12.10.2009

Obama's War Prayer

I hope the world will remember that President Obama just followed this paragraph--
I [am] mindful of what Martin Luther King said in this same ceremony years ago: "Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: It merely creates new and more complicated ones." As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King's lifes work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there is nothing weak, nothing passive, nothing naive in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.
With this word:
But...
Anyway, if American leftists aren't going to play the role of utopian dreamers anymore, I want to know who will? It's not that I disagree with Obama, but the realism here is darker than I'm accustomed to -- it's too practical. Who will have the audacity to finish on the memory of Gandhi and King without hedging their bets?

I know people who will love Obama's Nobel acceptance speech--most of them rhetoricians. But I believe what the quote at the top right of this page says (I stole it from Os Guiness): "Without truth, there is only manipulation." In paraphrasing George Bush, Obama said, "Those regimes that break the rules must be held accountable. Sanctions must exact a real price." My--more peaceful, I think--solution to this apparently intractable reality is to consider writing fewer rules. Want nuclear disarmament? Then get rid of your nukes. Writing international legislation demanding that other countries disarm makes a mockery of justice and "morality." Otherwise our definitions are bankrupt, as when Emily Dickinson defines "Sin - a distinguished Precipice / Others must resist - ."

It's okay if America can no longer afford to be the shining city on a hill -- that responsibility will fall to some other country with a clearer vision of Justice. I just want to be on record, however quietly, noting the transformation.

4 comments:

fenhopper said...

in fact, much of the left is pretty fed up with obama for just this reason. glenn greenwald just wrote elsewhere "Only asking to know: Has any other Nobel Prize winner sung the virtues of war in the acceptance speech?"

but certainly you're not saying that this transformation is at the hands of the left right? nor that it's recent.

i can think of one notable politician who has spoken most clearly and unapologetically about this. kucinich. he's not a moderate centrist like obama. he really is on the left.

Casey said...

Oh, no... no I wasn't meaning to disproportionately blame this administration (only the awarding of the Peace Prize highlights the irony). That's my I titled my post after Twain's "War Prayer." I know this pattern has been around for a long, long time. Reagan's strategy of building up arms in the 1980s was awful by my measure, regardless of what Limbaugh and other interpreters of history say.

Your mentioning Kucinich makes me think of the equally-fringey Libertarians, who always oppose wars... I know it's strange bedfellows, but an End-the-war-Legalize-pot-lower-taxes-end-corporate-welfare party would be interesting to me. Certainly there could be no agreement over the taxes & social-welfare stuff, but the rest seems realistic.

And I will say, I am disproportionately disappointed with this administration... it's embarrassing to admit, but I finally decided to vote for Obama based on little more than "hope" and a hunch. So now I'm not only disappointed, but disappointed that I'm disappointed. Y'know?

littlebirdsings said...

I voted for Obama as well. So, yeah, seriously disappointed. Just shows for certain the hand behind it all. It does not matter who one votes for, the strings are visible.

fenhopper said...

i'm kinda disappointed in obama, but no more disappointed than i thought i would be. that's why i supported him later on, against hillary, but not at the start. because here's some of what i expected from him based on his campaign:
he would be coy on gay rights
he was going to escalate afghanistan
he would push congress for a healthcare compromise
he would reserve the right to issue signing statements

nothing revolutionary there. but i saw those as moves in the right direction. away from how things were. not my first choice. but definitely better than the alternatives. less hawkish than hillary. less racist than mccain.

so his performance on those counts isn't disappointing. and as far as the big gov't and the bailouts and all that -- any president would have bailed out the auto industry. not one would have let them fail. so that's not a voting issue. let's admit that. the bank bailouts: it's a slow ship to turn. i'm not settled on that issue yet, but i'm expecting things will improve. why? because these things typically improve.

my greatest disappointment: state secrets, transparency, gitmo. that's where i thought he would be most different. and those are the areas where he's most like the last administration.