President Obama spoke before the United Nations General Assembly today (video below, transcript here). The video runs about 43 minutes. Listening to it, I would have estimated a Castroite 4 hours and 43 minutes. It is excruciating. The tone is professorial, patronizing, obnoxious, and unmanly. Obama challenged, and was followed by, Vladimir Putin. Putting the merits of their presentations to one side, the contrast was not to Obama’s advantage.
At the United Nations Obama hectors his adversaries and carries a microscopic stick. He is the un-Teddy Roosevelt. His adversaries have him sized up correctly for a patsy. Obama’s take on the international order, such as it is, is a left-wing fantasy. On the world stage he is a loser.
He deepens the vacuity of empty words: “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. We cannot look backwards.” Heavy, man. Pass the bong!
The heaviness continues with Obama’s pitiful deflection of blame for the course of events in Iraq followed by this preface to bragging about his cave-in to Iran:
No matter how powerful our military, how strong our economy, we understand the United States cannot solve the world’s problems alone. In Iraq, the United States learned the hard lesson that even hundreds of thousands of brave, effective troops, trillions of dollars from our Treasury, cannot by itself impose stability on a foreign land. Unless we work with other nations under the mantle of international norms and principles and law that offer legitimacy to our efforts, we will not succeed. And unless we work together to defeat the ideas that drive different communities in a country like Iraq into conflict, any order that our militaries can impose will be temporary.
Just as force alone cannot impose order internationally, I believe in my core that repression cannot forge the social cohesion for nations to succeed. The history of the last two decades proves that in today’s world, dictatorships are unstable. The strongmen of today become the spark of revolution tomorrow. You can jail your opponents, but you can’t imprison ideas. You can try to control access to information, but you cannot turn a lie into truth. It is not a conspiracy of U.S.-backed NGOs that expose corruption and raise the expectations of people around the globe; it’s technology, social media, and the irreducible desire of people everywhere to make their own choices about how they are governed.
Indeed, I believe that in today’s world, the measure of strength is no longer defined by the control of territory. Lasting prosperity does not come solely from the ability to access and extract raw materials. The strength of nations depends on the success of their people — their knowledge, their innovation, their imagination, their creativity, their drive, their opportunity — and that, in turn, depends upon individual rights and good governance and personal security. Internal repression and foreign aggression are both symptoms of the failure to provide this foundation.
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. And history tells us that the dark forces unleashed by this type of politics surely makes all of us less secure. Our world has been there before. We gain nothing from going back.
Instead, I believe that we must go forward in pursuit of our ideals, not abandon them at this critical time. We must give expression to our best hopes, not our deepest fears.
We must cut the crap and we must dig ourselves out of the deep, deep hole in which this sorry man and sorrier president is leaving us.