One's personality is both a composition and reflection, but if I have to choose one of them, I will choose reflection as the "self" is more important to me than "me". One's composition may change, walking across the cultural landscapes and climbing the social ladder but one's self is tied to one's reflections. The fun part is that reflections are not bound to "Time-Space" barriers ( it is not time-space) and respective mental constructs, which have grown so thick over ages, that they had reduced the image of humans to Sisyphus, rolling different sizes of boulders on hills of different heights.… As the name of this Blog indicates, knols are my perspectives on topics of interests, sweet/bitter experiences or just doodling :)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

President Obama’s speech to Muslims and clash of civilizations

President Barack Obama's speech at Cairo University to Muslims world at June 4th 2009 was composed mainly of following parts:

1- Acknowledgment of clash of civilizations
2- Announcements of ending clash of civilizations policy
3- Acknowledging of Muslim’s role in development of world in pre-modernity period.
4- Asking for a cooperation to counter the sources of clash of civilizations
5- Acknowledging seven sources of clash of civilizations to be faced cooperatively,

Though it is against my habit to quote directly a speech but here I quote directly some paragraphs of speech due to its historical importance. I am not declaring it, historical because it is President Obama’s speech to Muslim world but because it is the announcement of the President of USA to end clash of civilizations.

By collapse of Soviet Union in 1991 the cold war as well as bipolarity of cold war world ended. The USA stood as a sole superpower so there was a need of a new world order. Political theorists tried hard to map out post soviet world. Samuel Huntington published an article by title of “Clash of civilizations?” in 1993 in Foreign affairs magazine. This article started a non-ending debates as well as suspicion of “others civilizations” and us against them attitudes. The emergence of neo-conservatism in President Bush’s period and the global war of terror proved clash of civilizations as a foreign policy of USA. Neo-conservatism is defined in the Wikipedia as, “Neoconservatism is a political philosophy that emerged in the United States of America, and which supports using American economic and military power to bring liberalism, democracy, and human rights to other countries.”

In 1996, Professor Joseph Nye, proposed the projection of smart power which is adopted by Obama administration as is evident of use of this term several times during the Senate confirmation hearing of Hillary Clinton for position of Secretary of State on January 13, 2009. Adopting smart power as a foreign policy was to disband clash of civilizations as it is impossible to project soft power while clashing with civilizations. Though clash of civilizations attracted a widespread attentions across of the globe but it didn’t worked as a paradigm and especially as a foreign policy, as it led the world generally and USA, especially to an economic depressions that took too much before healing to normal. The global economic depression was as significant event as collapse of Soviet Union as it let the Nation States, global institutions as well as political thinkers to realign themselves and to not look only from windows of desires but also from windows of ground realities.

The speech of President Obama to Muslim world is the announcement of ending clash of civilizations and the projection of smart power. Let’s see what the time will judge on the role of smart power in post clash of civilizations world.

I will give headings to parts of speech that acknowledges aspects of clash of civilizations,
1- Acknowledgment of clash of civilizations

“We meet at a time of great tension between the United States and Muslims around the world, tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of coexistence and cooperation but also conflict and religious wars.

More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims and a Cold War in which Muslim majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.

Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims. The attacks of September 11, 2001, and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians have led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and western countries but also to human rights.”

2- Announcements of ending clash of civilizations policy

“Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire. The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known. We were born out of revolution against an empire.

We are shaped by every culture. Drawn from every end of the Earth, and dedicated to a simple concept, E pluribus unum: Out of many, one. Assimilation of Clash of civilizations?”

3- Acknowledging of Muslim’s role in development of world in pre-modernity period

“It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra, our magnetic compass and tools of navigation, our mastery of pens and printing, our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires, timeless poetry and cherished music, elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation. And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.”

4- Asking for a cooperation to counter the sources of clash of civilizations.
... let there be no doubt, Islam is a part of America. And I believe that America holds within her the truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share common aspirations: to live in peace and security, to get an education and to work with dignity, to love our families, our communities, and our God. These things we share. This is the hope of all humanity.”

Of course, recognizing our common humanity is only the beginning of our task. Words alone cannot meet the needs of our people. These needs will be met only if we act boldly in the years ahead. And if we understand that the challenges we face are shared and our failure to meet them will hurt us all.

For we have learned from recent experience that when a financial system weakens in one country, prosperity is hurt everywhere. When a new flu infects one human being, all are at risk. When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon, the risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations.

When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains, people are endangered across an ocean. When innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective conscience.

That is what it means to share this world in the 21st Century. That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings. This is a difficult responsibility to embrace, for human history has often been a record of nations and tribes, and, yes, religions subjugating one another in pursuit of their own interests.

Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners to it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership, our progress must be shared.

5- Acknowledging seven sources of clash of civilizations to be faced cooperatively
Now, that does not mean we should ignore sources of tension. Indeed, it suggests the opposite. We must face these tensions squarely. And so, in that spirit, let me speak as clearly and as plainly as I can about some specific issues that I believe we must finally confront together.

1- The first issue that we have to confront is violent extremism in all its forms.
2- The second major source of tension that we need to discuss is the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world.
3- The third source of tension is our shared interest in the rights and responsibilities of nations on nuclear weapons.
4- The fourth issue that I will address is democracy.
5- The fifth issue that we must address together is religious freedom.
6- The sixth issue — the sixth issue that I want to address is women's rights.
7- Finally, I want to discuss economic development and opportunity.


1- Text of Obama's speech to Muslims, 2009, Associated press:
2- Clash of civilizations? Samuel P Huntington, 1993, Foreign Affairs,
3- Neoconservatism, Wikipedia,
4- Smart Power, Wikipedia,

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