tv [untitled] CSPAN June 5, 2009 11:30am-12:00pm EDT
these are human rights, and we will support them everywhere. guest: it was obviously to the muslim audience, but also to the american audience. he was clearly thinking that people back in the united states will be saying, "why is he doing this? why is he benching the united states?" they want to explain that democracy is in the best interest of the united states in that part of the world. obviously, what he said in that regard is nothing new. the bush a been a station, despite all of its failings and the region, have talked about about see a great deal.
we take you to the speech that condoleeza rice made in cairo, seeing more or less the same thing. the thing with the president is that he goes to the region at a time when there is actually great interest in the democratic debate. skepticism about the democracy project in the wake of all the chaos that followed the 2003 invasion of iraq. they want democracy. they are a little bit skeptical about it. the overriding concern was the overriding concern that people had in the arab and muslim world. that is the israel/palestine issue. host: we're getting reaction to the president's speech. the numbers are on the bottom of the screen. you can also send us an e-mail
or a tweet. "and the moderate element of the muslims effectively address the extreme element to bring about change on the ground?" guest: the issue of extremism is a real issue. having said that, sitting in the united states or in europe or anywhere else outside of the muslim world, when you hear about -- what you hear about constantly is extremism. the reality of the situation is that the vast majority of people in the muslim world from morocco to indonesia, where president barack obama spent part of his childhood, their overriding concern is that it just want to lead a decent, normal life, just like people in the united states or europe or anywhere else.
there is that fringe that is basically directly tied to these entrenched political problems that we keep talking about, whether they are home grown like the issue of lack of human rights and democratic practice, or they are connected to outside forces. take the invasion of iraq in 2003 as an example or afghanistan, which basically produced 9/11. we know that afghanistan, and during the soviet occupation, the americans played a very important role in working with the afghans to actually defeat the soviet occupation. once the soviet occupation was defeated, the americans cut loose and left. host: good morning. welcome to the program. caller: good morning. i was glad to see president
obama speak, but i'm concerned that the message did not heard back here in the united states. one of the earlier caller was saying that she did not like barack obama because she thought he had a muslim part. it seems to me like we still do not get it over here that these are people like our fellow christians that have extremists as well. i got to know a muslim working for the audit department and he was a wonderful gentleman. he just had a different faith in may. i think we need to bridge the gap between understanding what muslims are about. guest: the caller is absolutely correct. the issue of terrorism exists in every faith. it has existed in every phase, including christianity in various phases of history. in fact, even more recently, if
you look at what happened in the issue of northern ireland in recent decades, one thing that always raises my concern -- that is how the issue of israel /palestine has fed into a discourse that basically goes to say that you have jews and you have christians on the one hand and then you have muslims on the other hand. president obama did talk about this in his speech yesterday. there are a lot of christian minorities. throughout islamic history, the jews played a very important part in muslim culture and civilization that tends to be discarded. especially when we talk about israel and palestine. all we hear within that discourse is that muslims hate
jews and judeo-christian heritage forces muslim heritage. the reality of it is much more complex than that. the reality is that is long, at various point in history, was a lot more accommodating to jews than christianity was, certainly in the 19th and the 20th century in europe, given the holocaust that actually took place there. host: our guest is the washington bureau chief for al jazeera arabic, abderrahim foukara. he also worked for wgbh in boston. thought want to share with you one of the many editorials. this one is from "the wall street journal. a one of the points is that hanging over all of this, the question of iran and how to deal with it.
then this point that if mr. obama is serious about stopping to iran, he has to do a couple of steps that i outlined. guest: the issue of iran is interesting. the way that the president handled it in his speech yesterday -- obviously, it caused some waves in the arab and muslim world. there are basically two trends, if you will, in the middle east about the issue of iran there are people who see iran's attempts to acquire a nuclear capability as potentially leading to iran acquiring a nuclear weapon. they're very nervous about that. a nuclear iran, they feel, will
definitely destabilize the middle east. that school of thought exists more in the official circles in the middle east, in egypt and saudi arabia, some of the gulf countries. among the populace, it is different feeling. among the populace, they see is real cause nuclear capability -- israel's nuclear capability as the real threat. the president alluded to a nuclear-free world. when he talked specifically about the danger that iran poses in this area, without mentioning israel by name, i think he rubbed some people in the muslim world the wrong way. host: good morning. caller: good morning. just commenting on the previous discussion about the iran issue
and nuclear arms, i think in a lot of ways, the iranian issue -- while it is a real issue, it is a diversion, the same way that the iraq war was a diversion away from dealing with terrorism. posted -- focusing so much on iran acquiring nuclear weapons has ignored the russian stockpiles, which are far more of a threat of terrorist getting their hands on a multitude of weapons from the former soviet union. what i call to mention, as a strong obama supporter, my real fear, given his muslim background was that it would create a political environment for any real attempt for addressing the issues. it would be undermined. i was very pleased when obama
emphasized the settlement issue. while it may appear to sound just like rhetoric, given the political gymnastics and treacherous waters of american politics involving this issue, given the recent trends in american politics, just merely saying out loud addressing this issue is a major act in itself. guest: it seems to me that president obama has a cogent system of thought when it comes to dealing with the issues of the middle east. he intrinsically sees a destabilize middle east as undermining the interests of the united states. obviously, navigating some very treacherous waters.
