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What Obama Should Have Said

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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 dozed 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 world war where millions more died.

Then there are the smaller conflicts in which our government has gotten engaged from time to time. In the 1950s, on the Korean peninsula,  40,000 Americans and 2 million civilians lost their lives fighting an enemy that to this day is still a thorn in our side. In Vietnam, 50,000 Americans and 1.5 million civilians perished, while many more vets are still experiencing the effects of that war some 35 years later.

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, but in the interest of time I will stop there.

About Kenn Jacobine

  • Arch Conservative

    “it would irk the leaders of european countries”

    Obama is president of the United States, not Europe, or the world…THE UNITED STATES. Therefore an ongoing natural disaster in the United States should take precedent over sipping Guiness in Ireland. Obama’s presence may in fact be symbolic but it is part of the job. A part which he obviously doesn’t get.

    I think you have it backwards zing. It’s you that will defend Obama no matter what he does or does not.

    I’m sure the European dignitaries with whom Obama was scheduled to meet would understand. It’s not as if those nations would cease to be our allies if Obama cancelled his meetings to come home so stop being so god damned melodramatic Glenn.

    It’s not just that what happened in Joplin has already happened but also the fact that we knew there would be more deadly tornadoes to follow, which there have been.

    The bottom line is that people like Glenn and zing have no intention of ever putting down the Kool Aid.

    I wish Ron Paul would get rid of you Glenn.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    I guess what Arch doesn’t get is that diplomacy isn’t just for the benefit of European nations – it’s for the benefit of AMERICA.

    But I get it, Arch – if Obama personally invented a cure for cancer tomorrow, you’d be out there crying that it’s part of a conspiracy to institute socialized health care….

  • zingzing

    “I think you have it backwards zing. It’s you that will defend Obama no matter what he does or does not.”

    only in your mind, archie. i have criticized obama when he has disappointed me. many times. it’s not surprising, given your abilities with comprehension, that you might have missed that.

    answer this question, if you would: how often do presidents fly to a disaster zone on the day of the disaster? that’s when you demanded it. it seems both strange and totally expected for you to do so.

    “Obama’s presence may in fact be symbolic but it is part of the job. A part which he obviously doesn’t get.”

    so you’d rather he go on symbolic mission rather than take care of business. it’s not all meet and greets over in europe. and on sunday, you’ll have your symbolic gesture needs appeased, archie. it’ll be alright.

    right now i’m am closing my fist, but not all the way, and i place the pad of my thumb on the nails of my index and middle fingers, creating a tubular hole through which something might pass. with my fingers positioned thus, i begin to use my shoulder muscles to move my arm, bent at the elbow, down, then back up, then back down in a continuous motion. my eyes roll back in my head and i think of you. there’s a symbolic gesture for you. hope in means the world to you and cures all woes.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena/ Irene Athena

    Arch, ZingZing and Glenn both called yesterday to express their unhappiness with the fact the Patriot Act was being rammed through.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena/ Irene Athena

    And Ron Paul is against capital punishment, so why would he want to “get rid of Glenn?”

    Debate him, maybe, say “no” there’s a different way to a lot of what Glenn is advocating, but never “get rid of him.”

    I agree that a lot of the international visiting used to be done by diplomats instead of presidents, and they seemed to be better at it, too. Kind of like we don’t have medics in the army shooting people up. Commander in Chief cum Diplomat is a weird combo.

  • Costello

    Lawrence O’Donnell just had a very interesting piece that revealed those who claim Obama threw Israel under the bus don’t know what they are talking about. Though he used different words, 67 borders with land swaps was said by Netanyahu in front of Congress. Not sure who said they know negotiating, but if that was the case, you would posturing is also an aspect of it.

    Arch, what do you expect Obama to do in the Midwest? He’s not the black person in the XMen that controls the weather. And since the country needs investments, it needs to to be more taxes or outside sources like European dignitaries. Your name makes me think you are against the former so what do you suggest?

  • Kenn Jacobine

    If I can weigh in. Americans need to grow up. The president should’t be expected at the scene of a natural disaster ever unless he/ she is going to help clean up or search for the dead. All it is is a photo op when they go anyway-to show they are presidential. It’s an insult to the suffering, but we have this crazy idea in America that our leaders have to suffer with us. That’s such B.S.

  • zingzing

    wow. kenn and i agree. either the world is ending or archie’s wrong. OH GOOD GOD IS THE WORLD ENDING?! …no, it’s not. next, the sun will go down and rise again.

    archie needs an orgasm detector on a cliff of painfully awesome shit which feeds him with junk.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Irene –

    I agree that a lot of the international visiting used to be done by diplomats instead of presidents, and they seemed to be better at it, too.

    The vast majority of the time, diplomacy IS done by diplomats – ambassadors, the Secretary of State, assorted (and often anonymous) go-betweens…

    …but sometimes it needs to be the Prez. Look at the wildly popular reception he’s received – and when foreigners look at him, they perceive America, and that’s how they’ll think of America…and it DOES have a positive effect on our foreign relations.

    Furthermore, sometimes it’s necessary for the leaders of different nations to look each other in the eye. Think of Nixon and China. Think of Carter and Israel and Egypt. Think of Reagan and Brezhnev, and later Reagan and Gorbachev. Were any of these a waste of time and taxpayer money?

    It’s important, Irene. Obama’s doing his job, and doing it well. At least he hasn’t done something like Bush 41 did when he upchucked on the lap of the Japanese prime minister, or like Bush 43 did and start giving an uninvited neck rub to the German prime minister Pat Schroeder (Google the video – it’s funny)…and thank goodness that Obama knows better now than to give a pack of DVD’s as a gift.

