Obama’s ‘New Beginning’ was the Beginning of the End

by | Jun 30, 2016


It’s been seven years since Obama delivered his famous speech at Cairo University in June 2009, which at the time was quite ironically heralded as the “new beginning” since it was believed that it would open a new page in the US relations with the Middle Eastern and North Africa.

Back then, this speech was perceived as an actual program that Obama would be following, therefore many Muslim states embraced Obama’s vision as a game changer. According to this “new beginning” speech, Obama was going to depart from the Bush-era marked by aggressive policies, known by the armed aggression against Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq. The US president was also particularly vocal in declaring his support of mutual values most African and Islamic states share.

It must be understood that this speech has been instrumental in the Nobel Peace Prize that Obama was honored by the Nobel Committee with in its eagerness to show its unconditional support for Washington.

However, seven years later, even American experts only dare to mention this speech, proving the US has failed to fulfill any of Obama’s promises. It’s now a recognized fact that Washington’s “vision” of US relations with Middle East has been completely detached from reality, since the White House remains still a ruthless aggressor. But the Obama administration has taken it a step too far, going from simply intervening in the affairs of sovereign Muslim states to creating a dreadful reality, where civil institutions are now not simply undermined in the Middle East, they are replaced by brutal terrorist groups.

Today, Obama’s approach to the Middle East is often linked to Hillary Clinton’s belief about the need to impose total chaos across the region. The failure to deliver on his promises has recently been noted by Newsweek, which would state:

When Obama took office, there were no major al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan. Now they are back… and-bringing the whole sad spectacle full circle-ISIS has expanded from Iraq and Syria and established a presence in Afghanistan, taking over villages and imposing rule so brutal it is actually making Afghans long for the days of Taliban rule.

The influential alternative media source Counter Punch would go a step further:

The cause of peace in the Middle East has not advanced under Obama. His decision to follow Hillary Clinton’s advice rather than his own inclinations and intervene in Libya after the overthrow of Muammar el-Qaddafi was disastrous. There, as well as in Iraq and Afghanistan, the peace process has collapsed and good governance is a distant dream.

According to his “new beginning” policy, Obama pushed for the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and the resignation of Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen, at the outbreak of civil war in Syria. All this resulted in the growing influence of organized terrorism and the rapid emergence and expansion of new and extremely dangerous radical groups like ISIS.

According to various American analysts, the origins of ISIS lie in Obama’s and Clinton’s policy of delusions and half measures regarding the Iraq and Syria conflicts. The recent release of an August 2012 classified memo to the then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton indicated the presence of the organization that later became ISIS among the Syrian opposition forces supported by the West.

It’s clear now that in Cairo Obama has indirectly announced his support for organized extremism. At the time his team had already had been knee deep in supporting the idea that the the Muslim Brotherhood is a popular Arab movement that would be able to bring “a change” to the the countries of the region and transform the existing autocratic regimes into more democratic ones. One of these “supporters” was Hillary Clinton who made political deals with extremist groups a common practice among US foreign policy. Arabs still believe that Washington hasn’t given up this practice even now, although it was forced to take it a couple of steps back. It’s true that Obama’s reliance on elite forces and drones may reduce US casualties, but it still amounts to intervention and avoidance of peacemaking. Obama has also smashed records for selling weaponry and arms to America’s so-called Middle East “allies,” many of whom continue to wage their own wars of destruction.

The failed promise of the Arab Spring virtually everywhere has been equaled only by the US failure to find faithful partners amidst extremists. Therefore, as of now, the US has no reliable allies in the Arab world worth mentioning.

The only good thing American analysts can say now about Obama’s “new beginning” is that by 2020, the Clinton presidency most likely will make us all feel much better about Barack Obama’s failures in comparison.

Therefore, all of us are responsible in assisting US citizens in making an informed decision about who is going to run the White House in the years to come, since this choice will directly affect the development of the situation not only in the Middle East and Africa, but across the globe as well.

Reprinted with permission from New Eastern Outlook.


  • Martin Berger

    Martin A. Berger is Acting Dean of the Arts and Professor of History of Art and Visual Culture at the University of California at Santa Cruz. He graduated from Wesleyan University with a B.A. in English and Art History and received his Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University.