Obama on Complex Interdependence

June 4, 2009

From his speech in Cairo today: “Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners to it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; our progress must be shared…”

Ignoring some of the cheesy themes in the first 10 minutes (the Arabs invented algebra!), it was a ground-breaking and honest speech.  As others have noted, however, it did not provide new or detailed solutions to problems in the Middle East.  My favourite commentary about the speech was actually printed before the speech: an excellent column by FT commentator Gideon Rachman, who pointed out that while Obama is a “soft power” president, he faces “hard power” problems.

But given that Obama gets the soft power messages so consistently right on (I was reminded of his speech on race while listening today), one is hopeful that he will apply the same rational thoughtfulness to the hard power problems the US government faces.


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