Al-Ahram Weekly Online   11 - 17 June 2009
Issue No. 951
Reader's corner
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Readers' corner

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Die first

Sir-- Personally, I don't expect peace in the Middle East anytime soon but it won't be because Obama had the wrong approach ('Obama reneges on change' Al-Ahram Weekly 4-10 June). It will result from old tired opinion- makers and leaders who refuse to seek solutions because they depend on the same old worn out ideas.

Old ideas die hard and probably won't disappear until a generation or two of us are dead and gone. Israel's free ride is not finally over because this young president said the word "occupation" when referring to Palestinian lands. But if newer generations start to look with new eyes, maybe, just maybe, the future can be better for all. I'm personally pleased that a leader like Obama today understands that truth and expressed it clearly in Cairo.

Tarek Gurmen

Comic book world

Sir-- Certainly, words alone will not bring peace to the Middle East or persuade America's enemies to lay down their arms. However, it's hard to blame Obama for actually trying to make things better. You can't really find fault in anything he said in Cairo. To his credit, Obama showed some nuance in his thinking and showed respect for the intelligence of his audience. In talking about US interference in the democratic process in Iran in 1953, which few American officials are keen to admit or even care to remember, Obama admitted the US is not always right. He also sought to give parts of the region a break when he mentioned colonialism, taking us off the hook for the way we think and act.

But there is a naiveté about making assumptions about a region based on a utopian, unrealistic, comic book understanding of the world. Up until last Thursday there was something called the "clash of civilisations" and it was still there the day after.

Julie Longly

Words don't change history

Sir-- Words matter and Obama is great with words. What we heard was Obama's "we can change" by talking honestly about our differences, respecting each other and finding the common ground on which we can solve problems.

The belief that honest dialogue can solve hard issues can be found in all the major speeches Obama has given, Cairo included. However, it is also pure idealism: the conviction that ideas, openly expressed, change history. They don't and probably never will.

Brad Park

Powerless president

Sir-- While I do believe there are differences between the Obama administration and the Bush regime, in terms of tactics, I do not believe a US president has the power to bring members or representatives of the US ruling classes to justice in any serious shape or form, unless there are major upheavals taking place in the society. Let's face it. Most of the time, the people cannot even put corrupt, criminal cops on trial for shooting innocent black men on the streets of this country. Criminal politicians and government officials? Forget it -- unless of course there is significant pressure from below.

Andres Kargar
New York

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