Obama has always been on the wrong side of history.
The text of the speech was largely inconsequential in the same way that most of the words that scroll across the teleprompters of politicians are. In politics, the speech is often the medium while the timing, the audience and the location are the message. And the message was that the Brotherhood’s hour had come.
Obama was following through on an idea that had long been an article of faith on the left. The idea was that the United States had invested in a defunct status quo and that our biggest problems were our allies. The only way out was to toss them all overboard.
Generations of diplomats had griped from their walled compounds in Riyadh, Kuwait City or Doha that many of our problems in the region would go away if Israel somehow went away. But this was bigger. It involved dumping every single allied government in the region to start fresh with new governments elected through popular democracy and enjoying popular support. It would be a new beginning. And a new beginning was also the title of the Cairo speech.
The idea wasn’t new, but it was right up there with proposals to unilaterally abandon our nuclear arsenal or dedicate ten percent of the budget to foreign aid; ideas that a lot of diplomats liked, but that they knew no one would ever be crazy enough to pull the trigger on.