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Posted by on Dec 10, 2008 in Politics, Religion | 3 comments

Obama Plans Major Address in Islamic Capital

Obama plans to give what he called “a major address” in an “Islamic capital” soon after taking office. Would he do it in Baghdad maybe? Somewhere in Saudi Arabia? Either way, it will do a lot of good. The whole clash-of-civilizations theory was in many ways a self-fulfilling prophecy. It didn’t have to be that way, even after September 11. But Bush’s with-us-or-against us approach drove a wedge between moderates in both cultures.

Not that Obama will capitulate on terrorism. The speech will probably sound similar to some he has given before—start with some pretty tough talk about hunting down terrorists before moving on to the lofty rhetoric about the similarities that should unite us all against extremists, etc.

But at the least it shows that Obama has the courage to attempt to be a transformational president. Bush in many ways played it safe. He could have reached out more to Muslim parts of the world and introduced some ambiguity into his doctrine, but it would be easier to simply drive the wedge and go to war. At least he thought so. It was supposed to be a cakewalk, after all. Saddam Hussein would fall, democracy would sprout up and then it would spread throughout the rest of the Middle East like an expanding bed of flowers.

Obama’s speech isn’t going to lead to a domino effect of democratization and moderation in the Middle East any more than invading Iraq did. But it’s a good first step, and you can bet the entire world will be watching.

Cross-posted at Ablogistan.