Obama’s Interview with Al Arabiya

By | January 27, 2009

President Obama granted his very first one-on-one interview as a president to a media house that broadcasts out of Dubai. The White House Blog titles the post that announces the interview ‘President to Muslim World: “Americans are not your enemy”‘, which clearly shows that the interview was meant as an interview, or an address, if you will, to the Muslim world. The interview has him talking about having Muslim relatives, and about having lived in Muslim countries. The Economists Democracy in America blog thinks it was a good move for the president to have granted his first interview to a foreign media house, because an American media outfit would have probably asked Rob Blagojevich-related questions. That is true, but I also think that the interview is part of his defense and foreign policies. He did the symbolic thing of making sure that his first call as a president was made to Mahmoud Abass; that, I think, was an apology of sorts for having kept quiet during the recent Gaza bombings. Now, he has made his first interview one in which he talks directly to the Muslim world, and one in which he makes them understand that he does not see them as the enemy.

Responses
Responses to the interview have varied widely, from ‘I am so proud to be American’ to ‘Bush protected Israel, Obama is going to destroy her’. (You can check the Al Arabiya website for some of the comments.) My impression is that this is a really smart man, who understands that so much is tied to a peaceful relationship with the Muslim world. I think this interview is a great blow to Al Qaeda, and that it makes a case for extremist Islam a lot harder to sell. But, in case anybody thinks this is a sign of weakness, just remember that this same man who is saying that America is not the enemy of the Muslim world commands the best-equipped Army in the world.

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  • Kiran

    Yes Olu … this is a nice development. Expected though, I would say. Obama has kept his word. In early Dec he had told in an interview with Chicago Tribune: “I think we’ve got a unique opportunity to reboot America’s image around the world and also in the Muslim world in particular,” and promised an “unrelenting” desire to “create a relationship of mutual respect and partnership in countries and with peoples of good will who want their citizens and ours to prosper together.”

    During his campaign he alwys told that his administration would open talks with Iran. Now, he has sent right signals to Iran (if your are willing, we are willing too).

    Of course, it is a daunting and long-term task. But, without effort, there would be no room for positive results.

    Kiran

  • Kiran

    Yes Olu … this is a nice development. Expected though, I would say. Obama has kept his word. In early Dec he had told in an interview with Chicago Tribune: “I think we’ve got a unique opportunity to reboot America’s image around the world and also in the Muslim world in particular,” and promised an “unrelenting” desire to “create a relationship of mutual respect and partnership in countries and with peoples of good will who want their citizens and ours to prosper together.”

    During his campaign he alwys told that his administration would open talks with Iran. Now, he has sent right signals to Iran (if your are willing, we are willing too).

    Of course, it is a daunting and long-term task. But, without effort, there would be no room for positive results.

    Kiran

  • caught some moments of this interview last night on CNN, and I agree with the last poster that it does help somewhat in pushing forward his agenda to “repair” the image of America in the eyes of the moderate Muslim world. however, i guess i started to tune out when he he rehashed his same canned lines about the situation in Gaza that started not long after he was formally elected. american “image repair” hardly does anything for preventing the loss of Palestinian lives in the event of future Israeli attacks on civilians 🙁

  • caught some moments of this interview last night on CNN, and I agree with the last poster that it does help somewhat in pushing forward his agenda to “repair” the image of America in the eyes of the moderate Muslim world. however, i guess i started to tune out when he he rehashed his same canned lines about the situation in Gaza that started not long after he was formally elected. american “image repair” hardly does anything for preventing the loss of Palestinian lives in the event of future Israeli attacks on civilians 🙁

  • Nneoma,

    I totally agree that no amount of image repair can replace the lost lives. What Israel did was horrible, and I would have loved Obama to have said something about it. But I guess sometimes what is sensible is politically dangerous. I can only hope that his silence would help pave the way for an administration that would not be seen to be partisan right from the beginning. I can only hope that somehow, that helps.

    But, just so it is clear, nothing can compensate for the pains and death that Israel’s use of disproportionate force caused. Nothing.

  • Nneoma,

    I totally agree that no amount of image repair can replace the lost lives. What Israel did was horrible, and I would have loved Obama to have said something about it. But I guess sometimes what is sensible is politically dangerous. I can only hope that his silence would help pave the way for an administration that would not be seen to be partisan right from the beginning. I can only hope that somehow, that helps.

    But, just so it is clear, nothing can compensate for the pains and death that Israel’s use of disproportionate force caused. Nothing.