Barack Obama’s election, as the 44th president of the United States (US) in December 2008, created a high degree of optimism for a new beginning for Americans and worldwide. His ascendance to power was marked by two watershed developments for America: first, the political decline of the neoconservatives, whom under former President George W. Bush entangled America in a series of endless “war on terrorism” operations abroad and, second, the promise that the new president would regain America’s lost image and credibility in the international arena. In his inaugural address of January 20th, 2009 Obama enthusiastically spoke of America’s role as a world leader again. He said: “And so, to all other peoples and governments watching us today…know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more.”1
President Obama’s Middle East Policy, 2009-2013
President Barack Obama won the 2008 US presidential race with promises to restore America’s lost image and status in the world, to lead the world again to achieve peace and dignity, and to start a “new beginning” with Muslims worldwide. This article examines Obama’s promised “new beginning” with Muslims in the Middle East and assesses his Middle East policy to determine whether his policy marks a break from the previous George W. Bush administration’s Mideast policy. First, it presents a comparative discussion on Bush’s and Obama’s Mideast policies and then turns to analyze a series of important issues that critically affects US-Mideast relations. It concludes that in the last five years (2009-2013) President Obama has, at best, achieved a mixed record –in some cases his approach has produced positive outcomes, in other cases, his policy is more a continuation of George W. Bush’s policy.
U.S. Army soldiers salute after walking off the plane as they arrive at their home after being part of one of the last American combat units to exit from Iraq in December 2011. GETTY IMAGES / JOE RAEDLE
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