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A 10-year truce between Islam and the West

Obama should follow his speech in Cairo with a global conference and a call for a 10-year hudna.

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From the bosom of the world Muslim community, two contrasting voices have been distinctly heard in the wake of President Obama's speech in Cairo. One, arising from the extremists, exhorts jihad. The other, arising from throngs of approving moderates, wants his promises delivered. The voices of the extremists were comparatively feeble, and that is of the utmost significance: It means that the overwhelming majority of the Muslim community is poised to accept new proposals coming from Washington, provided they are bold and far-reaching.

Can Mr. Obama translate his impressive rhetoric into concrete policies? As Roula Khalaf wrote in the Financial Times: "Mr. Obama called for a joint effort to create a new world where extremists no longer threatened Americans, US troops returned home, Israelis and Palestinians lived in secure states of their own and nuclear energy was used only for peaceful purposes. It is an ambitious vision that would transform the Middle East, but it also raises expectations far beyond the US's ability to deliver."

Far beyond? It depends. If Obama extricates himself from the administration's bureaucracy, if he turns a deaf ear to the well-known lobbies infesting the capital, if he follows his own instinct, then, "yes, he can."


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