Obama’s Cairo speech – Full Text

Courtesy of the Christian Science Monitor here is the full text of President Obama’s speech:

Obama’s speech in Cairo: full text

The president, speaking at Cairo University, called for a ‘new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world.’
By International Editor | 06.04.09

President Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo, as prepared for delivery. This text was provided by the White House and may not have been delivered word for word, as printed here:

I am honored to be in the timeless city of Cairo, and to be hosted by two remarkable institutions. For over a thousand years, Al-Azhar has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning, and for over a century, Cairo University has been a source of Egypt’s advancement. Together, you represent the harmony between tradition and progress. I am grateful for your hospitality, and the hospitality of the people of Egypt. I am also proud to carry with me the goodwill of the American people, and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country: assalaamu alaykum.

We meet at a time of tension between the United States and Muslims around the world – tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of co-existence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.

Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims. The attacks of September 11th, 2001 and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights. This has bred more fear and mistrust.

So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, and who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end.

I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.

I do so recognizing that change cannot happen overnight. No single speech can eradicate years of mistrust, nor can I answer in the time that I have all the complex questions that brought us to this point. But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly the things we hold in our hearts, and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground. As the Holy Koran tells us, “Be conscious of God and speak always the truth.” That is what I will try to do – to speak the truth as best I can, humbled by the task before us, and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart.

Part of this conviction is rooted in my own experience. I am a Christian, but my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims. As a boy, I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and the fall of dusk. As a young man, I worked in Chicago communities where many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith.

As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam. It was Islam – at places like Al-Azhar University – that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires; timeless poetry and cherished music; elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation. And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.

I know, too, that Islam has always been a part of America’s story. The first nation to recognize my country was Morocco. In signing the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796, our second President John Adams wrote, “The United States has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Muslims.” And since our founding, American Muslims have enriched the United States. They have fought in our wars, served in government, stood for civil rights, started businesses, taught at our Universities, excelled in our sports arenas, won Nobel Prizes, built our tallest building, and lit the Olympic Torch. And when the first Muslim-American was recently elected to Congress, he took the oath to defend our Constitution using the same Holy Koran that one of our Founding Fathers – Thomas Jefferson – kept in his personal library.

So I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn’t. And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.

But that same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of America. Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire. The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known. We were born out of revolution against an empire. We were founded upon the ideal that all are created equal, and we have shed blood and struggled for centuries to give meaning to those words – within our borders, and around the world. We are shaped by every culture, drawn from every end of the Earth, and dedicated to a simple concept: E pluribus unum: “Out of many, one.”

Much has been made of the fact that an African-American with the name Barack Hussein Obama could be elected President. But my personal story is not so unique. The dream of opportunity for all people has not come true for everyone in America, but its promise exists for all who come to our shores – that includes nearly seven million American Muslims in our country today who enjoy incomes and education that are higher than average.

Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one’s religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state of our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That is why the U.S. government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, and to punish those who would deny it.

So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America. And I believe that America holds within her the truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share common aspirations – to live in peace and security; to get an education and to work with dignity; to love our families, our communities, and our God. These things we share. This is the hope of all humanity.

Of course, recognizing our common humanity is only the beginning of our task. Words alone cannot meet the needs of our people. These needs will be met only if we act boldly in the years ahead; and if we understand that the challenges we face are shared, and our failure to meet them will hurt us all.

For we have learned from recent experience that when a financial system weakens in one country, prosperity is hurt everywhere. When a new flu infects one human being, all are at risk. When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon, the risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations. When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains, people are endangered across an ocean. And when innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective conscience. That is what it means to share this world in the 21st century. That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings.

This is a difficult responsibility to embrace. For human history has often been a record of nations and tribes subjugating one another to serve their own interests. Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners of it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; progress must be shared.

That does not mean we should ignore sources of tension. Indeed, it suggests the opposite: we must face these tensions squarely. And so in that spirit, let me speak as clearly and plainly as I can about some specific issues that I believe we must finally confront together.

