(Source: ABC News This Week with George Stephanopolous)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST: Madam Secretary, thanks very much for doing this.
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I’m glad to see you, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, we were just talking about Cairo, did you ever imagine you’d be here as secretary of state?
CLINTON: Never. (LAUGHTER)
CLINTON: Never crossed my mind. And what an extraordinary honor to be here, especially for this speech today.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The president has a very high-powered team, Vice President Biden, General Jones, Secretary Gates. You’ve got envoys for Iran, Afghanistan, North Korea. How do you fit in?
(LAUGHTER) CLINTON: Well, I&
STEPHANOPOULOS: What is your role, exactly?
Transcript – President Barack Obama Speech at Cairo University – A New Beginning for U.S. – Muslim World Relations
1:10 P.M. (Local)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you very much. Good afternoon. I am honored to be in the timeless city of Cairo, and to be hosted by two remarkable institutions. For over a thousand years, Al-Azhar has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning; and for over a century, Cairo University has been a source of Egypt’s advancement. And together, you represent the harmony between tradition and progress. I’m grateful for your hospitality, and the hospitality of the people of Egypt. And I’m also proud to carry with me the goodwill of the American people, and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country: Assalaamu alaykum. (Applause.)
We meet at a time of great tension between the United States and Muslims around the world — tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of coexistence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.
This is kind of annoying – for it’s total lack of saying anything of any substance:
Readout of The President’s Meeting with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia
President Obama and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia met today and discussed a wide range of issues including Middle East peace, the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, energy, Iran and other matters affecting the region. The President and the King also discussed the President’s upcoming speech to the Muslim world. The President and King pledged to remain in close contact in order to continue to make progress on these and other issues central to the US-Saudi relationship.
This came, “Immediate Release,” for God’s Sake! LMAO. How about if the White House just released the President’s public schedule each day. For the 30 minutes it took some young press aide to sweat over the drivel above and the layers of approval it probably went through, is it really worth it?
Exercises like the one above are not transparency.
Filed under: Barack Obama, Foreign Policy, National Security, Politics
(Source: White House Press Office) 4:02 P.M. EDT
Q Mr. President, welcome to the program.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much.
Q Mr. President, thank you for joining us — that we could join you, in this case. If you want to improve relations with the Muslim world, do you have to change or alter in some way the strong U.S. support for Israel?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I don’t think that we have to change strong U.S. support for Israel. I think that we do have to retain a constant belief in the possibilities of negotiations that will lead to peace, and that that’s going to require, from my view, a two-state solution; that it’s going to require that each side — Israelis and Palestinians — meet their obligations.
I’ve said very clearly to the Israelis both privately and publicly that a freeze on settlements including natural growth is part of those obligations. I’ve said to the Palestinians that their continued progress on security and ending the incitement that I think understandably makes Israelis so concerned — that that has to be — those obligations have to be met.
Full Text: President Barack Obama on National Security, Torture, Guantanamo – National Archives – May 21
These are extraordinary times for our country. We are confronting an historic economic crisis. We are fighting two wars. We face a range of challenges that will define the way that Americans will live in the 21st century. There is no shortage of work to be done, or responsibilities to bear.
And we have begun to make progress. Just this week, we have taken steps to protect American consumers and homeowners, and to reform our system of government contracting so that we better protect our people while spending our money more wisely. The engines of our economy are slowly beginning to turn, and we are working toward historic reform of health care and energy. I welcome the hard work that has been done by the Congress on these and other issues.
In the midst of all these challenges, however, my single most important responsibility as President is to keep the American people safe. That is the first thing that I think about when I wake up in the morning. It is the last thing that I think about when I go to sleep at night.
(Source: White House Press Office)1:21 P.M. EDT
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, listen, I first of all want to thank Prime Minister Netanyahu for making this visit. I think we had a extraordinarily productive series of conversations, not only between the two of us but also at the staff and agency levels.
