Faceoff: Was Obama's appearance on Arab TV a good idea?

Yes, America has committed itself to a progressive relationship with the world. His appearance on Al-Arabiya is the first step to showing willing.

By Aaron Davis

Last week, Obama made his first televised appearance as president, much to Matt Lauer's chagrin.

He didn't come to "The Today Show," show up at Jon Stewart's desk, or grace Anderson Cooper with his presence. No, he appeared on an Arab news channel, spreading his message of change to the Muslim world.

Good move, sir.

Some have called Obama's action politically backward, as the network, Al-Arabiya, apparently garners as much respect in the Muslim world as does the National Enquirer in America. One should look beyond the station's apparent lack of credibility, however, and realize that, for the first time in more than a decade, an American president appeared peacefully on television in the Middle East and told the people, essentially, that we're amenable to a cessation of hostilities as long as they are.

The action was symbolic: We showed Europe, our allies, that we are not a bunch of slow-thinking hardheaded belligerents and we showed the Middle East that we're not above them - that we really can all get along.

Most importantly, however, Obama leveled a condition for peace - they have to play nice as well. This statement, more than any other, established America as a mature and respectable state again and may begin to overshadow the previous famous line from the War on Terror: "Bring it on."

Well, yes, "bring it on, man." Bring some peace. Bring some understanding. Bring an end to the violence and killing because frankly everyone is sick of it. This is the 21st century; let's go colonize the moon, cure cancer, feed the world and stop blowing each other up.

Obama's appearance on Al-Arabiya may be a first step on the long road. Let us hope there are many more.

No, Al-Arabiya is a joke that only proves that America is out of touch with the Muslim world.

By Andrew Rudansky

While most people in America see President Barack Obama's recent appearance on the Arab language Al-Arabiya television network as a step forward in Western-Islamic relations, most of the Arab world found it to be a major political blunder.

The problem wasn't what Obama said on air, but rather where he chose to say it.

The main donor to television network Al-Arabiya is the royal House of Saud. These backers have made the programming of Al-Arabiya skewed in favor of Saudi Arabia and, to a lesser extent, the U.S. This has caused most of the Muslim world to dismiss the network as a propaganda vehicle. Before President Obama's speech, Al-Arabiya was most famous for showing members of the House of Saud exiting limos and for constantly bashing the Shiite government of Iran.

Al-Arabiya's audience is primarily limited to supporters of the House of Saud and is pretty much ignored everywhere else. Highly inflammatory, with little credibility in the Islamic community, Al-Arabiya is hardly a source of objective, responsible media in which to broadcast to the entirety of the Muslim world.

President Obama's choice of Al-Arabiya to broadcast his message shows either a complete ignorance of the Muslim world or, worse, a pandering to the Saudi government, an oil-rich ally with a substandard civil rights record. For Obama's appearance on Saudi television is an unspoken approval of Saudi policies and serves to alienate most of the Muslim community, a society that disagrees with much of Saudi policies and their radical Wahhabi affiliations.

Obama's choice of Al-Arabiya highlights America's dependent relationship with the Saudi state; one that Saudi Arabia already abused during the 1970s oil embargo.

The president's decision - a step in line with the previous administration - is hardly the "change" in foreign policy promised during his campaign.

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