The first issue that we have to confront is violent extremism in all of its forms.

In Ankara, I made clear that America is not – and never will be – at war with Islam. We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security. Because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women, and children. And it is my first duty as President to protect the American people.

The situation in Afghanistan demonstrates America’s goals, and our need to work together. Over seven years ago, the United States pursued al Qaeda and the Taliban with broad international support. We did not go by choice, we went because of necessity. I am aware that some question or justify the events of 9/11. But let us be clear: al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day. The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody. And yet Al Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale. They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach. These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with.

Make no mistake: we do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We seek no military bases there. It is agonizing for America to lose our young men and women. It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict. We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can. But that is not yet the case.

That’s why we’re partnering with a coalition of forty-six countries. And despite the costs involved, America’s commitment will not weaken. Indeed, none of us should tolerate these extremists. They have killed in many countries. They have killed people of different faiths – more than any other, they have killed Muslims. Their actions are irreconcilable with the rights of human beings, the progress of nations, and with Islam. The Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind; and whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind. The enduring faith of over a billion people is so much bigger than the narrow hatred of a few. Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism – it is an important part of promoting peace.

We also know that military power alone is not going to solve the problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That is why we plan to invest $1.5 billion each year over the next five years to partner with Pakistanis to build schools and hospitals, roads and businesses, and hundreds of millions to help those who have been displaced. And that is why we are providing more than $2.8 billion to help Afghans develop their economy and deliver services that people depend upon.

Let me also address the issue of Iraq. Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world. Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible. Indeed, we can recall the words of Thomas Jefferson, who said: “I hope that our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be.”

Today, America has a dual responsibility: to help Iraq forge a better future – and to leave Iraq to Iraqis. I have made it clear to the Iraqi people that we pursue no bases, and no claim on their territory or resources. Iraq’s sovereignty is its own. That is why I ordered the removal of our combat brigades by next August. That is why we will honor our agreement with Iraq’s democratically-elected government to remove combat troops from Iraqi cities by July, and to remove all our troops from Iraq by 2012. We will help Iraq train its Security Forces and develop its economy. But we will support a secure and united Iraq as a partner, and never as a patron.

And finally, just as America can never tolerate violence by extremists, we must never alter our principles. 9/11 was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change course. I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year.

So America will defend itself respectful of the sovereignty of nations and the rule of law. And we will do so in partnership with Muslim communities which are also threatened. The sooner the extremists are isolated and unwelcome in Muslim communities, the sooner we will all be safer.

The second major source of tension that we need to discuss is the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world.

America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.

Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed – more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, ignorant, and hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction – or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews – is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.

On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people – Muslims and Christians – have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations – large and small – that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.

For decades, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It is easy to point fingers – for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought by Israel’s founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond. But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: the only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.

That is in Israel’s interest, Palestine’s interest, America’s interest, and the world’s interest. That is why I intend to personally pursue this outcome with all the patience that the task requires. The obligations that the parties have agreed to under the Road Map are clear. For peace to come, it is time for them – and all of us – to live up to our responsibilities.

Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America’s founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It’s a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered.

Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build. The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people. Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have responsibilities. To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, and to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, and recognize Israel’s right to exist.

At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel’s right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine’s. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.

Israel must also live up to its obligations to ensure that Palestinians can live, and work, and develop their society. And just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel’s security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.

Finally, the Arab States must recognize that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities. The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems. Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state; to recognize Israel’s legitimacy; and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past.

America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs. We cannot impose peace. But privately, many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away. Likewise, many Israelis recognize the need for a Palestinian state. It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true.

Too many tears have flowed. Too much blood has been shed. All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear; when the Holy Land of three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed (peace be upon them) joined in prayer.

The third source of tension is our shared interest in the rights and responsibilities of nations on nuclear weapons.

This issue has been a source of tension between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran. For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my country, and there is indeed a tumultuous history between us. In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically-elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians. This history is well known. Rather than remain trapped in the past, I have made it clear to Iran’s leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward. The question, now, is not what Iran is against, but rather what future it wants to build.