Obviously this reflects the extraordinary relationship, the special relationship between the United States and Israel. It is a stalwart ally of the United States. We have historical ties, emotional ties. As the only true democracy of the Middle East it is a source of admiration and inspiration for the American people.
(Source: NBC’s Meet the Press)
MR. GREGORY: We’re back. King Abdullah of Jordan spent the last week here in Washington with a full agenda: meeting with the president, the secretary of state, congressional leaders and a full military arrival ceremony at the Pentagon. Before returning to Jordan on Friday, he stopped here at MEET THE PRESS for an exclusive interview.
Your Majesty, welcome back to MEET THE PRESS.
KING ABDULLAH II: Thank you very much.
MR. GREGORY: President Obama is now the third U.S. president that you have worked with. You spent time with him this week and even during the campaign. Tell me your impressions here as he comes upon 100 days in office?
KING ABDULLAH II: Well, I–from I think day one that I, I, I met him, a very impressive man. A lot of depth. A lot of, I think, instinctive understanding of the challenges that the world faces. And obviously I’m here in Washington to talk about relaunching negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, and Israelis and Arabs, and we had a meeting of the minds, very fruitful discussions. And I think he has a clear understanding of, of what the challenges are.
I’m reading David Sanger’s book, The Inheritance. It’s a great read that outlines some of the thorniest foreign policy issues facing the new Obama Administration. It tracks the Bush Administration’s policies or policy vacuums regarding places like North Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Sanger discusses the approximately $10 billion in funds that the U.S. has funneled into Pakistan since 9/11 and the high probability that some of it has probably been used against us, while still more of it has been simply wasted through corruption or in building up Pakistan’s Indian-facing military forces. Over and over during the Bush years, Presidents Pervez Musharaf and Bush publicly proclaimed their mutual admiration. On Bush’s end it was wishful thinking – we need the Pakistanis to help fight the Taliban and al-Qaeda. As for Mr. Musharaf it was all about making and closing every sale, that is, ensuring the steady flow of greenbacks to prop up his ailing government and economy.
Sanger also recounts a steady procession of U.S. military, intelligence and diplomatic officials streaming in and out of Islamabad, sometimes there to deliver strong messages akin to, “We know you can do better with the nutjobs in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas” (also known as the “in” destination for Taliban and terrorists). Musharaf or his generals or ISI spooks would shrug and smile. Sometimes there would be genuine surprise at some intel being brought to them by their American Sugar Daddies. Shortly thereafter there might be a few radical teenagers plucked from a Madrassa and held for a time.
On Friday, David Ignatius writes in the Washington Post from Islamabad chronicling yet another U.S. administration and yet still another military/diplomatic delegation who are now speaking to Musharaf’s successor, Asif Ali Zardari. From Ignatius’ column, it sounds like things haven’t changed much in Pakistan:
Later that day, Zardari met us at his office overlooking the city. He was convincing when he discussed the legacy of his late wife, Benazir Bhutto, who was killed in December 2007 by what he called the “cancer” of Muslim terrorism. But on some major security and intelligence issues, he claimed no knowledge or sought to shift blame to others, and the overall impression was of an accidental president who still has an uncertain grasp on power.
Sanger’s tale of Bush and Musharaf is still fresh in my mind. It sounds like the faces have changed on both sides of this relationship but the reality hasn’t.
The BBC has an excellent story, video and background on President Barack Obama’s speech today in Prague calling for a nuclear weapon-free world.
Does anyone else feel like we’re all getting AIG’d? Lately, it seems like every time Uncle Sam opens his wallet to help out some struggling member of the family, that member of the family forgets to say thank-you. Or, worse yet, it’s like catching a trusted friend or relative stealing from you to go out and get high.
For 1,400 employees of a Chillicothe paper mill, there couldn’t be a worse time to become caught up in an international trade fight.
The plant on S. Paint Street generates $338 million in annual sales of carbonless paper, a sizable chunk of which is bought by Mexican customers.
