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Throughout the Middle East, a Need to Change Course

Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman speaking at Georgetown University.

“America’s policy in the Middle East begins with our understanding that the problems now plaguing the region have tangled roots."

“The United States cares about the Middle East because of the economic, political, and security interests we have, the many friendships we have forged, and the rich spiritual and ethnic traditions we have inherited. ... So it should not be surprising that we are both alarmed and moved to act by the upheaval that now roils these ancient lands,” said Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman.

“America’s policy in the Middle East begins with our understanding that the problems now plaguing the region have tangled roots:”

“Fear and anger drive too many people in too many places into the snare of zero-sum thinking, thereby fueling conflict and playing into the hands of all who would harm us.

There is a need throughout the Middle East to change course and begin moving in the direction of common ground. But quite frankly for that to happen, the region’s leaders must live up to their responsibilities. The international community must put aside its divisions and exert a more positive influence. And the United States must help to show the way.”

We reject the argument that inter-cultural and inter-religious cooperation in the Middle East is an illusion. But we also understand that lasting stability without compromise is not possible, said Under Secretary Sherman:

“To be a builder in the Middle East is not to view the region through rose-colored glasses. It is to understand that in a place with the Middle East’s history, geography, and demographics, a healthy dose of tolerance and inter-communal give and take is essential. Efforts by one group to dominate all others, whether that group is a political party or an ethnic or religious faction, will never succeed for long. To be guided by hate is to go nowhere.”

“America’s policy is to assist those who believe, as we do, that people of different nationalities, ethnicities and creeds can live alongside one another constructively and in peace,” said Under Secretary Sherman. “That is our vision for the future. The Middle East, like other parts of the world, has its share of dividers and destroyers. The United States casts its lot with the problem solvers, the healers and the builders.”