Posts Tagged ‘George Mitchell’

Obama in Al Arabiya interview: ‘Americans are not your enemy’

January 27, 2009 1 comment

Following closely on his promise, delivered in the inaugural address, to “seek a new way forward” with the Muslim world, President Obama gave his first foreign interview and first interview from the White House to Al Arabiya television. It was broadcast Monday night.

Obama’s interview has caused the spilling of barrels of ink and pixels already–as much for the fact that he gave it to the Dubai-based, Saudi-owned channel as for what he said in it.

Let’s recap some of the highlights from the speech. The president began with a conciliatory tone:

And so what I told [special envoy George Mitchell] is start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating — in the past on some of these issues –and we don’t always know all the factors that are involved. So let’s listen. He’s going to be speaking to all the major parties involved. And he will then report back to me. From there we will formulate a specific response.

He reiterated his prior line on Iran: he attacked Iranian conduct, but still stressed the need to speak directly to Iran (he also delivered the now-requisite preface about the greatness of the Iranian people and the Persian civilization; I find this habit of irrelevant recourse to ancient history annoying, distracting and Orientalist). Read more…