29 April 2009

Two different perspectives

Asad al-Islam at http://majahden.com/vb/

"In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate...

"After Star Wars, Obama Invents New War Terminologies

"Praise be to God, and peace and prayers be upon the messenger of God, his family, and companions.

"Anyone who lived among and interacted with the beastly and arrogant American people will know that their verbal expressions full of cursing and foul words. They are a people who are not good at speaking, regardless of how well they decorate their speeches. What really distinguishes US foreign policy, since it was established by Henry Kissinger, is the manipulation of words serve the greed of their leaders. They killed two million Vietnamese in the name of 'war against Communism,' and did the same thing in Nicaragua in the mid 80's in the name of 'freedom and democracy.' Their successor Obama is following in their footsteps. He is continuing the US war against Islam and Muslims, but lies to them and attempts to trick them by beautifying his words.

"The era of the despicable Bush was known for terminologies resembling the saying 'open sesame' to anyone who wanted to approach the White House, such as 'war on terrorism,' 'Islamo-fascism,' 'Islamic extremism' etc. These terms brought woe upon all the US. The war that was associated with these terms drained their powers, and displaced and starved them. On top of all that, the American is on the top of the wanted list anytime his filthy feet touch Muslim land. What was the result of that drunk's term? Imaginary profits gained by war companies such as Halliburton (the second house of Dick Cheney), and oil companies like Chevron, which honored 'Candy Rice' (former member of its board of directors) by naming one of its petroleum carriers after her. This is just a simple example of the 'conflict of interest' (as they call it in their administrative laws) inside the governing body of the United (but near separated) States. The rich are the decision makers and the executive team of the Federal Government. As for their people (the people of Coca-Cola and McDonald's, the people of adultery and gayness): Those who did not lose their houses to the mortgage crisis eventually lost their savings due to the collapse of banks and the economic crisis. Those who did not lose a son or brother were eventually killed by the mujahidin. Some lost their jobs at General Motors, where the mujahidin contributed to its bankruptcy. The best of them visits a psychiatrist three times a week, and a doctor purchased a weapon yesterday because fighting over bread is on the horizon.

"When the new administration felt the weight of the burden left by Bush, when it realized the signs of the collapse of empires that are surfacing in the US, it sought help from the 'think tanks.' They turned to a report released by the Anti-Terrorism Center on 14 March 2008 entitled Words that Work and Words that Don't: A Guide to Counterterrorism Communication, published by the expert Steven Emerson (who rose to fame when he accused 'Islamic terrorism' of blowing up the FBI headquarters in Oklahoma City on 19 April 1995, which was carried out by extreme rightist Timothy McVeigh). This report included many recommendations related to reconsidering the content of the US President's speech on the war on terrorism in an attempt to eliminate some terminologies (such as "open sesame"), which tarnished the image of the US in the Islamic world. Some of the important recommendations are:

"'Do not invoke Islam: Although Al-Qa'ida exploits religious sentiments and tries to use religion to justify its actions, we should treat it as an illegitimate political organization, both terrorist and criminal.'

"'Do not harp on Muslim identity: Avoid labeling everything 'Muslim.' It reinforces the 'US versus Islam' framework that Al-Qa'ida promotes. Be specific (Egyptian, Pakistani) and descriptive (South Asian youth, Arab opinion leaders), where possible.'

"'Avoid offensive terminology: We are communicating with, not confronting, our audiences. Do not insult or confuse them with pejorative terms such as 'Islamo-fascism,' which are considered offensive by many Muslims.'

"'Avoid the term 'caliphate,' which has positive connotations for Muslims, but is used to describe the goal of Al-Qa'ida and associated groups. The best description of what they really want to create is a global totalitarian state.'

"'Never use the terms 'jihadist' or 'mujahidin' in conversation to describe the terrorists. A mujahid, a holy warrior, is a positive characterization in the context of a just war. In Arabic, jihad means 'striving in the path of God' and is used in many contexts beyond warfare. Calling our enemies jihadists and their movement global jihad unintentionally legitimizes their actions.'

"The report also addressed avoiding phrases such as 'We do not hate Islam,' because the word 'hate' is the only word that will remain in the minds of those listening. Because the US Administration blindly trusts such reports, it began implementing everything in it. Hilary Clinton was the first to play her role in this play, which is aimed at misleading Muslims. This old woman stated that the US will abandon using 'global war against terrorism' in her speech about war on Islam. When asked why this decision is being made, she replied by stating it was the obvious and did not give a convincing answer. Why would she? She is only a button that can be pushed, nothing more. This was followed by Michelle Sison, the US ambassador to Lebanon, who stated to Al-Nahar net [Lebanese newspaper] on 3 April 2009 that: 'The new administration will use the phrase peace in the Middle East instead of peace process.' As for Obama, he announced from Turkey on 6 April 2009 that 'the US is not at war with Islam and will never be in a war with Islam.' Does the change in speech imply a change in policy? No not at all. No one is better at proving this other than their own.

