Obama and the Middle East: a BBC debate

In Israel-Palestine: What’s Next?, Leading with Questions, The Arab Spring

In 2010, the BBC Doha Debates invited me to debate the question: is Obama too weak to make peace in the Middle East?

You can enjoy here the video of this pre-Arab Spring debate: so many fundamentals are still here today, so many things radically transformed… 

I then contended that Obama was NOT too weak to make peace. With hindsight, I acknowledge that he was too weak to make it in his first mandate. I believe, that in the case of reelection, with an economy that is finally getting Americans back to job, he might put his weight back in the region. The years 2013-2016 are years of incredible transformation to come in the Middle East. The hypothetical Obama II administration would have new cards to play to bring more actors to the table and put increased pressure on its Israeli ally.

What do you think?

4 comments on “Obama and the Middle East: a BBC debate”

  1. Andrea says:

    In my opinion president Obama has to think about a long term strategy in the Middle East. I think this is the only way how to avoid lasting damage to U.S. relations with the Arab World, which is newly empowered. There are already the anti-American sentiments. I am certain about the right approach in the Middle East policy, which has Obama adopted yet. On the other hand I think that president Obama can not offer grand solutions to the Middle East’s problems. Although he is showing a strength as a leader in global and diversity mindset, communication and interpersonal skills. Arabs maybe are not expecting him to. And maybe Arab problems should have own Arab solutions.

  2. Nadya says:

    Ever since his first election Barack Obama widely spread the social liberalistic and progressive ideas upon which the Democrat party is build on. He is also associated with the image of the man who united the nation and fights for human rights. I think many people believed or wanted to believe that he can be the one to bring changes. It is sad to say but if I must be painfully honest I doubt the power of a single man to deal with the critical situation in Middle East. There are numerous factors in support of this statement. On one hand you have the potential unwillingness of the US government to end the war due to its own imperialistic motives. Another aspect it could be the little political space the president has as Mr. Weiss said.
    Finally the question for me is whether third party can promote mutual understanding between Israelites and Palestinian?

  3. Salla Paajanen says:

    I do not think that it is the matter of weakness whether Obama will make peace in the Middle East or not. I think that it is the matter of strategy and power relations that have to be considered in this situation. Is it Obama’s job to make peace in the Middle East? I think that no third party can make permanent peace between parties in another continent. The conflicts in the Middle East are so deep rooted that the solutions have to rise from the parties themselves in order to obtain peace. The solution is certainly not all black and white or simple; otherwise someone would have already come up with the solution and made peace in the Middle East.

  4. Kaisa Kuusinen says:

    I agree with many of the above comments. Why do we think that Obama could bring peace in Middle East? Sure the United States have played part in creating some of the conflicts, but when the issue lies in the mindset of people in these areas there is nothing a third person can really do? If the mind set of the people in these areas is built on mistrust to their neighbours, you can only try to be an intermediator. There certainly has been many intermediators before him. This is not to say he should not try, but to be honest I can understand that the mustrust some of these conflict countries have towards USA. After all they seem to go and meddle everywhere and the just leave. You cannot force democracy or peace. It needs to come from within.

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