Obama’s speech should be read in its entirety. The speech represents a comprehensive map of misreading, to borrow Harold Bloom’s phrase. It takes us on a tour of American interests focused on the Middle East and advertises the cluelessness that emanates from the top of the Obama administration. The speech deserves a knowledgeable line by line annotation exposing its errors and fatuities.
I find this to be incredibly offensive: “The ban against the use of chemical weapons, even in war, has been agreed to by 98 percent of humanity. It is strengthened by the searing memories of soldiers suffocating in the trenches; Jews slaughtered in gas chambers; Iranians poisoned in the many tens of thousands.” If this were a multiple choice test, we would ask: which of these doesn’t belong?
Or take this stray thought regarding Syria, for example: “It’s time for Russia and Iran to realize that insisting on Assad’s rule will lead directly to the outcome they fear: an increasingly violent space for extremists to operate.” Don’t you love it when Obama tells the mullahs what they want? It helps them understand the extent of their good fortune to be dealing with such a man.
Or this stray thought regarding Iraq: “Iraq shows us that democracy cannot be imposed by force.” I thought Iraq’s politics were developing in a positive manner. They certainly represent an improvement over Saddam Hussein. Obama presents the lesson of Iraq as a universal rule. What, I wonder, do Germany and Japan show us?
“Meanwhile,” according to Obama, “the Supreme Leader [sic] has issued a fatwa [sic] against the development of nuclear weapons, and President Rouhani has just recently reiterated that the Islamic Republic [sic] will never develop a nuclear weapon.” So what’s all the shouting about? (More on that supposed “fatwa” here.) Fresh from his diplomatic “triumph” in Syria, Obama is directing John Kerry to serve up one more, this time with respect to Iran nuclear program.
And that’s not all! Obama is also “determined to resolve the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.” There is the testy problem of the permanent Palestinian war on Israel, but it doesn’t exist in the world according to Obama. Obama ascribes the wish for “peace” to the Palestinians: “[T]hey recognize that two states is [sic] the only real path to peace…” Although the evidence to the contrary is abundant, Obama finds it in his meeting with young Palestinians in Ramallah. So no problem.
And then there is this: “Friends of Israel, including the United States, must recognize that Israel’s security as a Jewish and democratic state depends upon the realization of a Palestinian state.” I doubt it, but this is a weird formulation in any event. Obama is speaking for the United States and this assertion is one of many errors that he “recognizes” to be true. Doesn’t the United States recognize it? I guess he is directing that statement to the likes of me.
Despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Obama sees Israel as the key to the conflicts roiling the Middle East: “All of us must recognize that peace will be a powerful tool to defeat extremists, and embolden those who are prepared to build a better future.” What unadulterated claptrap.
If the White House speechwriters had inserted a thematic cue like “Message: I care” into the speech, it would have been “Message: I am a chicken ripe for the plucking.”