Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Obama Wimp Factor at the UN

The President spoke to a contentious body of politicians today, asking them to stop bickering and start working together, and was greeted with applause. No one yelled "You lie!"

The United Nations, as critics will be quick to point out, is not the US Congress, and this attitude was summed up in a UK Telegraph headline even before the speech: "The UN loves Barack Obama because he is weak."

The postmortems will follow that line. "Obama," Fox News reports, "just put Israel 'on the chopping block,' said former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton."

Never mind what the President actually said: "To break the old patterns, to break the cycle of insecurity and despair, all of us must say publicly what we would acknowledge in private. The United States does Israel no favors when we fail to couple an unwavering commitment to its security with an insistence that Israel respect the legitimate claims and rights of the Palestinians. And nations within this body do the Palestinians no favors when they choose vitriolic attacks against Israel over constructive willingness to recognize Israel's legitimacy and its right to exist in peace and security."

Overall, the President proposed "four pillars" as "fundamental to the future that we want for our children"-- nuclear disarmament, Middle East peace, environmental renewal and economic growth, while warning North Korea and Iran "must be held accountable" if they continue to pursue nuclear weapons.

"The world," he said, "must stand together to demonstrate that international law is not an empty promise, and that treaties will be enforced. We must insist that the future does not belong to fear."

In distancing himself from the Bush era of going it alone in global affairs, President Obama opened himself once again to partisan attacks under the time-honored Wimp Factor, that Democrats are not macho enough to protect America from foreign threats.

Tellingly, as the President spoke in Manhattan, debate was going on in Washington over Afghanistan policy, with reports of a proposal by Vice-President Biden to reduce American forces and concentrate on rooting out Al Qaeda there and in Pakistan with targeted actions.

In the coming days, Congressional Republicans will be attacking the White House for not doing enough in Kabul while they try to block progress on health care for Americans in Washington.

4 comments:

Fuzzy Slippers said...

This isn't the Reagan era, and nuclear disarmament is no longer viable because the nations who are now nuclear are not rational and frankly, are not interested in world peace. They've made it clear that they are interested in wiping Israel and the west off the face of the map and out of the pages of history.

How on earth do you justify leaving us essentially defenseless in the pursuit of an idealistic pipe-dream. Do you honestly imagine that either Kim Jong Il or that nutjob Ahmadinejad are going to voluntarily disarm? Their goals are not the same as ours and BO cannot simply simper about hopeandchange to a people who are interested in global domination. Diplomacy has its limits with some of the world's leaders, surely you can see that?

Stimpson said...

With an attitude that respecting international law and respecting other countries' rights just isn't macho enough for the United States, is it any surprise that so many people hated the U.S. in the Dubya Republiscum era? The attitude displayed by people like Bolton burned away the good will and sympathy the world felt toward the U.S. immediately after the 9-11 attacks. I hope Obama doesn't make that mistake, and U.S. citizens should hope so too.

Holte Ender said...

I find it hard to believe that anyone thinks that North Korea or Iran have plans for global domination? They are just rogue states that have little, if any support, outside of their own borders, and Iran has lots of dissent within its borders and the people of North Korea are half starved. How are we essentially defenseless? Taking up arms against Iran would unify a people that are definitely not unified right now. Unilateralism is a political/military philosophy that plays into the hands of our enemy's. It's time we thought about other things, rather than war which is usually supported by people who won't be doing the dying.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

Holte, you're really off base here, I'm watching what's going on with Iran right now and am literally gob-smacked that you dismiss the nuclear threat that Iran (and N. Korea) pose because they are "little rogue states."

This is highly irresponsible and exactly the problem with liberal foreign policy. Liberals are so assured of the very power and wealth that they claim to despise, that they stand there, cock of the walk, thinking themselves (and all of us) immune to global dangers from "little rogue states" and terrorist organizations. This is not only an elitist and Anglo-centric view but also an extremely naive one.