Keynote addresses misunderstandings and concerns
Macky Auditorium was packed on Monday morning as people of all ages gathered for the keynote panel on U.S. and Middle East Relations.
U.S. Middle Eastern Diplomat Wendy Chamberlin addressed the audience on issues of misunderstanding that have deeply affected the relations between the U.S. and Middle East.
“Peace is possible, and it’s not that far,” Chamberlin said.
Chamberlin, who is currently the president of the Middle East Institute, has served in a variety of U.S. diplomatic positions from 1975-2004, most notably as the first female ambassador for Pakistan.
Her speech focused largely around an underlying problem that exists between the Muslim community and the United States. That problem is a deep misunderstanding of how Americans views the Muslim community and how we shape our foreign policy around those beliefs.
A second key point from the speech discussed how our politicians focus on one extremely small fraction of the Muslim community (the extremists and militant Jihadists) instead of focusing on the larger non-violent population.
Chamberlin also addressed U.S. foreign policy, specifically the War on Terror.
“To Muslims, the War on Terror sounds more like a war on Islam, their culture and a war on them personally,” Chamberlin said. “It gives them the impression that anyone with a different opinion is against us and a terrorist.”
This projection on the Muslim faith in addition to a history of missteps in action and double standards has severely damaged U.S. relations with the Middle East.
“The developing anger against the U.S. is not as President Bush says ‘because they hate our freedom,’ but because our actions have not matched our policy,” Chamberlin said.
Members of the Muslim community have voiced their doubts about the U.S. dedication to supporting democracy in their nation. According to Chamberlin, America’s investment in individual leaders instead of democratic institutions only backs up this opinion.
Chamberlin concluded her speech with advice for the next president to educate our own population on the true nature of the Muslim community, make certain our policies show respect for others and communicate respect for Muslims.
Audience members agreed with Chamberlin’s suggestion to the president. “I felt she was right on track. We need to change foreign policy to win back credibility with Arab world,” said Don Rudy, an audience member and resident from Minnesota.
Students who attended the Keynote panel were also impressed with Chamberlin’s speech.
“I thought it was very informative, clear and well thought out. I was impressed with her as a public speaker,” said Chelsea Ayers, a junior classics major.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Brittany Sovine at Brittany.Sovine@colorado.edu.