Saturday, 6 June 2009


U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a long anticipated speech on June 4, 2009 to the Muslim world during his visit to Egypt in Cairo University in Cairo, capital of Egypt, which is aimed at recovering U.S. relations with Muslim countries. (Xinhua/Zhang Ning)
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Obama's "new beginning" needs concrete actions

BEIJING, June 5 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said in a major speech at Cairo University on Thursday that the United States seeks a "new beginning" in relations with the Muslim world.

The "new beginning," however, still needs more actions to be realized.

The United States has experienced painful lessons in its treatment of different cultures. On the Middle East issue, the U.S. has consistently taken the side of Israel; on the issue of Iran, the U.S. has imposed sanctions.

In 2003, the U.S. military launched the Iraq war, saying that the Americans would "rebuild" the Middle East according to their own values and political system. Six years have past, however, and the war has left a trail of destruction in Iraq. The U.S. has also paid price, including a high death toll and an enormous expenditure. The facts have shown that the war has been a disaster for both the Middle East region and the U.S. itself.

As we can see, behind these crisis hides not only reasons for benefit, but also the exclusive mood of a super international power, which rejected different cultures, values and political systems. More introspection and less repugnance on the part of the United States would help improve relations between U.S. and the Muslim world.

Obama's proposition of a "new start" is a positive signal. Yet just as he recognizes himself, bilateral relations will not change overnight. Frankness and mutual trust are important for the two sides to listen and learn from each other in order to seek a common ground.

According to an ancient Chinese saying: "The gentleman aims at harmony, and not at uniformity," so different cultures, views, values and social systems need to be communicated and shared through dialogue on the basis of equality and mutual trust. That is the right way to build a world of peace and harmony.

To both the United States and the Muslim world, more communication and less actions to harm bilateral relations are the only way to gain mutual trust.

It is noticeable that some "changes" in U.S. diplomacy have taken place since Obama took office.

For one thing, the Obama administration has expressed its willingness to have open and direct talks with Iran. For another, it has shown intentions of easing the long-time tensions with Cuba. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has also introduced the term "smart power" in the new administration's foreign policies.

How far can such "changes" go and what results can be achieved depends on a complexity of factors concerning the relevant parties, as well as the domestic political environment in the United States.

Although the president's speech at Cairo University received a certain amount of applause, some analysts pointed out that due to its long-time policy consistency, "changes" advocated by the Obama administration seemed to remain just words without action.

Therefore, to create a "new beginning," the U.S. should take more substantial steps, and with deeper sincerity.

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