own sovereignty.

  11. Obama pandered to his pocketbook…AIPAC. We have become the United States of Israel.

  12. Obama pandered to his pocketbook…AIPAC. We have become the United States of Israel.