Do Middle Easterners Care About Obama's Speech?

By Jeffrey Goldberg

If you follow the Twitter Machine (especially the Middle East Twitter Machine), you'll see many angry tweets from people in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other countries informing us that they don't care about Obama's speech, and not only do they not care, they also don't give a shit, etc. etc.
I don't particularly believe them. On my last trip through the Middle East, I expected to find a widespread lack of interest in America and its role in the region -- after all, the Arab Spring is about them, not us -- all the usual tropes. Instead, I found that people wanted to talk about America, sometimes endlessly. Occasional praise for America (very occasional) was mixed with angry denunciations, complaints, advice, and, of course, requests, for all manner of aid and support. I think these expressions of disinterest represent a pose, an understandable pose, but still a pose. America remains an important player in the Middle East, and a huge presence in the minds of Middle Easterners.  

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/05/do-middle-easterners-care-about-obamas-speech/239148/