While America’s top political brains–Bush, Obama, Clinton, and McCain–spent the week trying to score petty points on each other, Jordan’s King Abdullah reminded us all of what statecraft is all about. Here are some sound bites from his speech at the World Economic Forum in Egypt.
We need to ask ourselves, how much further ahead would we be today, if these last eight years had been years of peace and stability? If, all this time, a sovereign Palestine had been building and thriving? If extremists and external forces had not had this issue to manipulate? If global investors and customers had been able to approach our region with even greater business confidence? If the Middle East were, already, the united economic powerhouse it can and should be – a regional community, speeding growth, ending poverty, creating jobs and securing the future, the future for which our young people are preparing so hard?
Let us not stand here in eight years, or even one year, thinking, ‘if only’. We can begin a different future, right now.
After sixty years of wars, exhaustion, wars, intifadas, economic collapse, and more wars, here is a voice that says confidently, yes, we can have peace in the Middle East, and we can have it now, this year.
We cannot overestimate the cost of regional conflict even as we move forward. This room is full of success stories that give evidence of our people’s tremendous capability. Many of you have played leading roles, in a challenging environment, to help our region and economies advance. But a universal truth applies: To make gains against the hurdles, the citizens of conflict areas must work far harder, risk far more, than those who live in regions of stability and peace.
We must not accept such a disadvantage. And this year, God willing, we will change our place in the equation.
The full text of this speech is |here|. The Jordan Times prints official or unofficial transcripts of the King’s speeches as they have them, but their archives are unpredictable. The King’s own website http://www.kingabdullah.jo/ is another good resource.