as he made very obvious in his speech yesterday, he wants all parties involved to do their part. we heard some very new things in what the president said. the caller mentioned the issue of settlements. obviously, as far as the speech was concerned, there was not a great deal that was new from what the president had already said. what the administration has been saying is that, the israelis have reacted to the president's demand for settlement activity to be halted by saying that they would not actually halt it in the way that he is calling on them to do. what the administration is saying is that this is just the beginning of the conversation and the beginning of the process. let's give it time and let's give him time.
let's see how we actually lives up to what he says in the speech. the second very important thing in my mind that he said yesterday in the speech is when he talked about how moamas. ever since the latest war in gaza, hamas has been a focal point in terms of achieving a solution. the previous administration always described hamas as a terrorist organization. what we heard as new is a recognition from president barack obama that regardless of the epithet that you attach to hamas, it has a following. he acknowledge that it had a palestinian following. he wants to work with that. he obviously wants hamas to recognize the existence of
israel and recognize previous agreements achieved with the israelis by the palestinians. the fact that he has not rejected hamas and out wright as a terrorist organization, i think indicates that he wants to take the issue in a different direction. although the conventional wisdom is that the proof of the pudding is in the eating, i think the man does seem to be very serious about what he wants to achieve. not because he loves the palestinians or the israelis, but he says that he has america's best interest at heart. he sees a resolution of that contract -- the conflict. host: can president obama really bridge the gap?
do the people have to? guest: the israelis and the palestinians, obviously, have a very major role to play since they are basically the main people concerned with this. nothing that is going to happen between the israelis and palestinians is going to happen outside of the american context. the united states is obviously a very close ally of israel. it has always supported israel very strongly. it has always sought the best interest of israel materially and morally, the united states is supporting the israeli side. president obama is saying that he also wants to support the palestinians, morally and materially. materially.
without the united states in one way or another, morley, physically, historically, one way or the other -- without the united states, i do not think we could expect anything to happen to be israelis and palestinians. but their role is important. i think that is what he stressed in his speech in cairo. host: if you just joined us, our guest is the washington bureau chief for al jazeera. our next call is vincent, joining us from ohio on the phone. thank you. good morning.
caller: my question is, if the middle east did not have any oil, if there was no oil in the middle east, do you think the united states would be so invasive in a worrying about what we call human rights in another country? mai basic, it is that we have not addressed " we have seen. e united states. some people in the united states, we say that the muslims are terrorists. is in one man's terrorist another man's freedom fighter? when you allow israel to be able to do whatever they choose to do and to allow the palestinians not to have their own
sovereignty, if it was reversed the other way, we would be, it is terrible. i feel that the united states should come clean and say that the arabs have basically been a tribal people. they have had battles with the jews since the beginning of time. they will continue to have battles. why don't we be honest and say that the only reason we're there is because of fuel? the united states, if it does not need any fuel any more, we will see the truth of it. it is a shame. we should mind our business. when we say we really care about human rights, why do we trade with china? why do we go to saudi arabia? it is a shame what we do to the muslims. host: let me jump in on two points. did the president not address that issue of nuclear weapons
and also trying to solve -- to develop long-term peace? caller: absolutely not. president obama went there and was speaking to these people like children. who is the united states -- where we -- where did we get the audacity to go to other countries and dictate who can defend themselves, who can do this? we do not have that right. who put us in charge? regular americans shake their heads and say, who are we? we do not have the right to dictate these answers. if israel has military capabilities, who are we to say other countries do not? it is hypocrisy. if the middle east did not have any valuable oil, do you think we would really care? i would like him to answer that. thank you. guest: the issue of oil is
obviously very important. it is very important -- is a very important factor behind the involvement of the united states and other western powers in that part of the world. there is one phrase that the color used. that is tribal. the arabs have always been at the crossroads of human civilization. this is a major civilization. it has failed in modern times to produce the kind of results that would make of it a self sustaining, flourishing civilization. the president mentioned this in his speech yesterday. this is a very important part
of human civilization. with oil or without ol, people have always been interested in that part of the world, the middle east. there is one thing that i agree with the caller on. that is, why think it is a wonderful thing that the president of the united states has decided to actually go to cairo and deliver his speech to the muslim world from there and to the rest of the world. i think the policy part that he talked about. it is a little weird that 1 billion muslims, as he said in his speech, are sitting watching his speech, almost trying to find salvation in the speech of an american president addressing
them from cairo. they could do a lot more than wait for the president of a foreign power to come and deliver a speech to them about what should and what should not be done. he talked about scientific and education and how the united states would help them to achieve that, which is all laudable on the part of the president. i am not blaming the president himself. i am blaming the failings of the muslim world where you have 1 billion people, the inheritors of a grand civilization, waiting for someone to give them reassurance out of cairo host: this is barking quite a dialogue. another viewer is saying that president obama did not recruit people like hillary just for rhetoric. obama is serious about peace in he has almost four years to get it done. good morning to you. caller: bid morning.
