When it comes to Obama’s speech before the UN, Brett Schaefer and Nile Gardiner are both kind enough to attribute to naivete what I’m increasingly sure is a malignant combination of anti-American feeling and antisemitism.
In the same vein, Paul, at PowerLine, a blogger who has tried to be level-headed about Obama, professes himself horrified by Obama’s “Sophomorically Utopian Oration,” and gives details and argument to prove his point that Obama has all the intellectual and political sophistication of a starry-eyed, ill-informed, Left leaning college student.
That’s the theme that seems to be emerging about Obama’s UN debut: he’s Utopian, sophomoric, naive. Obama wasn’t shocked by the UN’s corruption and power seeking behavior. Instead, he was scolding the world body for not getting its act together and creating a Garden of Eden, with the Palestinian lion lying peacefully beside the slaughtered Israeli lamb. In other words, rather than recognizing that this international body should exist as a forum to ensure some level of functionality between national entities that have different values and goals, he thinks it ought to be some giant mommy that gently smacks the nation-kids around until harmony is ensured. (As a slight aside, if you can ever see the Episode of the New Twilight Zone, from the 1980s, called “A Small Talent for War,” you must. The link I provided has a spoiler, but it’s still worth checking out given Obama’s speech.)
Maybe Obama wasn’t even naive. Maybe, as my friend Don Quixote suggested, Obama appropriately wants nations to stand on their own two feet, without America as a prop, and truly believes that, allowing “good nations” more independence will achieve peace on earth and good will among men. If that’s the case, Obama must be credited with a genuinely good faith belief that the world’s “good nations,” given sufficient moral support (but nothing more) will do the right thing. My reply to DQ was that this view assumes that Obama shares with ordinary Americans a sense of what constitutes a “good nation.”
In my book and, I know, in yours, a good nation is one that provides maximum liberty to its citizens without veering into destructive anarchy. Obama, however, seems to have a different definition.
In Iran, although both Ahmadinejad and Mousavi are equally repugnant, the uprisings weren’t about a specific leader, but were about the corruption of democracy. Obama sided with the totalitarian dictators, against the people.
In Honduras, the Obama administration has aggressively sided with a would-be dictator against the constitutional will of the people. The only one who’s happy right now is Chavez, the buddy with whom Obama once shared a big grin and a political man hug.
Aside from liking the bad guys, Obama also seems to be unduly deferential to their desires. As between North and South Korea, Obama promptly yielded to the Norks’ demands for single party talks, without getting anything in return. And we all know about his recent abandonment of the Czech Republic, Poland and neighboring states, which basically saw him doing obeisance to the totalitarian KGB operative, Vladimir Putin.
Zip over to the Middle East, and Obama bows to totalitarian kings, and makes unreasonable (by any standards) demands on the only functional, free Democracy in the region — after repeatedly denigrating its right to exist by implying that Israel’s only justification for existence is the same Holocaust that the surrounding Muslim nations deny ever occurred. And so it goes, with the added spice of insults to old friends such as the Brits, the French, and those “Austrian” speaking Austrians, all the while making kissy faces at some of the world’s most horrible, aggressive dictators.
So here’s the question: If one assumes that Obama really is as naive as others assume about what the UN can and should do, should Obama be forgiven for this naivete because he is seeking a world of equal players, all working harmoniously under one UN roof? Or alternatively, is there no forgiveness, naivete or not, because Obama is manifestly working to subordinate the United State, one of the last bastions (if not the last bastion) of true liberty in the world, in order that those he seems to characterize as “good nations” — nations with the least freedom and the most territorial aggression — can have a more level playing field and a greater opportunity to achieve their goals?
With regard to that last statement, Obama’s speech, aside from its reference for some halcyon UN future, made quite clear Obama’s desire to take America from being a world leader to a mere player. Indeed, Peter Wehner sees the UN speech as a perfect example of Obama’s policies and personality insofar as his relationship to America is concerned:
There is more to be said about the Obama speech—including the president’s tiresome pretense that he and he alone will lead the world out of its cul-de-sac, where “we bicker about outdated grievances.” But I cannot escape a depressing thought, one I hope is proved to be wrong over time: that Barack Obama, even though he is the leader of America, is constantly placing himself above it. His criticisms of our country are now part of a troubling routine, so much so that Obama is now winning the applause of people who genuinely hate America (like Fidel Castro, who complimented Obama for his “brave gesture” and “courage” in criticizing the United States at the UN).
Obama not only fails to strongly defend the United States; he is actually adding brush strokes to a portrait of our country that diminishes its achievements and standing. He seems unable or unwilling to speak out—in a heartfelt and passionate way—on its behalf. He is, of course, clever never to say a word of praise for America; no, this sophisticated wordsmith and smooth politician, this cool customer ever in search of The Golden Mean, can speak in both text and subtext. He says just enough to deny the charge that he is not a strong defender of the country he leads. But by now we’re on to the game.
No one believes America’s history is pristine; we are all familiar with the catalogue of our own sins, beginning with slavery. Other presidents have recognized them, and a few have given voice to them. But it was done in the context of a reverence for America—for what it has been and stands for, for what it is and can be. Think of the words of George Washington, who said of America, “I was summoned by my Country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love.” That is a noble sentiment from a man whose love of country knew no bounds. They are also words that I cannot imagine President Obama saying, at least with conviction. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t like his country or admire things about it; it means that he has yet to really speak out for it. And it means that he has shown, so far at least, that he is more interested in advancing his interests than in speaking on behalf of the nation that elected him. There are enough critics of America in the world; we don’t need to add America’s president to that list.
John Bolton picks up on precisely the same thread, which is that Obama, the President of the US, is publicly throwing American into the dustbin — not to mention his by now routine willingness to sacrifice Israel whenever the opportunity comes along.
All told, I do not give Obama a pass for a charming 1960s style naivete about the UN’s role as a world peacemaker. I think that his speech was a calculated effort to pave the way for his favored totalitarian nations to have a free hand (along with America’s help) when it comes to despoiling the democratic nations around the world.