The Executive, the Magistrate, and the Maverick
7. Walking and Chewing Gum at the Same Time: Responding to the Arab Spring in Egypt
7 Walking and Chewing Gum at the Same Time: Responding to the Arab Spring in Egypt
President Obama initially laid out his vision for the Middle East in June of 2009. Speaking at Cairo University, Obama (2009b) highlighted the ongoing tension between the West, notably the US, and Islam, and explained how the distrust between the two cultures had increasingly empowered violent extremists and fueled a cycle of mutual suspicion and discord. In an attempt to redefine America’s relationship with the world’s Muslim communities, particularly in the Middle East, Obama called for a new relationship based upon common interests and reciprocal respect. While acknowledging that both cultures could learn from each other, the president also emphasized the need for political reforms in the region that assured that all individuals had access to universal human rights – e.g., freedom of expression, access to political process, confidence in rule of law, a fair judicial system, government free from corruption, and freedom to live as one chose. Accordingly, Obama made it clear that governments must respect the will of the people:
You must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy. (Obama, 2009b)
Similar calls for political reform in the Middle East were echoed...
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