“One of President Obama's first official acts was to grant an interview to Al Arabiya, the Arabic language network that broadcasts worldwide. It signified, aides explained, the new page that Mr. Obama meant to turn in relations with the Arab and Muslim worlds.
Just as he did last week in Europe, Mr. Obama began the conversation by criticizing America. Asked about relations between Israel and the Palestinians and the appointment of George Mitchell as special envoy, Mr. Obama said, ‘what I told [Mr. Mitchell] is start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating - in the past on some of these issues - and we don't always know all the factors that are involved. So let's listen.’
Throughout the rest of the interview, Mr. Obama returned again and again to the word ‘respect,’ stressing that his administration - unlike previous American presidents - would base relations with the Muslim world on ‘mutual respect.’
In Europe, the president returned to this leitmotif, telling his audience that ‘there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive’ toward Europe. He went on to note that Europeans had responded with an anti-Americanism that ‘is at once casual but can also be insidious.’ That sounds awfully high-mindedly evenhanded - except that in Mr. Obama's telling, America's arrogance comes first. If that were truly the case, who could blame the Europeans for feeling resentful?”
I think many of these critics fail to understand what public diplomacy is and the fact that the previous administration failed to reach out to the world and practice effective public diplomacy. President Obama addressing these issues and revealing that the U.S. should engage in a dialogue instead of dictating and conduct diplomacy with mutual respect has been called apologizing for America and showing weakness.
Do you think President Obama is apologizing and showing weakness on the world stage? Or is he practicing good public diplomacy?