The President's bridge-building is welcome. But it will take more than words to erase the damage done by his predecessor
A Good Comment
By Patrick Cockburn
"....And as much as Mr Obama would like to treat the Iraq war as ancient history, the US is still struggling to extricate itself. The very fact that the Democratic President had to arrive in Iraq by surprise, as George Bush and Tony Blair invariably did, for security reasons, shows that the conflict is refusing to go away......
Mr Obama's effort to make a U-turn in American policy towards the Islamic world will ultimately depend on how far he changes US policy towards Israel and the Palestinians, the occupation of Iraq, the confrontation with Iran and Syria and the war in Afghanistan.
The Iranians, for instance, note that despite Mr Obama's friendlier approach to them the US official in Washington in charge of implementing sanctions against them is a hold-over from the Bush administration.....
The success of political Islam over secular nationalism in the Arab world has largely been because of the former's ability to resist the enemies of the community or the state. In Egypt the nationalism of Nasser was discredited by humiliating defeat in the 1967 war with Israel. In Iraq, for all his military bravado, Saddam Hussein was a notably disastrous military leader. All the military regimes espousing nationalism and secularism in the Arab world began or ended up turning into corrupt and brutal autocracies. In contrast, political Islam has been able to go some way towards delivering its promises of defending the community......
Mr Obama's aim of ending the confrontation between the US and the Muslim world is both easier and more difficult than it looks. It is easier because the confrontation is not primarily over religion or clashing cultures. But the confrontation is over real issues such as the fate of the Palestinians, the future of Iraq and the control of Afghanistan. And even if Mr Obama wanted to change the US political relationship with Israel, it is not clear that he has any more political strength at home than George Bush had to do so.
If these concrete issues are not resolved then America's confrontation with the Muslim world may remain as confrontational and difficult as it was under Mr Bush."