There is much that is objectionable, offensive and off-base in President Obama’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly yesterday. The United States was a pretty sorry place before he became president eight months ago, but he is delivering a remarkable messianic redemption. He is redeeming the United States and he has come to redeem the world. Like Jesus, he is conscious of his divinity and aware of his mission.
All he is saying, with his peculiar animus and ignorance, is give peace a chance. That much I understand. What I don’t understand is this:
Democracy cannot be imposed on any nation from the outside. Each society must search for its own path, and no path is perfect. Each country will pursue a path rooted in the culture of its people, and – in the past – America has too often been selective in its promotion of democracy. But that does not weaken our commitment, it only reinforces it. There are basic principles that are universal; there are certain truths which are self evident – and the United States of America will never waver in our efforts to stand up for the right of people everywhere to determine their own destiny.
While these statements can be explained away in some sense, like other axioms of Obama’s foreign policy, they are demonstrably untrue. In the past century the United States imposed democracy “from the outside,” at great expense of American life and treasure, on countries including the Federal Republic of Germany and Japan. Why does Obama deny the role of American arms in imposing democracy on America’s former enemies?
Even in this otherwise mysterious paragraph, Obama is clear on one point. He doesn’t think very highly of the United States Before Obama: “America has too often been selective in its promotion of democracy.” Here President Obama reveals the time warp (identified here by Michael Barone) in which he is caught. He is a victim of the reigning leftist academic cliches reigning on campus in the years he spent at college and in law school.
To the extent the United States tolerated and supported dictatorships during the Cold War — the let-wing critique of American foreign policy to which Obama seems to be alluding — it did so to advance the interests of the United States in opposing the Soviet Union. Obama’s betrayal of democratic forces in Honduras, Iran and elsewhere is ongoing, and taken with a free hand, or a hand far freer than that wielded by America’s Cold War presidents.
We know that American history was a paltry thing in the era Before Obama, but President Obama also appears not to be very familiar with it, or to feel free blatantly to misrepresent it.