It will be hard to overcome decades of mistrust, but we will proceed with courage, rectitude and resolve. There will be many issues to discuss between our two countries, and we are willing to move forward without preconditions on the basis of mutual respect. But it is clear to all concerned that when it comes to nuclear weapons, we have reached a decisive point. This is not simply about America’s interests. It is about preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead this region and the world down a hugely dangerous path.

I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons. That is why I strongly reaffirmed America’s commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons. And any nation – including Iran – should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That commitment is at the core of the Treaty, and it must be kept for all who fully abide by it. And I am hopeful that all countries in the region can share in this goal.

The fourth issue that I will address is democracy.

I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.

That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.

There is no straight line to realize this promise. But this much is clear: governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments – provided they govern with respect for all their people.

This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they are out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. No matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who hold power: you must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.

The fifth issue that we must address together is religious freedom.

Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance. We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition. I saw it firsthand as a child in Indonesia, where devout Christians worshiped freely in an overwhelmingly Muslim country. That is the spirit we need today. People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind, heart, and soul. This tolerance is essential for religion to thrive, but it is being challenged in many different ways.

Among some Muslims, there is a disturbing tendency to measure one’s own faith by the rejection of another’s. The richness of religious diversity must be upheld – whether it is for Maronites in Lebanon or the Copts in Egypt. And fault lines must be closed among Muslims as well, as the divisions between Sunni and Shia have led to tragic violence, particularly in Iraq.

Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together. We must always examine the ways in which we protect it. For instance, in the United States, rules on charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation. That is why I am committed to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfill zakat.

Likewise, it is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit – for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear. We cannot disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism.

Indeed, faith should bring us together. That is why we are forging service projects in America that bring together Christians, Muslims, and Jews. That is why we welcome efforts like Saudi Arabian King Abdullah’s Interfaith dialogue and Turkey’s leadership in the Alliance of Civilizations. Around the world, we can turn dialogue into Interfaith service, so bridges between peoples lead to action – whether it is combating malaria in Africa, or providing relief after a natural disaster.

The sixth issue that I want to address is women’s rights.

I know there is debate about this issue. I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal, but I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is denied equality. And it is no coincidence that countries where women are well-educated are far more likely to be prosperous.

Now let me be clear: issues of women’s equality are by no means simply an issue for Islam. In Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia, we have seen Muslim-majority countries elect a woman to lead. Meanwhile, the struggle for women’s equality continues in many aspects of American life, and in countries around the world.

Our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons, and our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity – men and women – to reach their full potential. I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal, and I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice. That is why the United States will partner with any Muslim-majority country to support expanded literacy for girls, and to help young women pursue employment through micro-financing that helps people live their dreams.

Finally, I want to discuss economic development and opportunity.

I know that for many, the face of globalization is contradictory. The Internet and television can bring knowledge and information, but also offensive sexuality and mindless violence. Trade can bring new wealth and opportunities, but also huge disruptions and changing communities. In all nations – including my own – this change can bring fear. Fear that because of modernity we will lose of control over our economic choices, our politics, and most importantly our identities – those things we most cherish about our communities, our families, our traditions, and our faith.

But I also know that human progress cannot be denied. There need not be contradiction between development and tradition. Countries like Japan and South Korea grew their economies while maintaining distinct cultures. The same is true for the astonishing progress within Muslim-majority countries from Kuala Lumpur to Dubai. In ancient times and in our times, Muslim communities have been at the forefront of innovation and education.

This is important because no development strategy can be based only upon what comes out of the ground, nor can it be sustained while young people are out of work. Many Gulf States have enjoyed great wealth as a consequence of oil, and some are beginning to focus it on broader development. But all of us must recognize that education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century, and in too many Muslim communities there remains underinvestment in these areas. I am emphasizing such investments within my country. And while America in the past has focused on oil and gas in this part of the world, we now seek a broader engagement.

