Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi, Photo: AP, How Hwee Young
It's not often the words of a country's leader actually speak the truth or in the current nomenclature "truth to power".
But there was Egypt's new president Mohammad Morsi on Sunday uttering the following during an interview with the New York Times saying, "Successive American administrations essentially purchased with American taxpayers money, the dislike, if not the hatred, of the peoples of the region", supporting the dictatorships that oppressed the people as well as siding with Israel over the Palestinians. Then referring to the protests that have recently swept the Arab and Muslim world over the video denigrating the Prophet Mohammad he said, "We took our time to avoid an explosive backlash".
Morsi went on to say, "It was up to the U.S. to repair relations with the Arab world, live up to the Camp David commitment for Palestinian self rule and that the U.S. must respect the Arab world's history and culture even if it conflicts with Western values. Maybe Morsi is new to the "game" of political obfuscation and dissembling remarks but it sure was refreshing to get his straight talk.
It is also noteworthy, that Morsi, in the U.S. for a meeting at the U.N. General Assembly, initially requested to meet with President Obama but apparently received a "cool reception" from the White House and subsequently dropped the request seemingly aware of the upcoming U.S. presidential election and the "politics" of a meeting with an Egyptian Islamist leader, (more on this a bit later).
Well any number reactions struck home upon reading and reflecting on Morsi's remarks:
Here's a former Muslim Brotherhood leader (who by the way attended the University of Southern California, spending four years in the U.S.) whose words indicate he has seemingly embraced the true meaning of Democracy. His poll rating of 70% support by the Egyptian people also indicates he has transcended his own personal sectarian beliefs to garner support beyond the Muslim faithful. Also his asserting civilian control of the Egyptian military has certainly not hurt him in the eyes of the people.
His alluding to "successive American governments" buying the allegiance of dictators in the Arab world and with it the enmity of the people of those countries is a basic truth that the American people need to comprehend and understand. The American government may mouth the words of "freedom and democracy" to the Arab world but its policies and actions say otherwise.
This obvious contradiction is not lost on the people in Arab and Muslim world. So when an American made video ridicules the Prophet Mohammad, it becomes a catalyst for many to unleash their pent up hatreds long built up from U.S. government's policy actions that support the dictatorial regimes who oppress and subjugate the people. Add in the unjustified wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Abu Ghraib torture videos, killing of innocents in drone attacks et al, Arab and Muslim antipathy toward the American government and taking violent action against American embassies and consulates is understandable.
As to Obama refusing to meet with Morsi during his short stay in the U.S. the take from here is, "political perceptions" in the U.S. being what they are, Obama's handwringing concern is such a meeting would likely incur the wrath of Republicans generally and certainly the hard right fringe would take umbrage that such a meeting with a man critical of Israeli policy and its treatment of the Palestinians would alienate American Jews who would then throw their support to Romney. But such political maneuvering is typical especially during the U.S. election season.
We're a government of smoke and mirrors where imaging, marketing, packaging and branding of the candidates is paramount. So Obama meeting Morsi at this time is just too risky.
The Egyptian people seem to have in Morsi a straight talker seemingly committed to bringing real democracy. Meanwhile the American people have the Obama/Romney "brands" to contend with as the likely next president.
Believing you're going to get straight talk from either is a mirage.