Former USIP Board Member on Obama's Speech and the Arab Spring
May 18, 2011
Only Washington Can Lead
The Arab awakening has created new prisms through which Arabs view the world. The most striking example has been the Arab public’s seeming embrace of Western intervention in Libya, in contrast to the furious opposition to the intervention in Iraq.
As President Obama lays out his approach to the Middle East, he will need to be mindful of this prism for a newly empowered generation of Arabs seeking freedom and dignity. But there should be no doubt that the old prism of pain through which Arabs view the world, the Israeli-Palestinian will only be magnified in the months ahead. It cannot be avoided, and kicking the can forward is unlikely to make addressing this conflict any easier.
Shibley Telhami is a former USIP board member (2000-2002) and member of the Senior Working Group on Middle East Peace.