The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


President Obama’s legion of supporters becomes excited when he makes a speech. His eloquence convinces them that words alone can solve our problems. They believe that sheer force of personality can move others—even those who are our adversaries—to see the light and blithely change their malevolent actions.

Yesterday’s speech at the United Nations was an example. Obama told the arrayed audience that:
We've re-engaged the United Nations. We have paid our bills. We have joined the Human Rights Council. We have signed the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We have fully embraced the Millennium Development Goals."

That’s all very nice, but I suspect that thugs like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Muammar Gaddafi will be less than impressed.

Rich Lowery comments further:
Obama's mistake is in believing "the interests of nations and peoples are shared." They aren't. Georgia has an interest in becoming a strong nation capable of defending itself; Russia has an interest in quashing it. China has an interest in dominating all of East Asia; Japan and other neighbors have an interest in containing it.

Iran has an interest in gaining a nuclear weapon; Israel -- and the United States -- has an interest in stopping it.

On the latter, Obama was shockingly weak, if his weakness still retained the capacity to shock. He outlined with great specificity what the United States will do to reduce its own nuclear arsenal. We'll pursue a nuclear agreement with the Russians, move on ratifying the Test Ban Treaty, complete a Nuclear Posture Review, etc.

As for Iran, if it moves ahead on its nuclear program, it "must be held accountable."

How? Obama can't say, because Moscow and even Paris apparently haven't gotten word about the "new era of engagement based on mutual interests and mutual respect." Both are making discouraging noises about any serious sanctions against Iran.

But Obama’s supporters are unswayed. They believe that words matter (a lot) and that actions must be carefully tuned to ensure that “they” won’t hate us. If that risks appeasement, no matter, because if “they” hate us, then we are lost.

Richard Fernandez summarizes nicely as he discusses present day world conflict:
But can it [world conflict] be changed by words alone? Who knows. What is safe to say is that history hasn’t stopped; conflicts continue. The idea that they can be resolved through institutions which ultimately lack the power of enforcement — having given them up — is a dubious one. Once upon a time it was thought that a Security Council could oversee the world; it didn’t. And maybe it is already an anachronism. Still, lasting peace is so glittering a prize that it can be held out over and over again to justify the most far-fetched projects; and past failures will be discounted in our desire to grasp it. It’s the lottery ticket of international relations. Unlikely to pay off, but always in demand. Maybe history is a race between two adages: the idea that hope springs eternal and the sad knowledge that there’s a sucker born every minute.

In May of 2008, in the run-up to the Presidential campaign, I wrote:
I have this awful feeling that Barack Obama is Jimmy Carter redux. Slicker and a better communicator, no doubt. Updated for the 21st century, unquestionably. But Carter, all the same … If Barack morphs into Jimmy, we’re in for a very rocky ride.

As I watch this President navigate his first year in office, it’s hard to deny that the ‘morphing’ has already begun.