President Obama Delivers Remarks on Events in the Middle East and North Africa

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
May 19, 2011
President Obama Delivers Remarks on the Middle East at the State Department

More:U.S. Policy in the Middle East and North Africa | Video

President Barack Obama delivered a speech on U.S. policy in the Middle East and North Africa at the Department of State on May 19, 2011. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton provided the introductory remarks for President Obama.

Secretary Clinton said, “Mr. President, from your first days in office you have charged us with implementing a bold new approach for America's foreign policy -- a new blueprint for how we advance our values, project our leadership, and strengthen our partnerships. We have seen that in a changing world, America's leadership is more essential than ever, but that we often must lead in new and innovative ways.

“And so, Mr. President, these Foreign Service Officers and these Civil Servants, the men and women of the State Department and USAID, work every day to translate your vision into real results -- results on the ground in nearly every country in the world. That is why the work we have done to provide them with the tools and resources they need to perform their mission is so important. And it's why we need to keep making the case for those resources.

“Because alongside our colleagues in the Defense Department, America's diplomats and development experts of the State Department and USAID are on the front lines of protecting America's security, advancing America's interests, and projecting America's values. As a wave of change continues to sweep across the Middle East and North Africa, they are carrying our diplomacy and development far beyond the embassy walls -- engaging with citizens in the streets and through social networks as they seek to move from protests to politics; with NGOs and businesses working to create new economic opportunities; and with transitional leaders trying to build the institutions of genuine democracy. They represent the best of America, and I am so proud to have them as our face to the world.

“Mr. President, it is fitting that you have chosen to come here to the State Department to speak about the dramatic changes we have witnessed around the world this year.

“Now, on the back wall of this historic Benjamin Franklin Room is a portrait of the leader of Tunis, given as a gift in 1865 by the people of Tunisia in honor of the enduring friendship between our nations at the end of our Civil War. A century and a half later, Tunisians -- and courageous citizens from across the region -- have given the world another gift: a new opening to work together for democracy and dignity, for peace and opportunity. These are the values that made America a great nation, but they do not belong to us alone. They are truly universal. And it is profoundly in our interest that more people in more places claim them as their own.
“This moment belongs to the people of the Middle East and North Africa. They have seized control of their destiny and will make the choices that determine how the future of the region unfolds.

“But, for America, this is a moment that calls out for clear vision, firm principles, and a sophisticated understanding of the indispensable role our country can and must play in the world. Those have been the hallmarks of President Obama's leadership from his first day in office. So, it is with great confidence and faith in our future that I welcome the President of the United States, Barack Obama.”

After Secretary Clinton's remarks, President Obama addressed the audience. He said, “I want to begin by thanking Hillary Clinton, who has traveled so much these last six months that she is approaching a new landmark -- one million frequent flyer miles. I count on Hillary every single day, and I believe that she will go down as one of the finest Secretaries of State in our nation's history.

“The State Department is a fitting venue to mark a new chapter in American diplomacy. For six months, we have witnessed an extraordinary change taking place in the Middle East and North Africa. Square by square, town by town, country by country, the people have risen up to demand their basic human rights. Two leaders have stepped aside. More may follow. And though these countries may be a great distance from our shores, we know that our own future is bound to this region by the forces of economics and security, by history and by faith.

"Today, I want to talk about this change -- the forces that are driving it and how we can respond in a way that advances our values and strengthens our security.

“Now, already, we've done much to shift our foreign policy following a decade defined by two costly conflicts. After years of war in Iraq, we've removed 100,000 American troops and ended our combat mission there. In Afghanistan, we've broken the Taliban's momentum, and this July we will begin to bring our troops home and continue a transition to Afghan lead. And after years of war against al Qaeda and its affiliates, we have dealt al Qaeda a huge blow by killing its leader, Osama bin Laden.

“Bin Laden was no martyr. He was a mass murderer who offered a message of hate -- an insistence that Muslims had to take up arms against the West, and that violence against men, women and children was the only path to change. He rejected democracy and individual rights for Muslims in favor of violent extremism; his agenda focused on what he could destroy -- not what he could build.

“Bin Laden and his murderous vision won some adherents. But even before his death, al Qaeda was losing its struggle for relevance, as the overwhelming majority of people saw that the slaughter of innocents did not answer their cries for a better life. By the time we found bin Laden, al Qaeda's agenda had come to be seen by the vast majority of the region as a dead end, and the people of the Middle East and North Africa had taken their future into their own hands.

“That story of self-determination began six months ago in Tunisia...The story of this revolution, and the ones that followed, should not have come as a surprise. The nations of the Middle East and North Africa won their independence long ago, but in too many places their people did not. In too many countries, power has been concentrated in the hands of a few. In too many countries, a citizen like that young vendor had nowhere to turn -- no honest judiciary to hear his case; no independent media to give him voice; no credible political party to represent his views; no free and fair election where he could choose his leader.

"And this lack of self-determination -- the chance to make your life what you will -- has applied to the region's economy as well. Yes, some nations are blessed with wealth in oil and gas, and that has led to pockets of prosperity. But in a global economy based on knowledge, based on innovation, no development strategy can be based solely upon what comes out of the ground. Nor can people reach their potential when you cannot start a business without paying a bribe.

“In the face of these challenges, too many leaders in the region tried to direct their people's grievances elsewhere. The West was blamed as the source of all ills, a half-century after the end of colonialism. Antagonism toward Israel became the only acceptable outlet for political expression. Divisions of tribe, ethnicity and religious sect were manipulated as a means of holding on to power, or taking it away from somebody else.

“But the events of the past six months show us that strategies of repression and strategies of diversion will not work anymore. Satellite television and the Internet provide a window into the wider world -- a world of astonishing progress in places like India and Indonesia and Brazil. Cell phones and social networks allow young people to connect and organize like never before. And so a new generation has emerged. And their voices tell us that change cannot be denied.

He continued, "...[T]hrough the moral force of nonviolence, the people of the region have achieved more change in six months than terrorists have accomplished in decades.

"Of course, change of this magnitude does not come easily. In our day and age -- a time of 24-hour news cycles and constant communication -- people expect the transformation of the region to be resolved in a matter of weeks. But it will be years before this story reaches its end. Along the way, there will be good days and there will bad days. In some places, change will be swift; in others, gradual. And as we've already seen, calls for change may give way, in some cases, to fierce contests for power.

"The question before us is what role America will play as this story unfolds. For decades, the United States has pursued a set of core interests in the region: countering terrorism and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons; securing the free flow of commerce and safe-guarding the security of the region; standing up for Israel's security and pursuing Arab-Israeli peace.

"We will continue to do these things, with the firm belief that America's interests are not hostile to people's hopes; they're essential to them. We believe that no one benefits from a nuclear arms race in the region, or al Qaeda's brutal attacks. We believe people everywhere would see their economies crippled by a cut-off in energy supplies. As we did in the Gulf War, we will not tolerate aggression across borders, and we will keep our commitments to friends and partners.

“Yet we must acknowledge that a strategy based solely upon the narrow pursuit of these interests will not fill an empty stomach or allow someone to speak their mind. Moreover, failure to speak to the broader aspirations of ordinary people will only feed the suspicion that has festered for years that the United States pursues our interests at their expense. Given that this mistrust runs both ways -- as Americans have been seared by hostage-taking and violent rhetoric and terrorist attacks that have killed thousands of our citizens -- a failure to change our approach threatens a deepening spiral of division between the United States and the Arab world.

“And that's why, two years ago in Cairo, I began to broaden our engagement based upon mutual interests and mutual respect. I believed then -- and I believe now -- that we have a stake not just in the stability of nations, but in the self-determination of individuals. The status quo is not sustainable. Societies held together by fear and repression may offer the illusion of stability for a time, but they are built upon fault lines that will eventually tear asunder.

“So we face a historic opportunity. We have the chance to show that America values the dignity of the street vendor in Tunisia more than the raw power of the dictator. There must be no doubt that the United States of America welcomes change that advances self-determination and opportunity. Yes, there will be perils that accompany this moment of promise. But after decades of accepting the world as it is in the region, we have a chance to pursue the world as it should be.

“Of course, as we do, we must proceed with a sense of humility. It's not America that put people into the streets of Tunis or Cairo -- it was the people themselves who launched these movements, and it's the people themselves that must ultimately determine their outcome.

“Not every country will follow our particular form of representative democracy, and there will be times when our short-term interests don't align perfectly with our long-term vision for the region. But we can, and we will, speak out for a set of core principles -- principles that have guided our response to the events over the past six months:

"The United States opposes the use of violence and repression against the people of the region.

“The United States supports a set of universal rights. And these rights include free speech, the freedom of peaceful assembly, the freedom of religion, equality for men and women under the rule of law, and the right to choose your own leaders -- whether you live in Baghdad or Damascus, Sanaa or Tehran.

“And we support political and economic reform in the Middle East and North Africa that can meet the legitimate aspirations of ordinary people throughout the region.

“Our support for these principles is not a secondary interest. Today I want to make it clear that it is a top priority that must be translated into concrete actions, and supported by all of the diplomatic, economic and strategic tools at our disposal.

“Let me be specific. First, it will be the policy of the United States to promote reform across the region, and to support transitions to democracy. That effort begins in Egypt and Tunisia, where the stakes are high -- as Tunisia was at the vanguard of this democratic wave, and Egypt is both a longstanding partner and the Arab world's largest nation. Both nations can set a strong example through free and fair elections, a vibrant civil society, accountable and effective democratic institutions, and responsible regional leadership. But our support must also extend to nations where transitions have yet to take place.

President Obama continued, "...So in the months ahead, America must use all our influence to encourage reform in the region. Even as we acknowledge that each country is different, we need to speak honestly about the principles that we believe in, with friend and foe alike. Our message is simple: If you take the risks that reform entails, you will have the full support of the United States.

“We must also build on our efforts to broaden our engagement beyond elites, so that we reach the people who will shape the future -- particularly young people. We will continue to make good on the commitments that I made in Cairo -- to build networks of entrepreneurs and expand exchanges in education, to foster cooperation in science and technology, and combat disease. Across the region, we intend to provide assistance to civil society, including those that may not be officially sanctioned, and who speak uncomfortable truths. And we will use the technology to connect with -- and listen to -- the voices of the people.

“For the fact is, real reform does not come at the ballot box alone. Through our efforts we must support those basic rights to speak your mind and access information. We will support open access to the Internet, and the right of journalists to be heard -- whether it's a big news organization or a lone blogger. In the 21st century, information is power, the truth cannot be hidden, and the legitimacy of governments will ultimately depend on active and informed citizens.

“Such open discourse is important even if what is said does not square with our worldview. Let me be clear, America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard, even if we disagree with them. And sometimes we profoundly disagree with them.

“We look forward to working with all who embrace genuine and inclusive democracy. What we will oppose is an attempt by any group to restrict the rights of others, and to hold power through coercion and not consent. Because democracy depends not only on elections, but also strong and accountable institutions, and the respect for the rights of minorities.

“Such tolerance is particularly important when it comes to religion. In Tahrir Square, we heard Egyptians from all walks of life chant, “Muslims, Christians, we are one.” America will work to see that this spirit prevails -- that all faiths are respected, and that bridges are built among them. In a region that was the birthplace of three world religions, intolerance can lead only to suffering and stagnation. And for this season of change to succeed, Coptic Christians must have the right to worship freely in Cairo, just as Shia must never have their mosques destroyed in Bahrain.

“What is true for religious minorities is also true when it comes to the rights of women. History shows that countries are more prosperous and more peaceful when women are empowered. And that's why we will continue to insist that universal rights apply to women as well as men -- by focusing assistance on child and maternal health; by helping women to teach, or start a business; by standing up for the right of women to have their voices heard, and to run for office. The region will never reach its full potential when more than half of its population is prevented from achieving their full potential.

“Now, even as we promote political reform, even as we promote human rights in the region, our efforts can't stop there. So the second way that we must support positive change in the region is through our efforts to advance economic development for nations that are transitioning to democracy.”

President Obama then said, “…The greatest untapped resource in the Middle East and North Africa is the talent of its people. In the recent protests, we see that talent on display, as people harness technology to move the world. It's no coincidence that one of the leaders of Tahrir Square was an executive for Google. That energy now needs to be channeled, in country after country, so that economic growth can solidify the accomplishments of the street. For just as democratic revolutions can be triggered by a lack of individual opportunity, successful democratic transitions depend upon an expansion of growth and broad-based prosperity.

“So, drawing from what we've learned around the world, we think it's important to focus on trade, not just aid; on investment, not just assistance. The goal must be a model in which protectionism gives way to openness, the reigns of commerce pass from the few to the many, and the economy generates jobs for the young. America's support for democracy will therefore be based on ensuring financial stability, promoting reform, and integrating competitive markets with each other and the global economy. And we're going to start with Tunisia and Egypt.

First, we've asked the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to present a plan at next week's G8 summit for what needs to be done to stabilize and modernize the economies of Tunisia and Egypt. Together, we must help them recover from the disruptions of their democratic upheaval, and support the governments that will be elected later this year. And we are urging other countries to help Egypt and Tunisia meet its near-term financial needs.

“Second, we do not want a democratic Egypt to be saddled by the debts of its past. So we will relieve a democratic Egypt of up to $1 billion in debt, and work with our Egyptian partners to invest these resources to foster growth and entrepreneurship. We will help Egypt regain access to markets by guaranteeing $1 billion in borrowing that is needed to finance infrastructure and job creation. And we will help newly democratic governments recover assets that were stolen.

“Third, we're working with Congress to create Enterprise Funds to invest in Tunisia and Egypt. And these will be modeled on funds that supported the transitions in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall. OPIC will soon launch a $2 billion facility to support private investment across the region. And we will work with the allies to refocus the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development so that it provides the same support for democratic transitions and economic modernization in the Middle East and North Africa as it has in Europe.

“Fourth, the United States will launch a comprehensive Trade and Investment Partnership Initiative in the Middle East and North Africa. If you take out oil exports, this entire region of over 400 million people exports roughly the same amount as Switzerland. So we will work with the EU to facilitate more trade within the region, build on existing agreements to promote integration with U.S. and European markets, and open the door for those countries who adopt high standards of reform and trade liberalization to construct a regional trade arrangement. And just as EU membership served as an incentive for reform in Europe, so should the vision of a modern and prosperous economy create a powerful force for reform in the Middle East and North Africa.

“Prosperity also requires tearing down walls that stand in the way of progress -- the corruption of elites who steal from their people; the red tape that stops an idea from becoming a business; the patronage that distributes wealth based on tribe or sect. We will help governments meet international obligations, and invest efforts at anti-corruption -- by working with parliamentarians who are developing reforms, and activists who use technology to increase transparency and hold government accountable. Politics and human rights; economic reform.

"Let me conclude by talking about another cornerstone of our approach to the region, and that relates to the pursuit of peace.

“For decades, the conflict between Israelis and Arabs has cast a shadow over the region. For Israelis, it has meant living with the fear that their children could be blown up on a bus or by rockets fired at their homes, as well as the pain of knowing that other children in the region are taught to hate them. For Palestinians, it has meant suffering the humiliation of occupation, and never living in a nation of their own. Moreover, this conflict has come with a larger cost to the Middle East, as it impedes partnerships that could bring greater security and prosperity and empowerment to ordinary people.

“For over two years, my administration has worked with the parties and the international community to end this conflict, building on decades of work by previous administrations. Yet expectations have gone unmet. Israeli settlement activity continues. Palestinians have walked away from talks. The world looks at a conflict that has grinded on and on and on, and sees nothing but stalemate. Indeed, there are those who argue that with all the change and uncertainty in the region, it is simply not possible to move forward now.

“I disagree. At a time when the people of the Middle East and North Africa are casting off the burdens of the past, the drive for a lasting peace that ends the conflict and resolves all claims is more urgent than ever. That's certainly true for the two parties involved.

“For the Palestinians, efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure. Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won't create an independent state. Palestinian leaders will not achieve peace or prosperity if Hamas insists on a path of terror and rejection. And Palestinians will never realize their independence by denying the right of Israel to exist.

“As for Israel, our friendship is rooted deeply in a shared history and shared values. Our commitment to Israel's security is unshakable. And we will stand against attempts to single it out for criticism in international forums. But precisely because of our friendship, it's important that we tell the truth: The status quo is unsustainable, and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace.

"The fact is, a growing number of Palestinians live west of the Jordan River. Technology will make it harder for Israel to defend itself. A region undergoing profound change will lead to populism in which millions of people -- not just one or two leaders -- must believe peace is possible. The international community is tired of an endless process that never produces an outcome. The dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation.

“Now, ultimately, it is up to the Israelis and Palestinians to take action. No peace can be imposed upon them -- not by the United States; not by anybody else. But endless delay won't make the problem go away. What America and the international community can do is to state frankly what everyone knows -- a lasting peace will involve two states for two peoples: Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people, and the state of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people, each state enjoying self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace.

"So while the core issues of the conflict must be negotiated, the basis of those negotiations is clear: a viable Palestine, a secure Israel. The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their full potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.

“As for security, every state has the right to self-defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself -- by itself -- against any threat. Provisions must also be robust enough to prevent a resurgence of terrorism, to stop the infiltration of weapons, and to provide effective border security. The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized state. And the duration of this transition period must be agreed, and the effectiveness of security arrangements must be demonstrated.

“These principles provide a foundation for negotiations. Palestinians should know the territorial outlines of their state; Israelis should know that their basic security concerns will be met. I'm aware that these steps alone will not resolve the conflict, because two wrenching and emotional issues will remain: the future of Jerusalem, and the fate of Palestinian refugees. But moving forward now on the basis of territory and security provides a foundation to resolve those two issues in a way that is just and fair, and that respects the rights and aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians.

“Now, let me say this: Recognizing that negotiations need to begin with the issues of territory and security does not mean that it will be easy to come back to the table. In particular, the recent announcement of an agreement between Fatah and Hamas raises profound and legitimate questions for Israel: How can one negotiate with a party that has shown itself unwilling to recognize your right to exist? And in the weeks and months to come, Palestinian leaders will have to provide a credible answer to that question. Meanwhile, the United States, our Quartet partners, and the Arab states will need to continue every effort to get beyond the current impasse.

“I recognize how hard this will be. Suspicion and hostility has been passed on for generations, and at times it has hardened. But I'm convinced that the majority of Israelis and Palestinians would rather look to the future than be trapped in the past. We see that spirit in the Israeli father whose son was killed by Hamas, who helped start an organization that brought together Israelis and Palestinians who had lost loved ones. That father said, “I gradually realized that the only hope for progress was to recognize the face of the conflict.” We see it in the actions of a Palestinian who lost three daughters to Israeli shells in Gaza. “I have the right to feel angry,” he said. “So many people were expecting me to hate. My answer to them is I shall not hate. Let us hope,” he said, “for tomorrow.”

“That is the choice that must be made -- not simply in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but across the entire region -- a choice between hate and hope; between the shackles of the past and the promise of the future. It's a choice that must be made by leaders and by the people, and it's a choice that will define the future of a region that served as the cradle of civilization and a crucible of strife.

“For all the challenges that lie ahead, we see many reasons to be hopeful. In Egypt, we see it in the efforts of young people who led protests. In Syria, we see it in the courage of those who brave bullets while chanting, “peaceful, peaceful.” In Benghazi, a city threatened with destruction, we see it in the courthouse square where people gather to celebrate the freedoms that they had never known. Across the region, those rights that we take for granted are being claimed with joy by those who are prying lose the grip of an iron fist.

“For the American people, the scenes of upheaval in the region may be unsettling, but the forces driving it are not unfamiliar. Our own nation was founded through a rebellion against an empire. Our people fought a painful Civil War that extended freedom and dignity to those who were enslaved. And I would not be standing here today unless past generations turned to the moral force of nonviolence as a way to perfect our union -- organizing, marching, protesting peacefully together to make real those words that declared our nation: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

“Those words must guide our response to the change that is transforming the Middle East and North Africa -- words which tell us that repression will fail, and that tyrants will fall, and that every man and woman is endowed with certain inalienable rights.

“It will not be easy. There's no straight line to progress, and hardship always accompanies a season of hope. But the United States of America was founded on the belief that people should govern themselves. And now we cannot hesitate to stand squarely on the side of those who are reaching for their rights, knowing that their success will bring about a world that is more peaceful, more stable, and more just.”

You can read Secretary Clinton's complete remarks here and President Obama's complete remarks here.



Gregg K.
Wyoming, USA
May 19, 2011

Gregg K. in Wyoming writes:

The entire World will be watching this one. Follow the Script and everything will be fine.

May 19, 2011

Damien in Canada writes:

The next 12 months will be trying times and won’t be easy. Keep your vision fluid and dynamic – suffer no fools

May 20, 2011

Ashim C. in India writes:


New Mexico, USA
May 21, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

I can't think of this speech given the contents and timing as anything but being delivered by a guy riding a massive wave in a perfect storm.

Who today calmly pondered a "partner in Peace"s intractability to the process and bemoaning the fact that he hasn't achieved what he claims to desire.

Peace, not this.

I just gots to say I doubt if folks can get there from here with fear based policy, whether that be one created by one who lives in fear or instills it in others.

'bout time to get a grip on it, I would think.

I hope folks in Egypt and Tunisia are paying attention, because it isn't every day we forgive a billion in debt as a nation, and double down on their future with a billion more in aid...and the press insists folks are indifferent?

Well, I suppose they can thank us later when they see the results in economic recovery.

And to tell Assad to get with the program , "or get out of the way"...(chuckle) just warmed my heart to hear I gotta say.

But what was new about any of this?

I recall the President saying at the UNGA that "Every nation must choose peace." and went into fair detail why that is at the time.

Along with the fact that "Words must mean something."

Well if anything I've said here means anything at all to anyone, then hopefully logic will prevail, for fear is the mind killer that drives folks crazy enough to make war.


May 21, 2011

Erevolu in the Pacific writes:

president obama is a great leader of USA. the key issues of mideast have two aspect, one is how to deal with islaeli and palestinian, and another is how to treat democratic demand of arabic people.

Virginia, USA
May 22, 2011

Donald M. in Virginia writes:

Hi everyone,

Did I miss something or is the King of Jordan dictacting to President Barack Obama on the secuirty in Isreal? When did a King of Jordan decide he can influence our President in making decisions that benefit the Arab league?

I can see now why tensions with Isreal have grown to a low. You invite the King of Jordan to the White House, wine and dine him, but when the Leader of Isreal shows up you dis him. I think if President Obama is going to work on behalf of the American people, he needs to consider that doing a two state solution hasn't worked, won't work, and will never work between these two. A simple solution was offered to move the Palastines out of tht West Bank but they refuse. They could of gone to the country of Greenland and lived in peace. However, whats more shocking is we have given these people our American tax dollars, and they continue to fight the jews.

According to what I read, the Jews were entitled to the Holy Land, says it in the bible. When Mosses brought the jews out of slaverly, entered the Holy Land, it belongs to Isreal, NOT palestine. So Gods word was that Isreal is entitled to have the holy land, then it belongs to them, not the Arabs. If the King of Jordan is so kind, why doesn't he offer to use his land to take the Palestine people, then we wouldn't have the mess today. I feel that most of the Leaders in the Arab world want change, but when the tar hits the road, they put it on someone else to do. King of Jordan wants the power, then so be it, start taking respsonibility for all the Palestine people. Move them to Jordan and problem resolved, once and for all. Then he can be a leader to those people. They can add a new Government in Jordan for those Palestine people. Otherwise, you will have constant fighting over land and never have peace between Isreal and Palestine. Telling Isreal what to do is not very smart, because your not telling both sides what to do, ONE sided direct order. Think about that before you start making speeches to the public, we can cross t's and dot i's too well. Solve problems, NOT make problems. Get resolutions. I for peace and tranquility for that part of the world. Its like discipling two kids that fight. Both are in trouble NOT just one side. Both should be told.

Godbless and peace out!

May 22, 2011

Mohammed in Bahrain writes:

Dear Mr. President,

Being one of the close followers of your speeches I have started to believe, like many, that America has finally found the right message to send to the world and a superb orator to deliver it. The high level of wordsmithery through which these speeches seem to have been crafted leaves no doubt that a lot of briefing and in-depth research have been used to ensure that clear, accurate and concise messages are delivered to people around the world hoping for a glimpse of hope that America truly understands them and their problems. Furthermore, these speeches, and sometimes mere short remarks by you, have started to form the general opinion of those starting to trust the American point of view on global issues.

I thought that your speech on the Middle East on Thursday May 19th 2011 was a replica of your previous messages in its balanced content and direct approach until you started addressing the issue in my country, Bahrain. I am not saying that you were utterly wrong, which by the way would have been easy to blame on American conspiracy and other popular theories, but it was those subtle mistakes in understanding the Bahraini scene which have shocked me. Knowing that by defending or accusing anybody I will only reflect my ethnic and sectarian biases I will refrain from doing so. I will rather focus on two simple issues coming from a Bahraini citizen who has been hopeful that America will use its influence with the royal family, the liberal and educated citizens and nationalistic opposition who crave for a democracy suitable for this area with all its ethnic, religious and sectarian differences.

To my dismay, the message was crafted in a typical American stereotype of bad guys (the royals) and freedom fighters (the Shias) who have been brutalized for simply demanding their rights in a peaceful manner. This contained two grave mistakes:

A) Neglecting that the core of the so called opposition in the recent events was a group directly and publicly backed by Revolutionary Guards in Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon. In my opinion trying to create a lamb from this beast is both naïve and irresponsible. At best, it will lead to civil war between our peace loving Bahraini Sunnis and Shias and at worst it will turn my beautiful country into battlefield for the Sunni and Shia powers in the region.

B) It eliminates the majority of Bahrainis shocked by the brutalities performed by so called opposition to public assets and policemen doing their jobs. Those Bahrainies care only for their country and want to live, work and raise their families in a peaceful and secure environment. This group is not only made up of Sunnis but includes the multitude of Shias who don’t want Bahrain to be a satellite country for terrorist groups in Iran and Lebanon but can’t talk fearing excommunication by their clergy.

I am not sure who to blame and don’t even care to know at this stage. All I care is for America not to destroy my small peaceful country by sending the wrong message of support for the wrong groups. This could be avoided by simply instructing your embassy in Bahrain to reach out to all Bahrainies and not to the limited groups that presented themselves as the true opposition and the rightful representatives of the people of Bahrain.

We, the people of Bahrain, will blame you for any harm to our nation caused by your support for the wrong groups. On the other hand, the American people will, in time, blame you for helping creating yet another terrorist stronghold in the region.

Thank you and best regards.

Bahraini Banker

Housewife B.
May 23, 2011

H. in Bahrain writes:

I am a Bahraini housewife and i am very angry from Mr. Obama speech.  How can he say that the terrorists who want to destroy my country are asking for freedom.  Does he accept this to happen in his country.  I blame the Americana embassy in Bahrain for not giving him the truth.

We want to see our children grow up in the same  peaceful country that we grew up in.  Please don't help the terrorists destroy my country.  

May 23, 2011

S. in Asia writes:

Thanksgiving is deserving president Barack Obama's lecture; too Ms Secretahery's remarks.

Who claimed this reality, a fellow that fed by the pandemonium. Nobody blame President Obama for his perused remarks or their foreign policy.

Joseph M.
Oregon, USA
May 23, 2011

Joseph M. in Oregon writes:

The U.S. President announced in his speech last week, that any future "blue-print" for establishing a Palestinian state should revert to the 1967 territorial alignment accord is long over-due. I couldn't agree more with the U.S. President on this fundamental principle and by sticking with the proposed 1967 dates for a future Palestinian State--the Israeli government should assume a more flexible position and this aspect remains crucial for reaching a future settlement. The problem is, there is "no incentive for the Israelis in agreeing with, accepting and re-establishing those borders, they are not even willing to let up on turning over indisputable parts of Eastern Jerusalem".

Every time there has been a "ray of hope in pursuing a achievable goal towards reaching a two-State solution",where a fair and humane proposal is being presented, "it has been met with a doom and gloom response by the Israeli government". Vilifying the Palestinian political movement will not lead to reaching an agreement in resolving this conflict. Let's hope this time it will be different?

Unfortunately, there is no viable incentive for the Israeli government to go along with such a proposal, they are continuously depriving the Palestinians of their territorial and sovereign rights and misrepresenting the Palestinian people's inherent rights for regaining their loss territory leading to Statehood.

Virginia, USA
May 23, 2011

Donald M. in Virginia writes:

"We the People of the United States Government need to start Minding our own affairs and stop getting our nose caught up in other countries business..." If not the road were navigating on will lead to more wars, more problems and a debt our Nation will never be able to pay back.

I think what United States needs to consider is, we have better start worrying about our Nation and problems then poke our nose in other countries problems. Here we are with a rising debt of over 14 Trillion dollars, and we tell the Arabs or Jews what to do? When we can't even get it together in our Nation. We end up borrowing from China and Japan, the money was used overseas to help others. When our own businesses are being shutdown, people losing jobs because of the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement. All the while the Pakistan Government laughing at our fools in Congress giving them billions of free money, they purchases jet fighters from China.

"Fools in Congress giving away free money our Nation cannot afford to give away." The same fools want to raise the debt ceiling so they can spend more money... It would be like giving a kid a credit card and telling him its okay to spend and have no responsbility on repaying it back. This is the example our foolish Congress people are doing?

Hasn't it dawned on anyone other than myself that Pakistan Government used the whole Osama bin laden thing to create an enemy so our forces would have to retaliate? Knowing all tell well what our Government would do. Knowing the US Government would give them free money to fight against terrorism? Its about time Pakistan start worrying about its own Nation. They have resources and if they can buy new Chinese Jets, they certainly can afford to take care of their own backyards without the help of the Untied States. When will we ever learn? We have been out smarted by the Pakistan Government. It reminds me of the snake in the garden of eden. Eve took the apple from the tree because the snake said it was okay. I hope someone can see the point I'm trying to make. What happened after God found out the forbidden fruit was taken? Adam and Eve were thrown out of the garden and the snake was given punishment of crawling on its belly forever. People may not be aware but in those times snakes could stand up and walk. Now look at the snake it crawls on its belly for generations of time. Think about that when you dis-obey God.

There is a saying, "Take care of your own people first" the United States had better learn this lesson quick. We need to start staying out of other countries businesses. Who are we to dicatate to any country in the world what they must do or NOT do. Its NOT in our constitution to direct or tell other Nations what they should be doing. Our charter does not cover making demands on other Nations. The United States does not have the Authority or the power to tell other countries what to do period. We have a Government that is for Our people our lands and our laws. We need to get out of the business of telling other country leaders what they should be doing. "Hence another phrase start minding our own business then we will prosper as a Nation again.""We would probably be in less wars today if we just started minding and taking care of our affairs in the United States."

Protect the Constitution of the United States and our borders does not include telling kings or Prime Ministers of other Nations what they should be doing on their soil. Then maybe we would have peace.

How many neighbors in the world would like to tell their neighbor they are doing something wrong but when you look at what they are doing, is it possible you could find something? We dont live with perfect neighbors we start respecting our neighbors and love they neighbor, not destroy they neighbor.

"Good day everyone and Peace on Earth, start finding Goodwill to all. Learn to respect and love thy neighbors and we all can get along in life..."

J F.
May 23, 2011

J.P. writes:

America is going to learn the hard way that she really is alone in the world in terms of governments and regimes. Most play America at America’s expense. It is a sad situation – good people live around the world but are completely unrepresented in ideology by their own governments. Lady liberty herself is on her knees and needs help. Look around – who provides aid to America in her time of need? Who will help the American people when devastating hurricanes hit? When Europe descends into chaos again who will be called upon to act? Your northern cousins in Canada are completely unable to defend itself and her natural wealth – who will be called to help defend her in the future? Who will help feed the hungry Americans now and in the future? We are in trouble – what will save America is unity – those that hold the belief that the south will rise again are right – but you will only rise in unity with all peoples that honour freedom from all points on the compass, all peoples across America and beyond that value freedom. Americas strongest asset has been squandered, reclaim it, live it, breath it, believe it, honour it and let nothing both from within and outside your borders erode it. Freedom frightens the weak and feeble. God bless all of you and keep up the good work.

Agagwu S.
May 23, 2011

Agagwu S. in Nigeria writes:

Wonderful comments by President Obama, but he only commented on the middle east and north Africa, nobody is commenting on Nigeria, where after a very free and fair election, some part of the country always causing problems decided to start killing their neigbhor because of ethnic, religious and political differences. The number of people killed in the post election crisis is in their thousands but nobody is reporting it.

New Mexico, USA
May 23, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Donald,

"We the People of the United States Government need to start Minding our own affairs and stop getting our nose caught up in other countries business..."

Are you quoting yourself or someone else?

We tried this once and aprox 70 million died because the rest of the world appeased dictators and tyrants, then we lost a half million men to finally win the war they then declared on us while we were trying to stay out of it.

Now why would you want to try something today that that patently has already been proven doesn't ever work to make this nation secure?

That's a sure-fire way to let little Hitlers become genocidal maniacs and you know where that leads us?

Living in a world that has gone strait to Hell. One we've created for ourselves by failing to do the right thing and engage the world at the speed of thought.

Folks got to change the mindset of violence that creates the reality of war before folks can attain peace, and that can't be done with a fear-based policy that hides behind oceans.

Best regards,



@ To H. and Mohammed in Bahrain,

Welcome to the blog, and thanks for your perspective on what's going on in your country.

I'd like to return that with some of my own.

You know why the Iranian government is not able to promote unrest in my country?

You know why Al-quaida hasn't set up shop in our Rocky Mountains to terrorize us?

It's not my government they are afraid of or anything like that that prevents them, though the gov. is charged with protecting us against such external threats and acts on them.

It is because there are more guns than there are people and more than 60 million guys with pickup trucks and firearms would hunt them down for sport, in defense of our freedom.

This is the same reason my government would never, ever think of shooting down peaceful protesters in the street in America.

It is the reason that a dictator or tyrant can't attain a position of political power in this democracy...never mind the institutions that keep political power in check under the law, the people are always vigilant in defending their rights to life, liberty and the persuit of terrorists, ( and happiness born of living in peace with one's neighbors).

Let me just say that every day someone from somewhere in my country is protesting something outside the Whitehouse and my government accepts the reality that it can't keep all 310 million of us happy all at the same time. Wisely our forefathers gave the government a Constitution to follow that allows them to deal with an unruly mob by letting them blow off steam peacefully and have their voices heard without fear of reprisal.

And thus it can be truly said in America that "A day without protest is a day without democracy."

Which being allowed to take place by law pretty well avoids any serious organized rebellion from taking a violent approach to changing US policy that annoys them as citizens.

What the President is suggesting strongly your kingdom does to hold dialoge with protesters is based on a lot of what I've said here in a general understanding of human nature.

If the Iranian government is trying to destabilize your country as it apears to be doing they will be exposed in this intent, and thwarted in achieving it through dialoge that produces reform that eliminates the trigger of discontent that the Iranians have sought to exacerbate among your citizens and topple your government.

So by improving the level of self-determination of people of all walks of life in Bahrain, the gov. acts in self determination to meet the nature of the threat posed by Iran, by improving the lives of its people.

Thus Iran cannot exert a negative influence within your soveriegn territory in the future.

Finally I would say that what defines a terrorist is the individual's lack of empathy towards his fellow human, for to have even the smallest spark of empathy generates more understanding among people than a terrorist will ever attain.

If a government has empathy, it finds it impossible to rule by terror, and one that lacks empathy inevitably does.

Be not angry with my President for asking folks to make the right choice.

That's his job as a world leader that shows empathy.

What are friends for anyway?

Peace be with you,


Virginia, USA
May 23, 2011

Donald M. in Virginia writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico

We continue on this present situation of doing what your saying, we won't have a United States left. They had a chance to get the Lybian Leader on our soil and didn't act when the Opportunity arised. Its about time that Leaders in foreign countries start taking care of their own business. We keep adding injury to insult by giving these countries money and they pocket the money, while the spread of the terrorist only continue not end.

I was quoting myself because in my way, trying to get a communication off that made sense. Once we have a defict gone, sure go out and save the world. Until they we still have to resolve our own problems in the UNited States. Theres a saying, "If you can't help yourself, how can you assist others?" We have given to the Japanese when they were in trouble with the Nuclear melt downs, helped the country of Haiti, etc... what happens when we have floods in the United States, how many countries are lined up helping our people? Did you see them yet Eric? Where are they?

Virginia, USA
May 23, 2011

Donald M. in Virginia writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico

I know what you mean, understand it all too well. Somewhere, the United States has changed its policy and we are digging ourselves a hole that you can't get out. If we were in a balanced deficit, sure it be fine to go out and have wars. We are not and because of that, think about it this way, if we can't get out of this massive hole, when the storms or fires, or natural disasters, or even wars come to our soil, how are we going to handle the crisis, if there is NO money to handle it with, or supplies? Eventually, the well will run dry. Do you continue your legacy and push foward knowing our Nation is on a brink of going broke? They need to solve the money issue soon. I only wished that President Barrack Obama had made this order to take out Osama bin laden after 9/11 and maybe we wouldn't be in the mess today. We really need to get the deficit solved soon Eric, or our Nation can be taken over by another country.

John P.
May 23, 2011

John P. in Greece writes:

@ Donald M. in Virginia

You know how much I respect you, but sometimes you become very "catastrophic".

QUOTE:our Nation can be taken over by another country END OF QUOTE

According to my opinion this is IMPOSSIBLE!

Do you think that there is any country in the world without a deficit?


The problem is that most people don't say all the truth: China has bigger problems, Russia has bigger problems, everybody has a problem.

And please don't tell me about Switzerland, because U.S.A. will never become a "Switzerland", exactly the same way Switzerland or Sweden & etc. will never become a hyper-power like U.S..

I agree with you that financial power is vital, but please, according to my opinion, don't leave your thoughts follow catastrophic demons.

Best Regards!

P.S.@ Eric: Among others, I loved this part with the "60M guys" (chuckle)

New Mexico, USA
May 23, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Donald, the civilized thing to do was give Ghaddafi a chance to change, even having to put up with his endless monologes in the UNGA after he gave up his nuclear ambitions to have better relations for a time and I suppose it just serves folks a learning process in why if one is going to bomb a terrorist like Reagan did, might as well do the job right the first we can take this as far back as you like, but that doesn't solve the problen in the now, never mind the fact that having a balanced budget at one point before 9/11 meant "the hollowing out of our military" to quote Sec. Gates, as well as the dept of State I might add to the point it couldn't keep up with attrition in the foreign service as officers retired.

I'm all for a balanced budget but not at the expense of losing the war we're in , thanks.

There's enough folks actively trying to dig a hole and bury this nation in it that it costs a pretty penny to guard against that happening.

As far as disasters go, the managed flooding of the Mississippi delta is not on the scale of a Katrina, it was done to prevent that, and doesn't require international aid to save lives or folks would have asked for it I would think.

Cheer up my good friend, just what do you think the economic returns on having "favored nation" status among those we've supported in their call for liberty?

How do you think we got to where we're at with a multi-trillion GDP? And as long as Congress gets its act together and the economy continues to improve the tax base, I think we can do both the foreign and domestic agenda on this administration's plate.

In my Granddad's day, folks rationed stuff to win wars, and the American public has grown a bit soft in all its abundance and buying power, but hey...this is the 21st century right?


How's your victory garden growing?

Attitude is everything where it concerns a balanced one's aproach to stuff that sucks so much you just gotta have fun with it to get over it.

Is there any other way to solve a problem?

Congress should be in session 365/7 or till hell freezes over, whichever comes first. Santa doesn't have to give 'em a day off for good behavior as a bonus if the deficit ain't resolved this year.

That's going to take some creative financing on an international scale in seeking debt re financing at favorable rates.

And getting every corporation, buisiness and investment firm in America to take no profit beyond what may be applied to company growth as reinvestment and new hires, and taking all that profit and balancing America;'s budget with it as a survival mechanism that has been activated upon the limit of our debt ceiling.

That would be right about now, in other words.

So there's more than one way than starving social programs to get there from here.

Why would a corporation do this?

If the government goes belly up, they have no representitives to protect them in buisiness with other nations for one thing.

That would eat into profits immediately.

Second, If the American Public sufferes so does its worforce, and that eats into profits.

Third, the less secure the US because of a huge deficit the less secure the corporation's environment to conduct buisiness in will be, and that will cut into profits.

The less the American public's buying power is along with saving ability the less profit margin will be reflected in the nation's overall GDP, and that cuts into everybody's profits.

Finally, the more this nation draws down its conventional capacity to fight war limits its ability to fight one without resorting to unconventional WMD when a nation like North Korea threatenes its neighbors and/or us.

Now honestly I'd be more inclined to bring all the folks home if the rest of the world would simply take care of its tyrants and terrorists, but we didn't get into this thing with the international community we wanted Donald, and folks are starting to realize that that is cutting into their potential profit margins along with all the human suffering going on globally because of the dysfunctionality.

I trust folks will work it out.

By the way, look how long it took to catch the unibomber and he was domestic hiding out in the US.

I can't blame anyone for how long it took to get bin Laden, they got him and that's what matters.



Virginia, USA
May 24, 2011

Donald M. in Virginia writes:

Hey guys,

All I am saying is, the United States being a super power has to get our "Financial House in order."I don't believe the answer is with raising taxes. We all can agree that people like Saddam Hussain, Osama bin laden, and others who have committed acts of violence against humanity should be brought to Justice or punished I totally agree... Right now we need solutions to become money stable. We all know the consquences if this doesn't happen. I have always been the type of person sure help, but our folks in Congress needs to do a better job to ensure we don't bankrupt our Nation. Eric in New Mexico and John In Greece guys I respect your comments as well. You know your own home, if you went spend crazy, you would find yourself in an situation of desperation.

Bottom line is Congress needs to come up with a plan that reduces our deficit and makes money, jobs and if you want to include the wars fine, but lets start taxing the countries were fighting. Instead of handing Pakistan money, they should be paying the United States for rooting out the evil doers. Make Iraq pay for the security and manpower our Nation has given them. They can always pay in oil to help with our gas prices at the pump. We need ideas, solutions, and input to get resolve. This blog is about that very thing to offer ideas, suggestions, input to help. Thats why I still blog, If we all can work together, thinking to make things better. I for one don't want to see our Nation taken over by the Chinese or any other 3rd world Rogue Nation. We are better than this. Start placing the tax on the Nations were helping and root out terrorists. If you call someone to your home to cut your grass, then you need to pay the person once they complete the job. This should be no different with wars. If were invloved helping Pakistan, they should be footing the bill. We should not have to pay for our forces on foreign soil helping a Government. What should of happened is Pakistan got a loan that they would of had to pay back with interest. People in the United States can't even get loans but how strange the people who live hundres of thousands of miles away are getting our money handed to them for free. That was my biggest point.

New Mexico, USA
May 24, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Donald,

I don't know what effect having a balanced budget would have on programs, but having no deficit at all would make for an unstoppable economy and profit for all, including job security for the American worker I would think.

I don't know what it would take to convince the corporate sector nation-wide to go non-profit for a period of a few years to invest in America to erase the debt, and enjoy sustained economic prosperity on the backside of that investment in the years following.

If they be taking profit and paying down on the principal of the national debt with it (and paying no taxes as non-profit status temorarily) then the nation will be paying less debt overall because we won't be paying huge interest payments as we are now through the government.

The government is servicing the debt and this becomes a public/private partnership to eradicate it to a) elevate the long-term economic picture overall in America, and B) Provide for a greater national security posture globally.

If this nation cannot be leveraged by having a debt, then we can exert greater influence on all levels.

Free-trade becomes a more likely global envirionment, and the global economic outlook becomes more stable.

But in getting there folks will have to make the investment. No pain, no gain.

If the gov. is serious about energy security it better drill and mine and refine to eliminate our dependancy on foreign energy sources, along with promoting wind and solar.

Then you have nuclear energy and that's a matter of review, and ultimately some older plants will have to be decommissioned. Next generation plants will have to replace them in time.

The answer to our own security is whether US companies are willing to invest in keeping this nation afloat or not.

Rather than pass legistlation to get them to do this, it should be a matter of common buisiness sense.

For the return on it is in seeing the good times roll for their kids and grandkids, and not have them saddled with a debt. Generations of well-educated, productive, hard working taxpayers to sustain an economy with, that competes.

Bein' that it's in a bit of a droubt cycle here I don't contemplate cutting grass anytime soon, but If (a hypothetical implementation up for debate) my government wants to roll out the lawnboy and start "daisy cutting" opperations on the "commons lawn" to rid it of tyrants and terrorists, who should pay for that?

It can be safely said that folks will pay one way or another if terrorist weeds florish there.

One way of sharing the burden among NATO members is anyone of them not willing to put assets and manpower into the fight should pay for the cost of deploying armed forces incurred by those who are willing.

Likewise when Saudi Arabia asks the US to eliminate Iran as a threat to the region, we should probably ask them if they are willing to pony up the forces and the cash to be considered true partners in the doing, along with a coalition of the willing that has put their money where their mouth is.

To ask a nation like Pakistan who is having a severe economic crisis to " If were invloved helping Pakistan, they should be footing the bill." is not reasonable under current circumstances when billions in aid were allocated to help them deal with a natural disaster affecting over 2 million people there.

Add the fact that they are the one's taking the most civilian and military casualties in fighting this global war on terror.

Bill Hugo Chavez? We could do that for him simply being an idiot I suppose.

Bill the Mullahs in Iran...yeah let's,...but we'll have to invade to collect since they owe so much as the price of being a sponsor of terror is of exponential proportions.

Assad? Ditto that...and he's probably next.

Ghaddafi? We'll honor the people's "end user" agreement we made with the opposition, enabling them to take him out of the picture with a lot of help as they stand up democracy (small d).

Lastly Donald, We may just have to agree to disagree because isolation just ain't the way to solving the national debt in a rational manner that works to the good of the nation.

It may be useful to revist how "lend-lease" was structured back in the day, in support of our allies as sometimes old-school methods still have functionality in today's world.

Anyway, you have my solution to the notion of an "evil corporate empire".

I think they should have the opportunity to earn the American public's respect and thanks for addressing our common problem.

This being "The Great Experiment" let's see if we can put greed on hold for the duration.


Virginia, USA
May 28, 2011

Donald M. in Virginia writes:

Hi everyone,

I read the remarks regarding the vist in Pakistan. I agree the United States needs to be less active and allow countries to Govern and provide for its own security. We have to maintain our integrity and security of the United States of America. If we continue to try and solve the world problems, our own problems will become mountains. In my opinion, if a country needs special forces from the United States, they should call the President and ask, but when they do, ensure it comes with a price. Nothing in this world is FREE. We cannot continue giving our Nation away because countries can't figure out how to build theirs. They need to educate their own people, build and provide security. I keep hearing we are the richest country in the world, when in reality, whats truly transparent we are drowning in debt deep as the Atlantic Ocean. "United States needs to rebuild its own country before we become superman or spider woman to the world" rescue our own people. We have helped other Nations, now is the time to help Americans. You can bring a horse to water but you can't make him drink.

New Mexico, USA
August 3, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Dipnote bloggers,

Well, I figure this thread is as good a place as any to wish the President happy birthday on hitting the big 5-0, and if he isn't doing anything special, or spending it with family, then I might as well invite him to post a follow-up to this speech on Dipnote..., and I wanted to tell him he was most welcome, since he thanked the American Public for giving our government hell over the past weeks so they could get a grip and avert debtmaggedon ( I know I tried to do my part)

My thinking on this is that where it concerns satisfaction, Mick Jagger said it best. "You can't always get what you want, but if you try...sometimes you get what you need."

I think right about now there's some really, really unsatisfied folks in the Mideast who are getting our moral support, and while we're offering our "unique capabilities" to NATO's mission in Lybia...forgive a billion in debt to Egypt and all the humanitarian aid..., yet dictators are subject to Newtonian laws of physics just like everything else.

We see equal and opposite reactions to calls for no violence to be used on peaceful protesters.

We see dictators initiate wholesale slaughter until acted upon by an outside force.

We see the UNSC remain at rest without condemnation until acted upon by our UN perm rep saying "That's pathetic!", and still it takes the use of overwhelming force by dictators to get member states to act with responsibility.

And the gravity of the situation couldn't be experientially exaggerated when Iran or North Korea would like to drop a nuke on someone's head.

So I think it's about time for an update on the President's plan of action if he's not too busy opening presents.

Or we could just commiserate on what turning 50 life half over or are we finally adults yet?...(chuckle)

Personally I plan to live forever and I'll be damned if I grow up to be anything like politically correct from this state of diplomatic adolecence.

Besides which being a dad kept me perpetually young, so it's not my fault.

Grey hairs or no...Attitude is everything.

Happy Birthday early Mr. President, and many more.

Couldn't afford to send a card Mr. President, so I guess this will have to do. If the Dipnote staff forwards this it should get to your desk on time to cut the cake.




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