President Obama's speech in Cairo was a courageous statement of his political philosophy which, according to various sources, he had been working on since his campaign. It highlighted a strategy that his administration intends to follow. According to Dr Brezezinski, the speech redefined: "What America means to the world, how America views the world and how Islam and America should view each other." After 9/11 the Bush administration had pursued a policy built around the formulation of "either you're with us or you're against us." The perception in the Islamic world was that the longstanding grievances of the Muslims were sidelined by the US in its pursuit of Al-Qaeda. This view accentuated the faultlines between the Muslim world and the US, thereby, unifying Islamic moderates and extremists and inadvertently giving the equally simplistic "Clash of Civilisations" philosophy an opportunity to flourish. President Obama, in his attempt to win the hearts and minds of the Muslim world candidly addressed in his speech the core issues that were impeding the process of harmonising relations between the latter and the US. He dwelt upon the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. He admitted that each side had something to be apologetic about, i.e., the removal of a democratically elected government in Iran by the US (1953), the war in Iraq being that of choice, Israeli settlements, Palestinian violence, etc., however, the time had come to bury the differences of the past, focus on affinities and move forward. There has, however, been scepticism and criticism regarding the speech. Some feel that this is mere rhetoric while the overall American agenda to dominate remains the same. Others subscribe to the view that there has been no concrete action to substantiate what the president iterated in Cairo as genuine. And yet others believe that if Obama was being so candid and honest then why was the Kashmir problem not addressed while speaking about Pakistan and the issues of this region? Obama's sincerity can be gauged by the expected fallout to his speech in the US. There were two points, in particular, that were addressed that no American politician, let alone a president, has had the courage to bring up so openly. First, he publicly advocated the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine: "America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity and a state of their own." While he assured the world that the Israel-US "bond is unbreakable" he proceeded to condemn Israeli settlements in the West Bank which, some analysts went as far as to say, suggested that the role of the US in the region would eventually morph from a staunchly pro-Israeli position to that of a mediator. Furthermore, regarding Iran, he stated: "Any country - including Iran - should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty." These two points are worrisome to some of the most influential and hardline lobbyists in Washington. Their degree of influence was recently illustrated in John Newhouse's article, Diplomacy, Inc., where he cites an incident in March when lobbyists derailed the appointment of Charles Freeman as chair of the National Intelligence Council because of his views on US policies on Israel. Some elements of the press in the US began their assault on the speech by picking on President Obama's view that, "no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other." They consider this as the US giving a stamp of approval to the dictators of the region. Despite its unquestionable, honest and forthright affirmation on some of the most serious problems of our times, President Obama's speech will be criticised by the more radical elements in the US as well as the Muslim world. The sincerity of the speech cannot be denied. It ranged from the US president's personal experiences to universal issues and was a courageous outline of a strategy that he intends to follow. President Obama has attempted to rectify the distortions in the policies pursued by the previous administration and has laid the basis of a more imaginative and constructive foreign policy. However, some commentators have described the address as reminiscent of Wilsonian idealism and maintain that the road ahead in the way of implementation is strewn with problems and pitfalls. The president has set an extremely high benchmark for himself. For instance, seeking "a world in which no nation holds nuclear weapons," though in accordance with the stipulations of the NPT, is, under present circumstances, difficult to achieve. In essence, the thrust of President Obama's speech in Cairo is founded on the need to craft a just and equitable world order underpinned by durable peace and stability. There is, in fact, no other alternative in this globalised world of interdependence. The writer is the editor-in-chief of Criterion Quarterly. E-mail: