President Barack Obama’s speech is a fascinating document. The theme is this: absolutely nothing can go wrong with political change in the Middle East and that the United States helps moderate forces, defined as anyone who isn't actively trying to kill Americans. The fact that some to many of those revolutionary forces favor killing Americans is outside his purview. And the fact that his policy has supported militantly anti-democratic groups far more than the (far weaker) moderate ones is airbrushed away.Rubin addresses some of the points Obama makes in his speech to the UN. Among the quotes from Obama's speech which Rubin examines and discusses more fully in his article:
That’s not to say there weren’t good-sounding formulations in his speech. Either due to a learning process, the impact of events, or--most likely--the immediacy of an American presidential election to whose voters he is actually addressing himself—you decide—Obama hit some of the right notes also. The problem is the isolation of this soaring rhetoric from his actual policies. That's what's important here, not the discussion about the video and its relationship to the rioting which has drawn literally all of the attention in analyzing the speech.
- The anti-American riots were “an assault on the very ideals upon which the United Nations was founded – the notion that people can resolve their differences peacefully; that diplomacy can take the place of war; and that in an interdependent world, all of us have a stake in working towards greater opportunity and security for our citizens….Today, we must declare that this violence and intolerance has no place among our United Nations.”
Rubin examines the "unintentionally funny" nature of such a comment, considering the history of violence and intolerance at the UN -- which has been supported by the Obama Administration
- “Those in power have to resist the temptation to crack down on dissent. In hard economic times, countries may be tempted to rally the people around perceived enemies, at home and abroad, rather than focusing on the painstaking work of reform.”
Rubin discusses that this is an interesting comment considering Obama's policy of "mobilizing people to hate the rich"
- “It is time to marginalize those who even when not resorting to violence–use hatred of America, or the West, or Israel as a central principle of politics. For that only gives cover, and sometimes makes excuses, for those who resort to violence.”
Odd that Obama should talk about the need to "marginalize" -- considering the fact that it is Obama himself who "has brought them to center stage"
The speech Obama gave at the UN was masterful to be sure.
The problem is that it was divorced from reality -- both from the reality of the Middle East as well as divorced from Obama's foreign policy over the past 3 1/2 years and its failures.
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