It was reported that Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the father of Haitian Independence, used to say “eti?” [what are you saying?] anytime he did not have or did not want to give an immediate answer. Taking time to think before making any statement is a cautious habit wise politicians sometimes cultivate. Dessalines himself often talk in “daki” a variation of the Haitian language well understood by the people but foreign to the educated citizens.
President Barak Obama did not grow-up in an African environment, however, his Kenyan father’s genes are certainly vibrant in his oratories that communicate conciliatory messages while provoking varied interpretations. Far from being ambiguous, the very clarity of his talks enable divers interesting people to view themselves not from his point of view, but from theirs. It is like all of them were looking at their images in the same clear lake and observing varied reflections from the water.
In a commentary entitled, “Obama’s Cairo speech was potent in what it did not say”, Ghassan Rubeiz wrote: “The outcome of the speech was mixed; it both provoked and comforted. Obama’s speech was more provocative in what it signified than in what it said. What was not said was more potent than what was said”. It takes talent indeed to achieve that, but more importantly, it requires scholarly knowledge and personal assurance for such performance.
Rubeiz added: “” The speech addressed America’s rationale for its extensive military presence in the Middle East and Afghanistan, the growing Iranian threat, the worsening Arab-Israeli conflict and the dysfunctional governance of Arab regimes. The speech satisfied moderate Middle Easterners for its reconciliatory tone when it came to Islam and Iran, and for its caution on Israel’s settlements. In the US, the talk pleased liberal democrats for its success in enhancing their nation’s image abroad”. Nevertheless, some Palestinians complained that by rejecting new settlements, Obama had accepted existing Israeli settlements. At home in the United States, there were Americans who did not appreciate their president’s apologies to Muslims.
The importance of a message can be appreciated by the level and number of discussions it provokes. In just four months in office, President Obama has delivered that many outstanding speeches, and he has elevated his new message in Cairo to a level that makes ones wonder if he will be able to deliver another one as both inspirational and controversial. Although the president has a lot of eclectic concerns in his plate, he seems to consider them as the compelling peaces of an immense puzzle.
Sometimes, however, it may not be easy to find or shape, as easily or rapidly as anticipated, the right piece for the existing space. During a campaign, the candidate spoke his mind and made honest promises. The chief of State, regardless his honest heart, has to contend with many different individual personalities within the institutions that formed the constitutional components of the U. S. government. As powerful as his position may seem, besides vetoes and fiats, he must constantly take into consideration the consultative process that must prevail in a democratic society. Thus, time becomes an intrinsic factor needed to discuss, convince and accommodate toward a form of consensus.
To resume Obama’s dilemma Rubeiz wrote: “The president is facing a rapid decline in the economy, an accelerating national debt, an erosion in the value of the dollar and rising unemployment. He is concerned about the insecurity in Iraq, the deepening of the war in Afghanistan, the instability in Pakistan, the growing power of Iran, the rigidity of a hard-line Israeli leadership and the resilience of Islamic resistance in Lebanon, Gaza and Afghanistan”.
And in conclusion: “For some in the Jewish community, Cairo brought back the “Hussein factor” in Obama. For some in the Muslim community Obama was a personification of a Judeo-Christian political alliance. But for most people, Obama started a much-needed conversation about tolerance and world peace”.
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