On education, we will expand exchange programs, and increase scholarships, like the one that brought my father to America, while encouraging more Americans to study in Muslim communities. And we will match promising Muslim students with internships in America; invest in on-line learning for teachers and children around the world; and create a new online network, so a teenager in Kansas can communicate instantly with a teenager in Cairo.

On economic development, we will create a new corps of business volunteers to partner with counterparts in Muslim-majority countries. And I will host a Summit on Entrepreneurship this year to identify how we can deepen ties between business leaders, foundations and social entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities around the world.

On science and technology, we will launch a new fund to support technological development in Muslim-majority countries, and to help transfer ideas to the marketplace so they can create jobs. We will open centers of scientific excellence in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and appoint new Science Envoys to collaborate on programs that develop new sources of energy, create green jobs, digitize records, clean water, and grow new crops. And today I am announcing a new global effort with the Organization of the Islamic Conference to eradicate polio. And we will also expand partnerships with Muslim communities to promote child and maternal health.

All these things must be done in partnership. Americans are ready to join with citizens and governments; community organizations, religious leaders, and businesses in Muslim communities around the world to help our people pursue a better life.

The issues that I have described will not be easy to address. But we have a responsibility to join together on behalf of the world we seek – a world where extremists no longer threaten our people, and American troops have come home; a world where Israelis and Palestinians are each secure in a state of their own, and nuclear energy is used for peaceful purposes; a world where governments serve their citizens, and the rights of all God’s children are respected. Those are mutual interests. That is the world we seek. But we can only achieve it together.

I know there are many – Muslim and non-Muslim – who question whether we can forge this new beginning. Some are eager to stoke the flames of division, and to stand in the way of progress. Some suggest that it isn’t worth the effort – that we are fated to disagree, and civilizations are doomed to clash. Many more are simply skeptical that real change can occur. There is so much fear, so much mistrust. But if we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move forward. And I want to particularly say this to young people of every faith, in every country – you, more than anyone, have the ability to remake this world.

All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart, or whether we commit ourselves to an effort – a sustained effort – to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children, and to respect the dignity of all human beings.

It is easier to start wars than to end them. It is easier to blame others than to look inward; to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path. There is also one rule that lies at the heart of every religion – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. This truth transcends nations and peoples – a belief that isn’t new; that isn’t black or white or brown; that isn’t Christian, or Muslim or Jew. It’s a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization, and that still beats in the heart of billions. It’s a faith in other people, and it’s what brought me here today.

We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written.

The Holy Koran tells us, “O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another.”

The Talmud tells us: “The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace.”

The Holy Bible tells us, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God’s vision. Now, that must be our work here on Earth. Thank you. And may God’s peace be upon you.

Advertisements

The continuing problem of Mexico

Shelby County, Alabama had the wake up call from hell this week, when they found five dead men in a stash house just outside of Birmingham, in Alabama’s wealthiest county.

Victims of the Gulf Cartel, these men were bound, gagged, tortured and finally killed. And before the assassins left, they slit the dead men’s throats. All because money came up missing.

Five illegal, Mexican immigrants and the now arrested perpetrators, all in the Shelby County Jail charged with capital murder.

Nice.

The Associated Press reported that the Atlanta DEA chief said, “One reason for that shift is the ability these days to “blend in in plain sight,”…. The flood of Hispanic immigrants into American communities to work construction and plant jobs helped provide cover for traffickers looking to expand into new markets or build hubs in quiet suburbs with fewer law officers than the big cities.”

These poor men apparently did not come here and find a better life. Neither the deceased nor the arrested. No, their lives are pretty much over.

But for the Sheriff of Shelby County, the nightmare has just begun. The Associated Press reports the sheriff believes, “”This is not an isolated incident. It is a standard business practice with this group of people, and it is simply going to be repeated,” he says. “I can’t predict whether it’s going to be repeated here or not, but it’s going to be repeated in communities throughout the United States whenever these disagreements occur.””

