Earlier today, I was mildly critical of the suggestion that President Obama is our worst president ever when it comes to foreign policy. I noted, however, that Obama certainly has the potential to earn that distinction.
Today, that potential was fully on display before the assembled thugs and hypocrites that make up the U.N. General Assembly. At the risk of offending my own prejudice against categorical assertions of “worst president” status, I will venture that no American president, and probably no world leader, has ever poured more nonsense into one speech.
The worst of it, in my view. is contained in this passage:
In an era when our destiny is shared, power is no longer a zero-sum game. No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation. No world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will succeed. No balance of power among nations will hold. The traditional division between nations of the south and north makes no sense in an interconnected world. Nor do alignments of nations rooted in the cleavages of a long gone Cold War.
“In an era when our destiny is shared. . .” In what sense do nations share each other’s destiny? If Iraq descends into chaos, will Iran follow as a result? Of course not, which is why Iran has endeavored to destabilize Iraq. Will the U.S. suffer materially if Iraq descends into chaos? If so, then maybe we should rethink Obama’s troop withdrawal decision. If Israel is attacked by nuclear weapons, will Europe be? Of course not, which is why Europe doesn’t care very much whether Iran develops nuclear weapons.
“[P]ower is no longer a zero-sum game.” What does this mean? Has every situation in the world magically become win-win? Or was this always the case and it simply took Obama to understand it?
What does Obama mean by “power,” anyway. Traditionally, power means the ability to cause other actors to conform to one’s wishes. Does every nation have wishes so benign that its neighbors will benefit (or at least not suffer) when they are caused to conform?
“No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation.” The “should” part goes without saying and Obama looks embarrassingly naive saying it. The “can” part is demonstrably false, and Obama looks embarrassingly stupid saying it. A nation can dominate another nation by conquering it or, in some cases, by credibly threatening to conquer it.
If the U.S. could be counted on to take on nations that conquer their neighbors, as we did in the first Gulf war, it might then be true that no nation can dominate another nation. But hardly anyone, and least of all Obama, believes that the U.S. should assume that role across-the-board.
“No world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will succeed.” So only a world order in which all nations and groups of people have equal status can succeed? There has never been such a world order, so it must follow that no world order has ever succeeded. Does Obama define “succeed” as “last forever.” If so, his statement is true, but so is the statement that “no world order that doesn’t elevate one nation or group of people over another will succeed.” If not, what does he mean by “succeed.”
The current world order elevates certain nations and groups of people over other nations and groups. Does this mean that Obama will attempt to dismantle the current world order? Will he begin by trying to abolish the U.N. Security Council or to eliminate the concept of permanent membership? Or is Obama just, you know, turning a phrase?
“No balance of power among nations will hold.” More gibberish, that. A balance of power, more or less by definition, holds for a while and then is replaced, after a period of relative chaos, by another. Otherwise, the world would be in a permanent state of chaos. The U.S. and large chunks of the world have avoided that fate. One of Obama’s goals should be to keep it that way. That goal did not make into his “four pillars” of American foreign policy.
“The traditional division between nations of the south and north makes no sense in an interconnected world. Nor do alignments of nations rooted in the cleavages of a long gone Cold War.” By the “north-south” division, I assume Obama means “rich-poor.” But why does Obama believe that “interconnectedness” has abolished that divide? Is the internet really that powerful? The American population is truly (not just rhetorically) interconnected, yet divisions remain between rich Americans and poor Americans, a fact Obama knows well, having worked so hard to exploit them.
As to “alignments” rooted in the Cold War, why does Obama believe that the end of the Cold War less than 20 years ago entirely negates (or even should entirely negate) the alignments that existed during that era. History shows that national affinities and animosities persist over many decades and even through the centuries. Indeed, our alignment with Great Britain during the Cold War was not “rooted” in the Cold War at all; it had deeper roots.
This may make “no sense” to Obama, who sees himself as unbound by history. For better or for worse (I think, on balance, for better), the rest of the world doesn’t view matters that way. I assume that its assembled representatives had a good inward laugh at our president’s sophomorically utopian oration.