A year ago this month, President Obama declared to an audience at Cairo University that he had "come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world." In a surprisingly bold speech that quoted the Koran repeatedly and reached out to Arabs and Muslims who had grown increasingly disaffected with American foreign policy, Obama candidly addressed the issues of Iraq, Afghanistan and democracy, and seized the moment by acknowledging both the Palestinian and Israeli historical narratives.
His words were widely judged a success. Four months later, a Gallup poll reported that a majority of the populations of Algeria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Bahrain all said relations with the United States had improved. Even more important, the anger toward America that was so vitriolic during the George W. Bush administration had subsided.