Obama Misses Opportunity in “Moment of Opportunity” Middle East Speech

James Phillips /

President Obama today delivered a lengthy speech on U.S. policy in the Middle East that promised continued American support for democratic transitions in the countries influenced by the “Arab Spring.” He outlined an overly optimistic vision of what an Israeli–Palestinian peace settlement would look like. But he missed an opportunity to express strong U.S. support for democratic opposition movements brutally repressed by two dictatorships that stand as the chief barriers to realizing American goals in the Middle East: Iran and Syria.

The President reviewed the “extraordinary change” that has recently taken place in Tunisia and Egypt and lamented: “Unfortunately, in too many countries, calls for change have been answered by violence.” While he talked at length about the violent regime reaction in Libya, he shortchanged discussion of the systematic repression in Syria and Iran and failed to announce concrete policies that would help beleaguered democratic forces in those countries to advance freedom and defend human rights. (more…)