President Obama gave his first formal sit-down interview since he took office, with an Arab television station, the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya. He did his best to project a tone of understanding and openness, saying right from the get-go that he told his Middle East envoy George Mitchell to "start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating." He reiterated the United States' support for Israel, but also said he continued to plan on appearing in a Muslim Middle East capital in his first 100 days of office. When asked whether the U.S. could ever live with a nuclear Iran, Obama replied that avoiding a Middle East arms race was key, but that "it is important for us to be willing to talk to Iran, to express very clearly where our differences are, but where there are potential avenues for progress."
Obama's tack was to make a conciliatory attitude toward the Muslim world seem the most deadly threat to terrorists and their efforts to draw followers. He said men like Osama bin Laden "seem nervous" because in the face of a new attitude toward America, "their ideas are bankrupt."
"My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy. We sometimes make mistakes. We have not been perfect," Obama explained. "But if you look at the track record, as you say, America was not born as a colonial power, and that the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago, there's no reason why we can't restore that."
Obama on Al-Arabiya [HuffPo]