On His First Anniversary as President...

…on his way to Egypt, he was asked what he would say about the "authoritarian" nature of the Egyptian regime. That was kind of an understatement: Egypt is a brutal, harsh dictatorship. Obama's response was something about how he doesn't like to use labels for "folks." When a politician uses the word "folks," you wait for the next horror that's coming along. Obama said that he wouldn't call Mubarak authoritarian. He's a person who brings stability and does good, and he is our friend. (Chomsky, 2010)

Has Obama made any progress on the Israel-Palestine issue?
Obama said that we are now in a position where things can really be done because there are constructive proposals on the table. He singled out the Arab League Plan and said that it was a good basis for proceeding. … when the press asked whether Obama would do anything if Israel continues to expand settlements, his spokesperson said no; it was purely symbolic. He said that we wouldn't do what George Bush, Sr. did. He [George H. W. Bush] imposed very minor penalties if Israel continued to expand settlements. Bush withheld loan guarantees to the extent that Israel used the funds for settlement expansion. Obama said that we won't go as far as Bush, Sr., that the statements now are purely symbolic. That's telling Benjamin Netanyahu to do whatever he likes. That's a wink. We say "stop expanding settlements," but we wink to say they can go ahead and do it. (Chomsky, 2010)

Chomsky, N. (2010). A President's Report Card: Obama's First Year as President an Interview with Noam Chomsky. Harvard International Review, 32(1), 56+. Retrieved April 21, 2011, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5042649097

Obama and Bush Encounter

"The country's first black president, he started his day in Chicago, dropping daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, seven, at school with a kiss, before hitting the gym.

Obama has been to the White House before. Four years ago, he and other members of the Senate were invited for breakfast with Bush. The two men shook hands and then, according to Obama, Bush turned to an aide "who squirted a big dollop of hand sanitiser in the president's hand". Bush then offered some to Obama, who recalled: "Not wanting to seem unhygienic, I took a squirt.""

Work Cited:
"OBAMA IN THE HOUSE; He's All Smiles.But Means Business." The Mirror (London, England) 11 Nov. 2008: 8.

USA Not Officially Christian Nation

U.S. Is Not an Officially 'Christian Nation,' Obama Says during Overseas Visit.
During his first overseas tour since being elected, President Barack Obama took time out to remind Americans and the rest of the world that the United States is not an officially Christian nation.

Speaking at a media event in Turkey April 6, Obama remarked, "I've said before that one of the great strengths of the United States is--although as I mentioned we have a very large Christian population--we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation, or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values."

Not long after that, Obama went on to praise the concept of "a secular country that is respectful of religious freedom, respectful of rule of law, respectful of freedom, upholding these values and being willing to stand up for them in the international stage."
Obama noted that modern Turkey also honors secular values. The remarks were interpreted as a way to assure the Muslim world that the United States, while strongly opposing all forms of terrorism abroad, does not seek a confrontation with Islam.
Not surprisingly, Religious Right activists were outraged.
Gary Bauer sent a message to supporters of his group, American Values, asserting, "The last time I checked, the pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock were Christians, not Muslims. Our Founding Fathers were inspired by the Bible, not the Koran."
Fox News Channel recruited two Republican leaders to blast Obama for the comments--and to significantly distort what he said.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has been pandering to the Religious Right lately, appeared on Sean Hannity's program and said, "[Obama] went to Turkey, and I think was fundamentally misleading about the nature of America. We are not a secular country."
Later in the program, GOP operative Karl Rove spouted off, "Yeah, look, America is a nation built on faith."

Work Cited
"U.S. Is Not an Officially 'Christian Nation, ' Obama Says during Overseas Visit." Church & State May 2009: 21.

