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Last week President Obama introduced the new U.S. State Department, including two new special envoys – George Mitchell to the Middle East and Richard Holbrooke to Afghanistan/Pakistan. Early this week the President gave his first sit-in interview in power – to an Arab TV network. He has promised a new partnership with the Arab world based on mutual respect. As groundbreaking as this may seem – compared to the Bush administration’s approach – Pepe Escobar argues that the overall strategy may not be substantially different.

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Pepe Escobar, born in Brazil is the roving correspondent for Asia Times and an analyst for The Real News Network. He's been a foreign correspondent since 1985, based in London, Milan, Los Angeles, Paris, Singapore, and Bangkok. Since the late 1990s, he has specialized in covering the arc from the Middle East to Central Asia, including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He has made frequent visits to Iran and is the author of Globalistan and also Red Zone Blues: A Snapshot of Baghdad During the Surge both published by Nimble Books in 2007.