Shelby County, Alabama had the wake up call from hell this week, when they found five dead men in a stash house just outside of Birmingham, in Alabama’s wealthiest county.

Victims of the Gulf Cartel, these men were bound, gagged, tortured and finally killed. And before the assassins left, they slit the dead men’s throats. All because money came up missing.

Five illegal, Mexican immigrants and the now arrested perpetrators, all in the Shelby County Jail charged with capital murder.

Nice.

The Associated Press reported that the Atlanta DEA chief said, “One reason for that shift is the ability these days to “blend in in plain sight,”…. The flood of Hispanic immigrants into American communities to work construction and plant jobs helped provide cover for traffickers looking to expand into new markets or build hubs in quiet suburbs with fewer law officers than the big cities.”

These poor men apparently did not come here and find a better life. Neither the deceased nor the arrested. No, yjeir lives are pretty much over.

But for the Sheriff of Shelby County, the nightmare has just begun. The Associated Press reports the sheriff believes, “”This is not an isolated incident. It is a standard business practice with this group of people, and it is simply going to be repeated,” he says. “I can’t predict whether it’s going to be repeated here or not, but it’s going to be repeated in communities throughout the United States whenever these disagreements occur.””

On another note – there’s the flu.

The first cases of the new flu strain surfaced in Mexico in March, but the government believed it was just cases straggling at the end of the flu season. Then in April, more cases popped up in Mexico City and three other regions. When people began dying from it, Mexico realized it had a problem.

April 2, there was a 15% increase in flu cases in Veracruz, Mexico. Still no outreach for assistance from WHO or CDC.Characteristics of this flu were gastroenteritis and upper respiratory disease. There were also increases in pneumonia.

By April 6, according to Veratect, a biosurveillance company,

La Gloria, Perote Municipality, Veracruz State, Mexico. Sources characterized the event as a “strange” outbreak of acute respiratory infection, which led to bronchial pneumonia in some pediatric cases. According to a local resident, symptoms included fever, severe cough, and large amounts of phlegm. Health officials recorded 400 cases that sought medical treatment in the last week in La Gloria, which has a population of 3,000; officials indicated that 60% of the town’s population (approximately 1,800 cases) has been affected. No precise timeframe was provided, but sources reported that a local official had been seeking health assistance for the town since February.

It has only gotten worse since then. As widely reported, over 1400 cases have been detected in four regions of Mexico. Tourists returning from Mexico to the United States, Spain and New Zealand, are now showing signs of this new flu, which is a combination of swine, avian, and human flu.

In Mexico over 86 people have died.

Proactive Latin American countries are stopping travelers from Mexico and the United States in the airports and refusing entry to anyone with flu-like symptoms or fevers.

We are not doing that. Our “legal” border crossings with Mexico are in full swing. We are told not to worry, though there are people affected in five states here – Ohio, Kansas, Texas, California and New York. In at least three of these states, at least one infected individual had been to Mexico, some as tourists, one on business.

Though the CDC has now raised the health alert, the WHO has not yet banned travel to Mexico. No one in the U.S. has died yet, but it seems cases keep cropping up.Seems to me if you are a tourist or a businessman,  you shouldn’t catch the flu from the locals unless it is really easy to catch.

If Mexico’s first cases were in March and early April, could spring break travel have anything to do with their reluctance to seek help? Why are we not being more proactive, not politically correct?

For a timeline, visit the blog Biosurveillance and read why residents at the center of the outbreak, believe a local pig farm owned by Smithfield, is at the heart of the matter.

I have emailed the CDC and WHO to ask if it is wise to have the immigrant march on May 1 go through as planned, considering tens of thousands will be in close contact with one another, and the vast majority, at least in Chicago, are Mexican.

Updates if I hear from them.

You can go to the CDC website, the World Health Organization or the Pan American Health Organization to read the differing opinions which are nothing more than spin. WHO seems to be the most honest.

Clinton blames America’s drug users for Mexico’s drug war

The Latin American Herald Tribune quotes Clinton as saying,

“Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade,” Clinton told reporters earlier en route to Mexico. “Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the deaths of police officers, soldiers and civilians.”

