It’s certainly easier on the spirits these days to ignore Obama than to pay attention to his activities and pronouncements.
But it’s worth making sorrowful note of the fateful words he spoke in his speech to the UN General Assembly on Monday. We cannot doubt that they are likely to become as famous a misreading of reality and the current moment as Neville Chamberlain’s “peace for our time” proclamation – curiously enough, uttered almost exactly 77 year ago, on 30 September 1938.
Here is what Obama said at the UN (emphasis added):
Even as our economy is growing and our troops have largely returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, we see in our debates about America’s role in the world a notion of strength that is defined by opposition to old enemies, perceived adversaries, a rising China, or a resurgent Russia; a revolutionary Iran, or an Islam that is incompatible with peace. We see an argument made that the only strength that matters for the United States is bellicose words and shows of military force; that cooperation and diplomacy will not work.
As President of the United States, I am mindful of the dangers that we face; they cross my desk every morning. I lead the strongest military that the world has ever known, and I will never hesitate to protect my country or our allies, unilaterally and by force where necessary.
But I stand before you today believing in my core that we, the nations of the world, cannot return to the old ways of conflict and coercion.
A few sentences later, Obama said this:
A politics and solidarity that depend on demonizing others, that draws on religious sectarianism or narrow tribalism or jingoism may at times look like strength in the moment, but over time its weakness will be exposed.
(H/t: The Washington Times)
I suspect he thinks he is immunized against the hubris of his appeal to the “strongest military in the world” by the rhetorical rejection of “jingoism” – although he has just engaged in it himself.