In light of Obama’s trip to Indonesia, Roger Hardy, author of The Muslim Revolt: A Journey Through Political Islam, looks at the administration’s attempts to wins the “hearts and minds” of the Muslim world in an op-ed on the BBC.
Of course, one of the signature moments in the first months of Obama’s presidency was his speech in Cairo offering a “new beginning.” However, as Hardy points out “recent polls in that, in key parts of the Muslim world, [Obama’s] credibility has slumped. In part this is because Obama has followed the policies of the Bush administration.” Hardy writes:
Although President Obama has made some crucial changes – prohibiting torture, and banishing the term “war on terror” from official discourse – he has stuck with many of the security policies of his predecessor.
Covert operations in Afghanistan – fresh details of which were revealed by Mr Woodward – have been stepped up.
Issues surrounding the status of prisoners in Guantanamo, and whether and where they should stand trial, are unresolved.
Strikes by Predator drones against suspected al-Qaeda militants in Pakistan have increased.
Hardy concludes by writing:
Offering an outstretched hand to the Muslim world – whether in Cairo or Jakarta – is a sign of a president reluctant to put all his faith in military power.
He believes global problems require “soft-power” solutions, not just Predator strikes.
But two years after his election, many in the Muslim world and beyond have yet to be persuaded he can deliver.