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First Interview: Obama Tells Arab World US Wants to Be Friends

Granting his first official interview as president to Al-Arabiya, a major Dubai-based Arab network, Barack Obama reached out to the Muslim world telling them "the Americans are not your enemy."

Some highlights from yesterday's interview include:

  • On the US role in negotiating peace between Palestine and Israel: And so what I told him [Mideast envoy George Mitchell] is start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating. . . . Ultimately, we cannot tell either the Israelis or the Palestinians what's best for them. They're going to have to make some decisions. But I do believe that the moment is ripe for both sides to realize that the path that they are on is one that is not going to result in prosperity and security for their people.
  • On the notion of a Palestinian state: I think it is possible for us to see a Palestinian state — I'm not going to put a time frame on it — that is contiguous, that allows freedom of movement for its people, that allows for trade with other countries, that allows the creation of businesses and commerce so that people have a better life.
  • On al-Qaeda: They seem nervous . . . what that tells me is that their ideas are bankrupt. There's no actions that they've taken that say a child in the Muslim world is getting a better education because of them, or has better healthcare because of them.
  • On US relations with the Muslim world: My job is to communicate to the American people that the Muslim world is filled with extraordinary people who simply want to live their lives and see their children live better lives. My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy.

Are you surprised that Obama chose an Arab network for his first TV interview?


Shadowdamage Shadowdamage 8 years
Quoting: "Not saying we should wipe out their culture, of course not, but just put up some Targets and Starbucks and let it sort itself out." ...I'm speechless. No..I'm not. Don't you see how arrogant that sounds? "Oh, make them all like us and it will go away." How about if that got turned on you and tomorrow you found yourself 12 years old and orphaned in a dusty Palestinian neighbourhood, dodging bullets, wondering if your days are numbered, staring at your (now blown-up) home asking yourself how you are going to make it to tomorrow? NO. It doesn't work this way. This is not YOUR world, no more than it was Marie Antoinette's before she sported the new headless look after so famously declaring "let them eat cake". "Mindless and irresponsible spending on crap you don't need in the first place" as an economic model isn't even working for America right now, and yet you would prescribe the "bow before the almighty creditcard" way of life to other countries as a means by which to solve problems with them instead of actually seeing how to resolve them diplomatically and constructively. So, if you can't blow them up, build malls?!?!?!? I thought Obama's speech was carefully worded, and hardly on "their side". I feel that the point he made about Al Qaeda's not doing anything to help education or healthcare was pointedly directed at those who may need to hear it most. Disillusioned, frustrated but otherwise ordinary citizens of the Arab world who have families and children and jobs and worries and bills just like EVERY ONE OF YOU DO. Ideological wars are only about entire countries if you insist on making it so, and if you do, then war is what you will always have, but I am beginning to think some of you prefer it that way.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
"Christians whine about people hating them no CHRISTIANS HATE EACH OTHER" that is the comment I said was "bashing" although i should call it "over generalizing" instead. And i dont "bash" obama because people "bashed" Bush, if i have anything to say about our president, I do it out of pure skepticism and constructive criticism. And NYARA, I dont do the name calling thing about other posters on here unless its in private and I need to vent. and saying something is "idiotic" or "ignorant" or "you are bashing" isnt name calling just FYI.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
"there is a difference between ligitimate criticism of a president and his policies and just straight up nit picking. Its an interview, not a bill." The difference is in the eye of the beholder. You didn't like Bush, so everything he did was wrong. I don't disagree with everything Obama said in this speach, but I don't understand how he thinks it will help stop terrorism. The Muslim communities who openly converse with Americans know that we want to be their friends, and those terrorists that have been brainwashed to hate "American Values" won't listen.
mydiadem mydiadem 8 years
I agree Steph, there is a difference between ligitimate criticism of a president and his policies and just straight up nit picking. Its an interview, not a bill. And if you want to see how some other people on Sugar view Muslims I recommend looking at the posts about this interview on Conservative Sugar and Liberal Sugar.
PinkNC PinkNC 8 years
I didn't have a problem with the interview. Peace in many matters needs to start ASAP.
indielove indielove 8 years
"it seemed to take me way longer to figure out how to convert words into LOLspeak than it did to actually just type out the words." Exactly. I'd rather take the extra 3 seconds to get it right. I do use OMG and LOL, like you said, they're basically acronyms. I agree, steph. Most arguments I've heard against Obama are extremely petty and seemingly comes from mere disdain(what's he's done that's so horrible, I'll never know) for the guy, nothing else.
stephley stephley 8 years
Of course, what was picked apart with Bush often involved questions of criminal activity (Guantanamo), malfeasance (New Orleans), inappropriate political behavior (politicizing the Justice Department), warmongering (Iraq, Afghanistan, 'bring it on')... When people understand the difference between legitimate criticism and inane sniping (Obama's not a citizen, he's a socialist, he's a secret Muslim) I'll pay attention to what they have to say.
skb9850 skb9850 8 years
And really folks, several of you on this thread picked apart every little thing that President Bush did. Does it really surprise you to see it reflected back? Disclaimer: I'm not saying such behavior isn't childish.
skb9850 skb9850 8 years
Time will tell whether this interview by President Obama does any good or not. I personally don't think you can reason with terrorists so I think the terrorists will disregard the message. Hopefully it is effective with the rest of the Muslim world.
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
OMG and LOL are okay to me, because they're just acronyms. I take more issue with the re-spelling of words, I guess.
zeze zeze 8 years
I'll admit, when I text, I LOL like the best of them. Some of it is a lot more convenient, its when it gets too creative that it becomes annoying. Things like "g2g" "ur l8" "omg" are pretty fast compared to texting the whole thing (while ur driving...)
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
That LOLspeak bothers me as well, Indie--the only place I want to see that is on I Can Has Cheezburger. It just seems lazy. I never even saw the point of using it while texting, since it seemed to take me way longer to figure out how to convert words into LOLspeak than it did to actually just type out the words.
indielove indielove 8 years
'Bcuz'...'cos'...UGH. Horrid.
zeze zeze 8 years
Bcuz its kewl! Duh!
indielove indielove 8 years
Hahaha. Sorry em! But seriously(slightly off-topic), why do people write like that? Putting '2day' instead of 'today' or 'dat' instead of 'that'...doesn't it take more brain power to write words in such a nonsensical way than the proper way?
em1282 em1282 8 years
:rotfl: indie. That example just hurt my brain. It's like a lolcat. "I CAN HAZ STATUEZ?"
wren1 wren1 8 years
Listening to Obama's whole interview, he did such a great job at reaching out and trying to break down the wall. It was so different than Bush's "Liberate" stance. This seemed more about working together, rather than necessarily doing things the American way.
indielove indielove 8 years
I, for one, think Catholicism bashing is extremely lame. Most of the people who bash the CC usually have the most misguided information out there. Example: "OMG LIEK DO U GUYZ REALLI PRAY 2 STATUEZ?!?! DAT IZ NAWT RITE! EVERY1 SHUD PRAY 2 GOD." :rollseyes: Can't tell you how many times I've heard that. It can be insanely frustrating ,to say the least.
nyaradzom2001 nyaradzom2001 8 years
apparently that was m when i said us christians are the ones always bashing each other like how people mock mormons and talk crap about the catholic church, mydia
mydiadem mydiadem 8 years
I would like someone to point out what comment was Christian bashing please. There is all this talk of Christian bashing and I haven't seen it at all. What am I missing?
zeze zeze 8 years
oh pleaseeeee are we really arguing that being a Muslim and Christian in the United States is viewed the same way? Seriously? Come on people. As for the interview, it is a nice and fresh approach, I will support it until it I know it is ineffective/harmful - so far other methods in the opposite direction have not worked and hurt us more than they helped, hopefully this will be the approach that works.
Meike Meike 8 years
I applaud this move by Obama. I definitely wish for a world when people from all faiths will just get along or at the very least live and let live.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
Here Here Katie Kat Here Here well said.
Katie-Kat398180 Katie-Kat398180 8 years
lol...this is so mature...essentially it comes down to "I'm bashing your president because you bashed mine." What ever happened to people respecting the office of president? I'm not saying we all have to blindly accept everything the president does. I didn't agree with everything Bush did (not by far) and I doubt I'll agree with everything Obama does, but that's besides the point. These men were elected as president of this country and there is some level of respect that comes with that. They're not stupid and they both deserve respect. Bush is no longer in office. I don't understand why people are still so intent on dragging out the bashing. And I can't see why people who were so mad at the Bush bashing are acting just like those who did it by bashing Obama. Free speech is allowed, yes. But with freedom comes responsibility. Show some respect.
indielove indielove 8 years
Just a touch.;)
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