On the heels of the bin Laden hit, President Obama is ready to once again speak to the natives:
For President Obama, the killing of Osama bin Laden is more than a milestone in America’s decade-long battle against terrorism. It is a chance to recast his response to the upheaval in the Arab world after a frustrating stretch in which the stalemate in Libya, the murky power struggle in Yemen and the brutal crackdown in Syria have dimmed the glow of the Egyptian revolution.
Administration officials said the president was eager to use Bin Laden’s death as a way to articulate a unified theory about the popular uprisings from Tunisia to Bahrain — movements that have common threads but also disparate features, and have often drawn sharply different responses from the United States.
The first sign of this “reset” could come as early as next week, when Mr. Obama plans to give a speech on the Middle East in which he will seek to put Bin Laden’s death in the context of the region’s broader political transformation. The message, said one of his deputy national security advisers, Benjamin J. Rhodes, will be that “Bin Laden is the past; what’s happening in the region is the future.”
From everything I’ve read and seen, the issue of bin Laden’s death and the Arab Spring are entirely unrelated, and the latter has little if anything to do with the United States. It is an inward-facing, localized expression of unrest in a region where America’s intentions are deeply mistrusted.
The temptation to exploit this opportunity is understandable, as is the idea of some magical “reset” button that can be pressed, wiping away the last century of history. But the core truth of the matter is that the endemic oppression, corruption and economic malaise of the Arab Middle East is not our problem to fix. A second “Cairo Speech” may sound pretty and even statesmanlike, but it will amount to very little.