But just a couple of months after the economic slump sparked layoffs of about 50 people there, a new threat has emerged: a 10 percent tariff slapped on imports of U.S. carbonless paper by the government of Mexico. It’s retaliation for Congress’ shutting down a pilot program allowing Mexican trucks to operate in the United States.
The Dispatch further reports that the Mexican carbonless paper tariff is just one of many affecting about $2.4 billion in U.S. commercial activity with Mexico. Just last week, President Barack Obama talked about the $700 million in aid the U.S. is pledging to Mexico this year to help their central government in its fight against drug cartels.
When do we start attaching strings to the public’s money being invested in everything from bank bailouts to foreign countries? Also last week, the Obama Administration announced its support for an aid package to Pakistan that would send $1.5 billion a year there, each year for five years. The same week, we get more confirmation that the Pakistani military intelligence force, ISI, has been aiding and abetting the Taliban and al-Qaeda organizations we’ve been at war with for seven years.
This may sound like the rantings of a guy who wishes we weren’t investing public funds anywhere. Actually, I’m glad we’re amping up our efforts to help the Mexicans, their problems are spilling over into our country. I’m glad we’re willing to help a country like Pakistan, I just don’t want to see more good money go after bad. I want to see accountability and outcomes for the taxpayer money spent here and abroad. I don’t want to give a dime in aid to anyone, any entity or any country who will turn around and bite the hand that feeds. It’s that simple.
My hypersensitivity to government outlays for all manner of bailouts and aid is a direct result of the U.S. financial crisis. If you count “guarantees” made by the Federal Reserve, we are trillions of dollars down the rabbit hole with Wall Street and their ilk. In all of this economic mess can anyone point to one politician or captain of finance who has taken accountability?
If we’re not creating a new program to keep the well-heeled investors on Wall Street whole, we’re shoveling money at countries like Pakistan and Mexico who give us the back of their hand. This makes me sick as I read about U.S. factory workers getting pink slips.
(Source: New York Times)
Good morning. Today, I am announcing a comprehensive, new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
This marks the conclusion of a careful policy review that I ordered as soon as I took office. My Administration has heard from our military commanders and diplomats. We have consulted with the Afghan and Pakistani governments; with our partners and NATO allies; and with other donors and international organizations. And we have also worked closely with members of Congress here at home. Now, I’d like to speak clearly and candidly to the American people.
This article on the NYT website just adds to the volumes of publicly available information about the ties between Islamic radicals in Afghanistan and Pakistan and the Pakistani military intelligence service, ISI.
It’s really quite incredible that President Barack Obama believes that the Taliban or any other tribal, fundamentalist Islamist can be negotiated with in good faith in this part of the world. These people have been playing one end against the other since the 1980s. The United States is going to be punkd if we do anything other than meet barbarism with force in this region.
If you thought that merely replacing one American president who spent eight years trying to bend the world to his will with one talking the good game of peace and cooperation would get foreign leaders to stop acting crazy you were wrong.
Hugo Chavez, Kim Jong-Il, Ayatollah Khamenei, Vladmir Putin — they’re all still idiots who hate America because we’re America. It doesn’t matter that the American people sent a message to the world with the election of Barack Obama to the presidency. That message could be divined around the world as “Hey, we’re really sorry about the whole Bush-Cheney thing. But check this new guy out, you can work with this new guy …” Instead, we get Putin’s Russia testing the Monroe Doctrine, North Korea taking U.S. journalists hostage, Chavez calling Obama and “ignoramus,” and Iran’s Supreme Leader greeting Obama’s extended hand with the back of his own.
Two of these instances occurred just this weekend. Yesterday, in response to Obama’s conciliatory YouTube message directed at the Iranian People, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had this to say, according to the LA Times:
“We do not have any record of the new U.S. president,” he said in a live television broadcast. “We are observing, watching and judging. If you change, we will also change our behavior. If you do not change, we will be the same nation as 30 years ago.”
The crowd chanted, “God is great! Khamenei is the leader!”
As he spoke, Khamenei glanced cursorily at his notes, suggesting that his words were carefully considered. His remarks were the most detailed and authoritative response by any Iranian leader to several attempts by the Obama administration to reach out to the Islamic Republic.