i do not have that many things to say. i watched a documentary a couple of years ago. it was done by an american. he was talking about -- i guess the previous caller had never studied anthropology. these people were civilized. i am really sorry to hear him describe it as tribal. this documentarian interviewed a lot of people. it seemed that the general consensus among arab people is that they are at ground zero and their cultures have been flattened. i was interested in any -- and
the remark that your guest made about waiting for someone to come and deliver them. i think we have given too much unconditional support to israel. host: would you agree or disagree? guest: i would to a certain extent. the western powers do shoulder a large part of the responsibility for what is going on in some parts of the middle east. take the invasion of iraq, 2003. this is something that the president addressed in his speech. he did not apologize for it. he basically said that it was a war of choice. the outside world does have that major part of the responsibility.
when he talked about iran -- that was really interesting. he talked a lot about muslim civilization. when he talked about iran, he only talked about iran in the context of conflict. he did not talk about iran in a civilization of context. iran has a grand past civilization. the manifestations of it, you can still see today in iran anin culture. there's always going to be a debate as to how much the responsibility of the failings of the muslim world that the moslem world itself shoulders and how much the outside world shoulders. in the case of the israeli/palestinian issue, the way i look at it is this way.
you had a series of pogroms in eastern europe and then you have the holocaust for in the west tried to find some sort of grand historical compromise with judaism whereby a homeland for the jewish people is established in palestine. i think what the president -- these are very treacherous waters -- what the president is trying to do directly or indirectly is try to support that part of the debate about israel and palestine that says it is time now for the west to try to find a grand, historical compromise with islam and the muslim world by restoring some of the rights that the palestinians have lost when they
lost their land and their country in 1948. host: the president did talk about the horrors of a concentration camp. you can watch all of the president's events in cairo, egypt online. the president's news conference with german chancellor and also tomorrow, the events at normandy. the president's speech in cairo will read-share-air. joe is next. caller: good morning. i keep hearing -- first of, i think the president did the right thing. i think he delivered a very good speech. i am pleased that he spoke to a
majority of people in the united states. i have a problem hearing that extremist muslims are a very small minority amount of people there. i do not see that they're making any money. i want to know how they are getting funded. they do not seem to be underfunded. guest: someone out there is funding networks laich al qaeda. there is no doubt about it. we did say at the outset that there are a lot of extremists in the arab and muslim world. we also said that muslims in
number over 1 billion people. the greatest majority of muslims -- they just want to lead a peaceful life. they want to look after their families and their children the same that people here in the west want to do. when you have a tax of one kind or another in pakistan or in afghanistan or in iraq, obviously, that grabs attention. it grabs the attention of the media. it becomes the focal point of coverage. by becoming the focal point of coverage, the entire muslim region is suddenly seen through the prism of extremism and terrorism. the reality of it is -- i do not
have any numbers for how many extremists exist in any faith, but the reality of it is any faith, the majority of its adherents are people who just want to lead a peaceful life in a peaceful existence. host: dianne from new hampshire is saying that any consolatory language directed toward the muslim community would have been greeted with skepticism and derision by the right in this country? guest: it would have been greeted by derision -- greeted with derision by the right in this country. it has been greeted with derision by the right in the muslim world. that is something that was to be expected. if you hear the voices of what some muslims are saying about some muslims are saying about th