What Obama Should Have Said May 22, 2011
President Obama’s speech on the Middle East last week was nothing really new. He chastised the usual culprits for suppressing human rights in their countries and assured us all that the United States government would remain vigilant in its pursuit of truth, justice, and the American way when it comes to supporting the oppressed in the Middle East. Oh, he did shock Israel and her proponents by mandating that any peace talks between her and the Palestinians must begin with an acceptance by both sides of the borders as they existed in 1967. This proposition of course has Israel losing territory before it has even started to negotiate. One question is will this really result in successful peace talks this time around?
Of course the bigger question for Americans is, where does Obama get the authority to issue any mandates with respect to Middle East peace negotiations? The simple answer is he has no authority in that area. He is the president of our country chosen to protect our rights, defend our Constitution, and enforce our laws. The issue of Middle East peace is between Middle Easterners and that is who should decide the matter if there is to be any long lasting peace in the region.
But I read the president’s speech anyway. In fact, at some point as I was reading the usual implied dribble about how America would solve all of the world’s problems I dosed off into a glorious daydream. Here is the speech Obama gave in that splendid fantasy:
“My fellow Americans, I come to you tonight to mark a new beginning for American foreign policy. Israel, the Palestinians, and the other Middle Eastern nations are going to have to solve their own problems. America is done ruling the world. We have enough problems of our own that need our attention and as a nation we have learned for way too long that when we meddle in the affairs of other nations instead of pursuing a foreign policy of friendship, trade and exchange things normally turn our poorly for us.
Take America’s entry into World War I for instance. It was meant to “Make the world safe for democracy”. Instead our involvement ultimately produced Adolph Hitler in Germany. President Wilson, like all presidents, had good intentions, but America’s unnecessary entry into the war was the deciding factor leading to victory for the Triple Entente. His support for France’s over the top retribution toward Germany manifested in the Treaty of Versailles economically destroyed that country and paved the way for the rise of Hitler and his National Socialist party. The result was another word war where millions more died.
Then there are the smaller conflicts our government has gotten engaged in from time to time. On the Korean peninsula in the 1950s, 40,000 Americans and 2 million civilians lost their lives fighting an enemy that is still a thorn in our side to this day. In Vietnam, 50,000 Americans and 1.5 million civilians perished and many more vets are still experiencing the effects of that war some 35 years later.
Closer to our own time period, let’s not forget that the CIA’s covert overthrow of popularly elected Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeegh in the 1950s ultimately led to the menacing theocracy in present day Iran. Our military support of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan produced the Taliban and Osama bin Laden. Lastly, our decade’s long support for Israel, even when she has been egregiously in the wrong, has produced terrorist networks bent on violently persuading America to change her policy.
There are many more examples of American meddling that have resulted in dire consequences for our country. In the interest of time I will stop there.
My friends, it took us 10 years, 3 wars, 5000 American, and countless Iraqi, Afghani, and Pakistani lives and at least $2 trillion dollars to finally bring Osama bin Laden to justice. And what do we have to show for it? Nothing. Al Qaeda has appointed an interim head to replace bin Laden, the organization has threatened retribution for his death, and our liberties at home are still being violated in the name of national security.
After deep reflection, I have devised a new direction for U.S. foreign policy. A foreign policy which will go much further to ensure our safety than any illegal wiretap or airport groping ever could. Effective immediately, I have ordered the following:
The immediate withdraw of U.S. forces from Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya;
The immediate halt to drone attacks and military incursions into Pakistan;
A cut of hundreds of billions of dollars in military spending;
And the promise to friend and foe alike that the United States seeks peaceful relations with you based on integrity, mutual respect, and trade.
By ending our quest for worldwide hegemony, we will be able to focus all of our attention and resources on the dire state of our economy. We have a lot of work to do, but by bringing the troops home and cutting our monstrously large military budget we can make great strides to balance the federal budget and get our economy moving again. Good night. God bless you and God bless the United States of America.”
Wouldn’t that have been a better speech?
Kenn Jacobine teaches internationally and maintains a summer residence in North Carolina