The White House issued a 3 1/2 -minute video message from Obama early Friday morning greeting the Iranian people and officials on the occasion of the important holiday, acknowledging three decades of strained relations with America and offering a new beginning.
Iranian officials quickly responded by welcoming the address but voicing skepticism about its sincerity. On Saturday, Khamenei recited a list of grievances against the U.S. over the last three decades, including the 1988 downing of an Iranian civilian plane by a U.S. warship in the Persian Gulf, the freezing of Iranian assets, and strong support for Israel and armed Iranian opposition groups.
“They are talking of extending a hand to Iran on the occasion of the New Year and they are congratulating the Iranian people,” he said. “At the same time, they are accusing [Iran] of terrorism and the manufacturing of nuclear weapons.”
And then there’s Chavez. If you want to witness a real hoot, check out The Hugo Chavez Show, a PBS Frontline Documentary. Chavez is this era’s stereotypical Central/South American meglomaniacal, self-absorbed dictator. Today, Chavez unloaded on an American president and it wasn’t GW Bush – from Reuters:
Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez said on Sunday his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama was at best an “ignoramus” for saying the socialist leader exported terrorism and obstructed progress in Latin America.
“He goes and accuses me of exporting terrorism: the least I can say is that he’s a poor ignoramus; he should read and study a little to understand reality,” said Chavez, who heads a group of left-wing Latin American leaders opposed to the U.S. influence in the region.
Chavez said Obama’s comments had made him change his mind about sending a new ambassador to Washington, after he withdrew the previous envoy in a dispute last year with the Bush administration in which he also expelled the U.S. ambassador to Venezuela.
“When I saw Obama saying what he said, I put the decision back in the drawer; let’s wait and see,” Chavez said on his weekly television show, adding he had wanted to send a new ambassador to improve relations with the United States after the departure of George W. Bush as president.
In a January interview with Spanish-language U.S. network Univision, Obama said Chavez had hindered progress in Latin America, accusing him of exporting terrorist activities and supporting Colombian guerrillas.
“My, what ignorance; the real obstacle to development in Latin America has been the empire that you today preside over,” said Chavez, who is a fierce critic of U.S. foreign policy.
In both cases – Iran and Venezuela – you have leaders who are faced with difficult and structural economic problems and who rely on the price of oil being in the $75 per barrel range to make their countries’s economic engines run. Both fancy themselves the leaders of “revolutions.” What they’re most worried about is the next revolution that may sweep them from power. There is also, however, an element of truth in what both leaders say. U.S. meddling in Iranian internal politics in the 1950s led to nearly 30 years of repression under the American-friendly Shah Reza Pahlavi. U.S. government and corporate meddling in the internal state affairs of countries large and small in Central and South America has a storied history. Chavez, largely due to the largess of Venezuela’s oil wealth and his big mouth, is now seen throughout the region as the newest Fidel or Che.
From the time of Jimmy Carter on, the United States has had the chance to set things straight with the developing world, once our covert operations playground. Old habits have been hard to break, though. Just when we put together a good string of time without getting ourselves caught trying to kill some foreign leader or destabilize a country, we do get caught. We won’t – meaning Barack Obama won’t – live this down until U.S. foreign policy delivers on the promise of the extended hand over the long run.
And, oh, by the way. There will be some leaders we won’t be able to deal with because they’re idiots. Chavez and some others fall into this category. Their own power comes before anything else and they’ll lubricate their masses with American hate rhetoric as long as it takes the target off of them.
(Source: White House Press Office)
THE PRESIDENT: Today I want to extend my very best wishes to all who are celebrating Nowruz around the world.
This holiday is both an ancient ritual and a moment of renewal, and I hope that you enjoy this special time of year with friends and family.
In particular, I would like to speak directly to the people and leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Nowruz is just one part of your great and celebrated culture. Over many centuries your art, your music, literature and innovation have made the world a better and more beautiful place.