"On 4 April 2009, the Washington Post addressed this subject in a column entitled New Words for War. This is what was mentioned in the article: 'Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton recently confirmed that the Obama administration has dropped the phrase 'global war on terror.' She didn't say why. 'I think that speaks for itself, obviously' was her elaboration. That raised a few obvious questions: Does the new administration believe the fight against Al-Qa'ida and other extreme Islamist groups does not amount to war? Is the threat to the US homeland less, in President Obama's estimation, than that perceived by President George W. Bush? And does the United States still expect its NATO military allies to join in this newly unnamed, speaks-for-itself endeavor?' It added: 'It seems the 'global war on terrorism' will continue, only without the name. There is some logic to that: Mr. Obama is acutely aware of the damage done by the Bush administration to American prestige in Europe and throughout the Muslim world, and he has spoken much this week of a fresh start. As many have pointed out, the old term was awkward- 'terror' describes a means of war, not an enemy. The challenge for the new administration is to describe that enemy and the campaign against it in ways that convey its urgency to both Americans and foreign audiences - and that unites rather than polarizes. In that respect, Mr. Obama made a good start in Strasbourg.'

"Peter Baker wrote in an article entitled The Words Have Changed, but Have the Policies?, published by International Herald Tribune on 2 April 2009. He wrote: 'They may be sending 21,000 more troops to Afghanistan, as much as Mr. Bush did to Iraq, but it is not a 'surge.' They may still be holding people captured on the battlefield at the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, but they are no longer 'enemy combatants.' They may be carrying the fight to Al-Qa'ida as their predecessors did, but they are no longer waging a 'war on terror.' He added: 'Indeed, for all the shifting words, Mr. Obama has left the bulk of Mr. Bush's national security architecture intact so far. He has made no move to revise the Patriot Act or the eavesdropping program. He has ordered Guantánamo to be closed in a year, but has not turned loose all the prisoners. The troop buildup in Afghanistan resembles the one Mr. Bush ordered in Iraq two years ago.'

"O brothers in religion, are there any doubts or confusions left after the confessions made by their own people? Republicans and Democrats share the same goal, except Republicans use the stick to achieve it and Democrats use the carrot. The actions of the White House slaves amount to nothing more than throwing ashes into the eyes of the Muslims in an attempt to hypnotize them in order to accomplish their goals. They have been exposed, however, by the will of God. Praise be to Him. The question that comes to mind is: What caused the Obama plan to receive such objections from some Americans who tried to expose it? The ruling entity in the US has caused the entire country to become divided. We have clear evidence to support that, but this is not the place to discuss it. Our last supplication is praise be to God, Lord of all creation."

Markus Ziener: "Moving Coolly Through the Crisis?" from Duesseldorf Handelsblatt at http://www.handelsblatt.com/

In the crisis, Americans appreciate, above all, one thing: leadership. And this is what Obama shows. Regardless of whether you agree or not with all the decisions Obama made in his first 100 days, the 44th President is meeting the challenges. He does not shun decisions.

If Obama wants to know what the people's concerns are, he talks to them directly, even now as President. When he headed for a townhall meeting just a few weeks after he had taken office, the political classes shook their heads -- perhaps he has not noticed that the election campaign is over, they stated sarcastically. Actually, however, the critics did not understand that this President works differently than many of his predecessors. From the beginning, his secret to success was to talk with the people, and not just about them.

A new style will not be enough. At the end of a presidency, success is measured by facts. In a few years from now, the Americans will judge Obama, above all, on whether he succeeded or not in overcoming the crisis. It is still much too early to answer that question.

It is clear that the financial and economic crisis can only be overcome if the President manages to change his country's psychology. It is not by chance that Obama often mentions Ronald Reagan: the republican from California was a symbol of confidence, a confidence that was so contagious that it enabled the United States to get out of the economic doldrums and the trauma from the Vietnam War. Because he achieved this, the Americans forgave him quite a few mistakes.

Obama may hope for a similar outcome. Despite record unemployment and first setbacks in foreign policy, a large majority of Americans believe that the country is on the right path. In fact, the surprising thing about the first three months is that the big difficulties with which the United States is struggling do not seem to affect this President much. Obama seems to be "cool" -- calm and collected.

This is why his "Grand Design" - the strategy to tackle all problems simultaneously - is working. Obama has understood that health care reform, climate change and the economic crisis belong together. The weaknesses of the US social system are a burden on the companies, and so is the lack of adjustment to new global environmental standards. Hence, Obama does not only want to patch potholes. He wants to overlay the streets with a new asphalt surface.

Since his large-scale project for America will tie him to domestic policy for quite some time, Obama needs support from his allies in terms of foreign policy. This is why he extends his hand to partners, admits that the United States has made mistakes, and shows that he is able to listen. This is also part of the overall concept.

Does Obama always strike the right balance? Some goals may sound naïve -- for example, the noble goal of a nuclear weapons free world. Substantial progress in disarmament would already be success enough. But that is not the point. The point is the direction. It is the right one.

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