Plan on Iraq Political Campaign or Platform of Government

By contrast with Richardson's, Kucinich's, and Edwards's stated views in the debates, Obama and Clinton envisioned a larger American presence. In the September 26 debate, the senator from Illinois said that the first thing he would do if elected would be "to call together the Joint Chiefs of Staff and initiate a phased redeployment.? I would immediately begin that process. We would get combat troops out of Iraq." The only troops that would remain, Obama said, would be those needed to protect U.S. bases, the U.S. embassy, and U.S. civilians, as well as "to engage in counterterrorism activities in Iraq." (Bostdorff)

As he had in the pre-primary debates, Obama continued to stress the need for diplomacy. He emphasized how he would send "a signal to the Iraqis that we are serious, and prompt the Shias, the Sunni and the Kurds to actually come together and negotiate."176 Furthermore, Obama said that he wanted to get the United States "out of Iraq so that we can refocus our attention on building the networks and alliances that are required to reduce terrorism around the world."

Like Richardson, Obama also pointed to the situation in Iraq as a reason why he wanted "to elevate diplomacy, so that it is part of our arsenal to serve the American people's interests and to keep us safe."178 Obama's pattern of emphasizing diplomacy more than the other candidates was consistent with his pre-primary debate performance, but it also served to underscore the importance of words to his leadership, an association that Clinton would attempt to use to her advantage. (Bostdorff)

Work Cited
Bostdorff, Denise M. "Judgment, Experience, and Leadership: Candidate Debates on the Iraq War in the 2008 Presidential Primaries." Rhetoric & Public Affairs12.2 (2009): 223+.

"An African Solution Solving the Crisis of Failed States" and Obama

What United States President Barack Obama said in his July 2009 speech in Accra, Ghana, while remarkably accurate, was not new. In fact, his message confirms what some of us have been saying for decades, best summarized in his words as:

"Africa's future is up to Africans ... Development depends upon good governance. That is the ingredient which has been missing ... That is the change that can unlock Africa's potential ... a responsibility that can only be met by Africans." Africa's destiny lies in her own hands and the solutions to her myriad problems lie in Africa itself--not inside the corridors of the World Bank or the inner sanctum of the Oval Office or the Kremlin. Moreover, Africa's salvation lies in returning to and building upon its own indigenous institutions and heritage. (Ayittey)

Work Cited
Ayittey, George B.N. "An African Solution Solving the Crisis of Failed States: George B.N. Ayittey Is a Distinguished Economist at American University and President of the Free Africa Foundation. He Is the Author of Africa Unchained." Harvard International Review 31.3 (2009): 24+

Human Interconnection

In his discussion with the Sun-Times interviewer, Obama said that his "politics are informed by a belief that we're all connected." He continued:

"I can give religious expression to that. I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper, we are all children of God. Or I can express it in secular terms. But the basic premise remains the same.

Obama claims to understand at least a version of this teaching. When pressed by Brooks to describe what he extracted from Niebuhr's texts, Obama said it was "the compelling idea" that serious evil exists in the world "and hardship and pain. And we should be humble and modest in our belief that we can eliminate those things. But we shouldn't use that as an excuse for cynicism and inaction. I take away ... the sense that we have to make these efforts knowing they are hard, and not swinging from naive idealism to bitter realism."

Work Cited:
Julian, Liam. "Niebuhr and Obama." Policy Review (2009): 19+.

War in Iraq and Nuclear Test in North Korea

(In Feb., 2009, U.S. President Obama said that most U.S. forces would be withdrawn from Iraq by Aug., 2010.) The agreements were seen as strengthening Prime Minister Maliki and further undermining Moktada al-Sadr, and in the Jan., 2009, provincial elections, Maliki's coalition emerged as the strongest political grouping. In June, Iraqi forces assumed responsibility for security in urban areas; the process had begun in January.("Iraq")

Work Cited
"Iraq." The Columbia Encyclopedia. 6th ed. 2009.

Obama said that, in response to the nuclear test, the United States and its four partners in the regional talks - China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea - "have all come to the same conclusion: North Korea will not find security and respect through threats and illegal weapons."

Moscow and Beijing issued their own condemnatory statements immediately after the test. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said May 26 that China "resolutely opposed" the test and that, in carrying it out, North Korea had "ignored [the] universal opposition of the international community."(Crail)
Crail, Peter. "N. Korean Nuclear Test Prompts Global Rebuke." Arms Control Today June 2009: 27+.