World Citizen: Obama’s Plea for U.S. Relevance in the New Middle East

World Citizen: Obama’s Plea for U.S. Relevance in the New Middle East

When President Barack Obama addressed the world's Muslims from Cairo in 2009, his message, to put it bluntly, added up to, "Please love America -- or at least stop hating it." Two years later, when Obama took the podium once again to address the restive Middle East, his message was much different, but just as stark. This time he seemed to be saying, "Please believe that America still matters."

Obama's May 19 speech from the State Department in Washington represented a desperate attempt at relevance. The president was essentially trying to demonstrate that during this transformative phase in the region, the United States still speaks with a voice that must be heard -- and with a power that can help shape the world. It was the uneasy cry of a superpower startled by global events, trying to regain a place of leadership and influence in a pivotal part of the world.

Obama was quick to acknowledge that the U.S. had acted as little more than an observer when the ground started shaking in the Middle East. "It's not America," he said, "that put people into the streets of Tunis or Cairo." After more than four months spent struggling to come up with a coherent response to the Arab uprisings, Obama revealed an America that above all hopes to avoid becoming a marginal player. "The question before us," he confessed, "is what role America will play as this story unfolds."

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review