There was the president of the United States, introduced as Barack Hussein Obama, standing before the Turkish parliament, reaching out to the Muslim world. The president, in Istanbul, in the midst of a town hall meeting with largely young Muslims, taking their questions one by one. The president, shoes off, walking solemnly through the great Blue Mosque.
The facts on the ground in trouble spots across the Muslim world are hard to change. But President Obama is trying hard right now, for starters at least, to change the music, the message, the tone of the United States toward the world’s Muslim populations — and mend a rocky relationship that has plagued and cost the United States, and much of the Muslim world, dearly.
Can he do it? Can put it on a new path? This hour, On Point: Obama’s message and the Muslim world.
You can join the conversation. What do you make of President Obama’s outreach? Is it the right message? Can it change the context? Tilt it toward a better day?
Joining us from Washington is Robin Wright, longtime diplomatic correspondent for The Washington Post, currently a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She’s the author of five books, most recently “Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East,” now out in paperback.
From London, we’re joined by Ali Allawi, Iraqi Minister of Defense and Minister of Trade from 2003 to 2004, following the U.S. invasion, and Minister of Finance in the Iraqi Transitional Government from 2005 to 2006. He’s the author of “The Crisis of Islamic Civilization” and “The Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War, Losing the Peace.”
From Washington, we’re joined by Bulent Aliriza, director of the Turkey Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and host of “Beyond the Atlantic,” a current affairs show on Turkish Radio and Television. He is also co-director of the CSIS Caspian Sea Energy Project.
And from Chicago, we’re joined by Rami Khouri. Based in Lebanon and currently traveling in the U.S., he is director of the Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at American University of Beirut and editor-at-large for the Lebanese English-language paper The Daily Star.