She vowed that we would work “side by side” with Mexico to eradicate the traffickers, who Clinton referred to as “gangs.”

John McCain (R-AZ) called the problem an “existential threat,” and Joe Lieberman ((D-CT)  deemed “unacceptable” the fact that not all of the $700 million appropriated for equipment and training for the Mexican security forces has been distributed.

In the meantime, the Organized Drug Enforcement Task Force (ODETF), has said that though meth labs are declining in the .S. due to restriction of ingredients, meth use is rising due to increased distribution efforts of the Mexican Drug Cartels, termed DTO’s (Drug Trafficking Organizations), by the ODETF, who are suppling the Hispanic gangs as well as their own people throughout the country.

Clinton’s perspective, mirroring Mexico’s, that drug use is the cause of this war, is neglecting basic supply and demand laws. Demand tends to influence price, not necessarily use of a product.

The automakers said Americans wanted SUV’s and that’s why they sold them. But if they hadn’t engineered them, would we have even known it was possible to demand them?

If you had one grocery store in your neighborhood, you would go there. If they shut down, would you continue to go there and demand food?

I think not, and I think it would get you nowhere. Yet we Americans, who can’t stop smoking pot or doing meth or coke, are to blame for this problem.

Why is this different? In Mexico. both political parties are accusing each other of being in the pocket of the cartels. Mexico has had a known corruption problem for years and years. Their army is on the payroll, their prosecutors, their police, etc.

And we want to give them money for Blackhawk helicopters and arms and training?

If they legalized it, and kept it in line with current prices, would we still have this problem? Would the drug lords of Mexico and Columbia, still have a black market?

Or would they trade in their AK47s for pens and ride the legal wave to wealth and happiness while we grow our way out of our current economic problem?

I would guess the latter.

Once again – Obama dodges marijuana legalization question

In the first ever virtual town hall meeting from the White House, President Obama answered questions posed to him by the American people on the White House website. According to the website, 92,932 people have submitted 104,093 questions and cast 3,606,268 votes.

The moderator chose the most popular question, one from each of 11 categories, and asked the President who gave thoughtful, and for the most part, lengthy answers.

With the exception of one repeatedly answered question. Would you legalize marijuana, end the war on drugs, and allow states to benefit from the revenue.

Though over 7,000 people asked this question in four different categories, and it was the top question in each, the answer was flippant, and the answer was no, we will not grow our way out of this problem.

Tom Amianao, an assemblyman from San Francisco, has proposed AB390,


not only to address California’s growing economic crisis but, more importantly, to begin a rational public policy discussion about how best to regulate the state’s largest cash crop, estimated to be worth roughly $14 billion annually. Placing marijuana under the same regulatory system that now applies to alcohol represents the natural evolution of California’s laws and is in line with recent polls indicating strong support for decriminalizing marijuana.

To understand the reasoning behind AB390, it is helpful to understand how we got here. The state first prohibited marijuana in 1913. When Congress later passed the Controlled Substances Act in 1970, marijuana was temporarily labeled a “Schedule I substance” – an illegal drug with no approved medical purposes.

But Congress acknowledged that it did not know enough about marijuana to permanently classify it as Schedule I, so it created a presidential commission to review the research. In 1972, the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse advised Congress to remove criminal penalties on the possession and nonprofit distribution of marijuana.

“Neither the marijuana user nor the drug itself can be said to constitute a danger to public safety,” concluded the commission, led by then-Gov. Raymond Shafer of Pennsylvania. President Richard Nixon and Congress ignored the report. Since then, more than 14 million Americans have been arrested on marijuana charges and marijuana has remained listed as a Schedule I substance – actually treated by federal law as more dangerous than cocaine and methamphetamine.

Here in California, enforcement costs for marijuana offenses had become so high by 1975 that the Legislature decriminalized possession of small quantities in the Moscone Act, saving the state $100 million each year. In 1990, the California Research Advisory Panel urged further decriminalization, noting that “an objective consideration of marijuana shows that it is responsible for less damage to society and the individual than are alcohol and cigarettes.” By 1996, the medicinal benefits of marijuana had been well documented and California voters legalized the medical use of marijuana by passing Proposition 215. Thirteen states across the nation have since followed suit.

With U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announcing last week that the federal government will end raids on marijuana dispensaries in California and other states with medical marijuana laws, it is clear that the tide is turning. Fact regarding marijuana is finally overcoming fiction.

There may be disagreements about what direction to take, but it is clear to everyone involved that our current approach is not working. Regulation allows common-sense controls and takes the marijuana industry out of the hands of unregulated criminals.

I find Obama’s stance puzzling. This is the second time it was the top question, the first was during the transition, and the same thing happened then. Thoughtful answers to every question, but a terse, President Obama does not advocate legalization of marijuana.

Is this a democracy? Really?

Read the whole editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Bolivian president Evo Morales calls for legalization of coca

President Evo Morales is launching an international campaign to tout the benefits of the coca leaf and has been lobbying the UN to take it off of the list of prohibited substances.

Cocaine, which used to be an ingredient in Coca-Cola until the Pure Food and Drug Act was passed, is an appetite suppressant, controls altitude sickness and and an energy lift.

Coca-Cola (the cocaine helped give it its name), was originally an elixer as was Dr. Pepper (sans cocaine).

His appeal was in a New York Times editorial entitled Let Me Chew My Coca Leaves.

Note that chewing coca leaves is an ancient tradition for the Andean people dating back to the Incas. In fact its appetite suppression and energy attributes are what allowed the Spaniards to enslave the Inca Indians and cut down on the food they had to give them.

Read about his initiative here.

Amnesty for illegal immigrants? Solve this first…

USA Today had a story Monday about Mexican drug cartels setting up shop in 195 cities in the United States. They said the DEA seized more drug related cash in Atlanta ($30 million) than in Chicago ($18 million) or LA ($19 million).

And that’s not the half of it. The violence is in Atlanta too.

A Rhode Island man who owed the cartels $300,000 was found in the basement of a Georgia home, chained to a wall. He had been beaten, gagged and was dehydrated. The police captured his attackers as they fled the house.

Another man was kidnapped in Gwinett County but the family was working with police and when traffickers went to pick up the $2 million ransom, they were greeted by police.

Speaking of ransom, Reuters reports that Phoenix, Arizona is now the kidnap capital of the United States.

Hit men dressed in fake police tactical gear burst into a home in Phoenix, rake it with gunfire and execute a man.

Armed kidnappers snatch victims from cars and even a local shopping mall across the Phoenix valley for ransom….Execution style murders, violent home invasions, and a spiraling kidnap rate in Phoenix — where police reported an average of one abduction a day last year linked to Mexican crime — are not the only examples along the border.

In southern California, police have investigated cases of Americans abducted by armed groups tied to the Tijuana drug trade. One involved a businesswoman and her teenage daughter snatched in San Diego last year and held to ransom south of the border.

In south Texas, a live hand grenade traced back to a Mexican cartel stash was tossed onto the pool table of a bar frequented by off-duty police officers in January. The pin was left in it and the assailant fled.

The drug war is so bad in Mexico, Arizona State Police told Reuters that last November, “Mexican police officers pinned down in a raging gun battle in Nogales, Sonora, reached out to them with an urgent request for more bullets.”

And while we’re halfway across the world searching for training camps for al Qaeda, we need to look no further than our own doorstep for training camps that are bound to impact us on a fairly regular basis.

Dallas News reports that the training has taken place

at locations southwest of Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville; near the town of Abasolo, between Matamoros and Ciudad Victoria; just north of the Nuevo Laredo airport; and at a place called “Rancho Las Amarillas” near a rural community, China, that is close to the Nuevo León-Tamaulipas border.

Two other ranches used as training camps, both east of Matamoros, have clandestine landing strips for cocaine shipments originating in Colombia and destined for the United States via Texas, according to the officials and testimony.

