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President Obama says two interesting things about the Middle East

President Barack Obama said a lot today in his speech focused on our policy approach to the inflamed Middle East, but two things stood out for me:

1. He sided with popular revolutions trying to overturn Arab governments, many of which the U.S. had previously supported despite their history of repression and dictatorship. “The people have risen up to demand their basic human rights.”

2. He called for reinventing foreign aid so that it serves the need of people rather than governments. We’ll have to see what this means. Obama cited the $1 billion in proposed aid to Egypt as if this was somehow a new thing. We’ve been giving massive aid to Egypt, and Egypt’s former dictator, for years — mostly for military purchases.

Here’s a brief clip from the AP excerpting Obama’s speech.

The conservative Heritage organization denounced Obama’s aims to assist Egypt as a “mini-Marshall Plan” — claiming that the original post-WWII Marshal Plan was also a fraud. I dunno enough to say.

The Washington Post also “deciphered” Obama’s speech and offered perspective on the rhetoric.

Much more was made of Obama’s call for Israel and Palestine to agree to a two-state resolution of their conflict based on the 1967 borders — which has already prompted internecine media conflict, such as the Atlantic referring to the AP as providing “the nuttiest” perspective (really? THE nuttiest?).

But haven’t we all heard this two-state-resolution sort of thing from the Obama Administration before?

What most interests me is exactly how President Obama intends to support the popular Arab revolt (he forgot to mention Bahrain’s revolt, I think, and didn’t talk about democracy for Saudi Arabia) and in what way our approach to foreign aid will change to avoid supporting repressive governments.


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Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at] or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.