Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hillary on the Thawing Arab...Winter???

Here are from the remarks of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State, at the Gala Dinner Celebrating the U.S.-Islamic World Forum Hosted by the Brookings Institution and the State of Qatar, Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium,
Washington, DC, April 12, 2011:-

First, her introduction -

Good evening, everyone. And let me thank you, Strobe, for that introduction and for your many years of friendship. It is such a pleasure for me to join you at this first U.S.-Islamic World Forum held in America. His Highness the Amir and the people of Qatar have generously hosted the Forum for years. And as Strobe said, I was honored to be a guest in Doha last year. And now I am delighted to welcome you to Washington. I want to thank Martin Indyk, Ken Pollack and the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution for keeping this event going and growing. And I want to acknowledge all my colleagues in the diplomatic corps who are here tonight, including the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Qatar, the Foreign Minister of Jordan, and the Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

Over the years, the U.S.-Islamic World Forum has offered the chance to celebrate the diverse achievements of Muslims around the world. From Qatar – which is pioneering innovative energy solutions and preparing to host the World Cup – to countries as varied as Turkey, Senegal, Indonesia, and Malaysia, each offering its own model for prosperity and progress.
This Forum also offers a chance to discuss the equally diverse set of challenges we face together – the need to confront violent extremism, the urgency of achieving a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians, the importance of embracing tolerance and universal human rights in all of our communities.

And I am especially proud that this year the Forum is recognizing the contributions of the millions of American Muslims who do so much to make our country strong. As President Obama said in Cairo, “Islam has always been a part of American history,” and every day Americans Muslims are helping to write our story.

I do not need to tell this distinguished audience that we are meeting at an historic time for one region in particular: the Middle East and North Africa. Today, the long Arab winter has begun to thaw. For the first time in decades, there is a real opportunity for lasting change, a real opportunity for people to have their voices heard and their priorities addressed.

What a metaphor to choose: "Arab winter has begun to thaw" in such a hot region.  And then her specific reference to us here -

Now, this raises significant questions for us all:
Will the people and leaders of the Middle East and North Africa pursue a new, more inclusive approach to solving the region’s persistent political, economic, and social challenges? Will they consolidate the progress of recent weeks and address long-denied aspirations for dignity and opportunity?...

...We put partnerships with people, not just governments, at the center of our efforts. The Administration moved quickly to respond to recent events and to affirm the principles that guide our approach...And we start from the understanding that America’s core interests and values have not changed, including our commitment to promote human rights, resolve longstanding conflicts, counter Iran’s threats, and defeat al-Qaida and its extremist allies. This includes renewed pursuit of comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace. The status quo between Palestinians and Israelis is no more sustainable than the political systems that have crumbled in recent months. Neither Israel’s future as a Jewish democratic state nor the legitimate aspirations of Palestinians can be secured without a negotiated two-state solution. And while it is a truism that only the parties themselves can make the hard choices necessary for peace, there is no substitute for continued active American leadership. And the President and I are committed to that.

There are so many platitudes in that speech (and more in her additional remarks I did not include) that it is amazing that a college graduate with such a record of political/public service could mouth them.

But one substantive comment:

to compare the character of Arab governments - depsotic, undemocratic and oppressive - with Israel's rule over portions of its historic homeland not under our full political sovereignty is not only incorrect but nasty.


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