They are used

to train cartel recruits – ranging from Mexican army deserters to American teenagers – who then carry out killings and other cartel assignments on both sides of the border, authorities say.

More frightening is that Mexican officials say the camps are heavily fortified and can even bring down planes. But the idea that American teenagers are trained as assassins is just plain scary.

In small towns along the Texas-Tamaulipas border, the Zetas operate with seeming impunity, driving late-model SUVs and carrying gold-plated rifles. Roadside altars are appearing that pay tribute to “Santa Muerte,” the Saint of Death, adorned with candles and Grim Reaper figurines. Residents regard them as a sign of cartel activity.

According to the witness testimony and interviews with U.S. and Mexican officials, training in the camps may range from a few weeks to months, and trainees have included American teenagers.

One of them is Rosalio Reta, 18, who was sentenced last year to 40 years in prison for a murder in Laredo. Mr. Reta’s career as a cartel hitman began at age 13, he told investigators. Authorities say he may have been involved in as many as 30 execution-style murders in the U.S. and Mexico.

Last year, Mr. Reta gave Laredo police Detective Roberto García an account of how he and other high school-age boys were trained as teenage hitmen for the Zetas. Mr. Reta told Laredo authorities he spent months training under Mateo Díaz López, “Comandante Teo,” an alleged top Zeta member arrested last year in the state of Tabasco on drug and weapons charges.

Mr. Reta’s confession led to the discovery of three clandestine cells in Laredo, allegedly carrying out assignments for reputed cartel leader Miguel Treviño.

“I know we’re fighting terrorism throughout the world … but here along the border the narco-terrorists operate on both sides of the border, and so far it’s gone largely unnoticed by Washington,” said Webb County Assistant District Attorney Jesús Guillén, who prosecuted Mr. Reta.

Must be largely unnoticed because I don’t see how you’ll do a background check on these people. And they pay well.
According to the Dallas News,

Mr. Cárdenas used the ranch to raise cattle as well as to train his personal militia, many of them former army soldiers lured by promises of higher pay, according to the testimony. Pay started at about $300 a week but would double within six months – far higher than salaries for soldiers or police. Pay for hitmen and bodyguards began at $1,000 per week, according to testimony.

They also execute and dispose of their enemies there.

And if you’d like a comprehensive picture of this problem, go no further than our own government’s Congressional Resource Service, where you will find a 21 page report for Congress on the problem entitled Mexican Drug Cartels.

I think the Webb County Assistant District Attorney Jesús Guillén used the wrong adjective. Unnoticed isn’t the problem. I think ignored would be far more accurate. Guess stopping this problem just doesn’t fit into the grand scheme of things.

I hate to foretell the future to our illustrious congresspeople, but like neighborhoods where gangs slowly take over unnoticed, countries are the same way.

I’d prefer the United States didn’t turn into Columbia, and since Guzman, the head of one of the drug cartels in Mexico was just put on the billionaire list by Forbes, I would suggest the only way to quickly take the wind out of the sails of this pirate ship from south of the border, is to legalize the stuff they sell (90 percent of the cocaine, 80 percent of the methamphetamine and half of the marijuana), and be done with it.

Let Americans reap the benefits of the drug trade – legally, and keep our cities safe, cheaply.

And as for amnesty? Don’t even raise the topic until you solve this problem, and can guarntee the American people that the only people you are helping to gain citizenship, are the ones who are truly here to get a better life, want to work, pay taxes, raise their children, and assimilate.

I can handle your poor, huddled masses but I can’t forget when Castro decided to let people leave Cuba if they wanted to, and the ones he let leave were the inmates from his prisons and mental hospitals.

Get real people, we need a plan and amnesty ain’t it.

Sign letter to Obama regarding Palestine

Jewish Voices for Peace and Just Foreign Policy teamed up to get signatures urging President Obama to end the blockade, talk to everyone and jump on this chance to actually have peace in that area of the world.

%d bloggers like this: