Al Queda

This week on Thursday, May 26, 2011, the president will address in a major speech the historical developments in the Middle East, and the opportunities for peace in the region. In the past six months, there has been remarkable protests, political turmoil, a struggle for economic equality, and major unrest. Many citizens in the different countries have been injured, some killed, and others thrown into jail.

For the past three decades, the U.S. strategy for achieving Mideast peace has relied on cooperating with some of the most undemocratic leaders in the region. It has been extremely difficult to determine when a country was our friend and when they were our enemy. When President Obama visited Cairo for his June 2009 speech, the now-deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was on good terms with America.

Many viewed the selection of Egypt to host the president’s speech as an American honor to the Egyptian dictator. Throughout the Middle East region, many former U.S. presidents supported many of the dictators. This support appeared to be a contradiction in American policy and American core values.

The upheaval in the region in the last six months is raising many questions on American core beliefs on

Middle East dictators

democracy. There is a democracy movement in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, and Syria, and it appears the U.S. is on the wrong side of the fence. It will be important in President’s Obama Mideast speech, that he brings clarity to America’s position on democracy, economic equality, and human rights.

Former President George Bush

The U.S. has a terrible history of past administrations’ funding, supporting, and arming some of the most repressive governments in the region. In 2003, President George Bush acknowledged the truth about American policy in the region. He said, “sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe, because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty.”

When Present Obama took office he put together a peace envoy under the leadership of former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, with the goal to bring stability and peace to the region. Senator George Mitchell announced his resignation this week, and the envoy failed to find an effective strategy and make the smallest amount of progress.

President Obama has been very vocal about peace with Israel and the Palestinians, but there have been no concrete agreements. Instead there have been escalations in violence, and NATO is leading a military intervention in Libya. As the U.S. looks to develop a clear strategy in the region, the president in his speech should address the problems head on.

President Obama in Cairo Egypt

The president should admit some of the past mistakes of the different administrations, and acknowledge it is time to reassess our policies. There is no way that our country can continue to support authoritative governments and leaders, who wage war on their own people.

One speech will not change the Middle East’s viewpoint of America’s policy in the region. The killing of Bin Laden will not stop the radicalism and anger of the youth. But honesty, truthfulness and practicing what we preach is a movement in the right direction.

For too long economic interest guided American policy in the Middle East, and the core values of democracy was part of sideshow. If America is to be respected as a global leader, it must be on the right side of change. As repressive regimes fall, our country must be a proponent of peace, with democracy being the end-product.