The most surprising aspect of
The refreshing candor of Mr. Obama's remarks on the peace process were reflected in his prescriptions for reformulating U.S. policy in light of the mass pro-democracy movements sweeping the Arab world. Mr. Obama acknowledged that the U.S. initially was slow to support protesters in
That policy shift, said Mr. Obama, is already reflected in the withdrawal of 100,000 troops from Iraq so far and the end of any U.S. combat role there by the end of year. In Afghanistan, Mr. Obama said, the momentum of the Taliban has been broken, paving the way for the eventual departure of U.S. and
Mr. Obama has been criticized both at home and in the Arab world for a sense of drift and a lack of consistency in U.S. foreign policy, complaints he had obviously taken to heart when he took pains to reiterate that while America's approach would be guided by an overarching commitment to democratic change in the region, each country was different and demanded a unique response. For Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring, and Egypt, one of America's most important allies, he promised both political and economic support for a peaceful transition to democracy. Specifically, he said the U.S. would forgive $1 billion in Egyptian debt to help its new government make a fresh start and pledged another $1 billion to an economic development fund to foster jobs and growth in the region.
Mr. Obama said Iran is also attempting to take advantage of the turmoil in Bahrain, a close U.S. ally that is also home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet. But he insisted that mass arrests and the use of brute force there won't make calls for reform go away, and he all but ridiculed that government's offer of talks with the protesters its soldiers have been attacking by saying there can be no real dialogue if the opposition leaders are all in jail. In Yemen, another U.S. ally in the war on terror, Mr. Obama said President