  • http://mekancatherine.blogspot.com/ Catherine

    Ken,
    I have to say, that I agree with most of your ideas on a revised foreign policy. I mean, it would be great if other countries stepped up to take care of their own regional affairs instead of the U.S. constantly needing to play the role of World Peacekeeper.

    However, I wonder at what costs? It is obviously completely hypocritical for us to get involved in the campaign against Qaddafi in Libya but barely utter three words about Syria (those three words would be – Bashar…umm…santions…ummm…UN?). But I’m sure that those who were not killed in Libya because Qaddafi was not able to have a killing free for all are happy to be alive.

    I generally would agree that we tend to do more harm than good when we get involved in affairs that have no direct relationship to us. The biggest thing holding me back from saying “Yeah Ken!! I totally agree with your revised foreign policy approach!!” is that having lived in Egypt during the revolution, I’m really glad that the Egyptian military was trained by the U.S. military and therefore was professional enough to not shoot at their fellow citizens. I also believe that if Egypt did not have such close ties to the U.S., the revolution would have been even bloodier and even longer. This is not to take away any credit from the incredibly brave Egytians that stood up to their dreaded state security though.

    Then of course, regardless of whether you agree with spending public money on charity, it’s hard to say – I wish more African children had died instead of us spending money.

    What I think the U.S. should do, is IF they decide to get involved or give aid money, we should call a spade a spade. Like in Syria, we should say – we’re not getting invovled in Syria because we’re scared $hitless of Iran but Libya, meh, they’re not so important to us. Or in the case of aid to Africa – we really want to look awesome for helping a bunch of impoverished sick kids, and hopefully one or two African leaders will give us some [insert pillaged natural resource].

    But yeah, generally I would have loved Obama to have said – we’re not invovled, you guys figure it out, but we’re witholding all aid money until you figure it out. Unfortunately, I think much of the world has gotten far to used to relying on the U.S. to kick-start any dialogue or move for peace.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Catherine –

    It is obviously completely hypocritical for us to get involved in the campaign against Qaddafi in Libya but barely utter three words about Syria (those three words would be – Bashar…umm…santions…ummm…UN?). But I’m sure that those who were not killed in Libya because Qaddafi was not able to have a killing free for all are happy to be alive.

    Yes, it’s hypocritical…but it’s also a political necessity. Why? For one thing, Qaddafi has few friends in the Arab world and doesn’t share any particularly important borders (except for a fairly desolate one with Egypt), whereas Syria is much closer to the rest of the Islamic world and shares borders with much more important countries…like nuclear-armed Israel, for one.

    Someone once called it “the art of the possible” – do what you can, but don’t attempt what you cannot accomplish. Pick your fights wisely – if there’s a tragedy going on and you can fight and end the tragedy with a reasonable chance of success and little damage to your own nation and people, then go for it!

    BUT if there’s a tragedy going on and you don’t see how you can step in without making things much worse and getting us a national bloody nose for our efforts, you use all means OTHER than military intervention.

    THIS is why Bush 41 wisely decided not to proceed to Baghdad in the first Gulf War despite what he probably knew would happen to the Kurds…because there was no exit strategy. His son wasn’t so wise.

    Change the things you can, don’t change the things you can’t change, and have the wisdom to know the difference.

  • Clavos

    and when foreigners look at him, they perceive America, and that’s how they’ll think of America…

    That’s the scariest thing I’ve ever read on these threads.

  • zingzing

    “That’s the scariest thing I’ve ever read on these threads.”

    would you rather they still think of bush?

  • Clavos

    You’re right, zing. Six of one; half a dozen of the other.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    Catherine,

    I appreciate your comments. You make a good point about the Egyptian military and their restraint when it came to shooting civilians, but let’s remember that Mubarek used billions in U.S. aid to imprison and torture his opponents. Perhaps if we didn’t give aid to Mubarek to buy peace for Israel and instead had trade, cultural exchange, etc… Egypt would have developed more than it has. I was in Egypt last year and after billions of dollars in U.S. aid for the last 30 it is still a very undeveloped country.

    As far as Libya is concerned, the president had no right to act unilaterally. He is not an emperor and it is dangerous to our system of government for Congress to do nothing while he perpetuates one war after another. This includes his undeclared war in Pakistan. In Libya, he has even ignored the 60 day mandate under the War Powers Act. He is totally acting outside the law. This makes him an outlaw.

    I agree regretably about it being better for children to die in Africa than to temporarily save them today. As someone who lived on the continent for six years I can tell you that in many cases the more humane thing to do is let them escape their misery. That is hard for many Americans to understand. But I beleive that many times drought, famines, natural disasters are nature’s way of putting balance back into the environment.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    are you sure they’re the same? One started the Iraq War on false pretenses – the other refuses to commit ground troops to Libya because he doesn’t want us to get stuck there. Are they really one and the same?

  • Clavos

    But I beleive that many times drought, famines, natural disasters are nature’s way of putting balance back into the environment.

    Of course they are; for animals, plants and humans in situations where there are no other kinds of control.

    Here in Florida, we used to try to put out fires in the Everglades trying to save not only the plants, but animals as well.

    This went on for years, until we finally figured out those fires served a very important purpose — a purpose that required the plants be burned.

    The Everglades is not a swamp; it is actually a very broad, very shallow, very slow moving river. If the aquatic plants which grow in it (and which shelter many of the animals that live in the ‘Glades) are not burned off periodically, they begin to choke and impede the flow of the river, which creates a domino effect of detrimental effects on the ‘Glades, which in turn, if unchecked would inevitably destroy them. Now, the fires are allowed to burn in a controlled way, and not only the Everglades, but the plants and animals have all prospered as a result.

  • Clavos

    No, you’re right, Glenn. Obama is too far off the left edge to be accurately compared to GWB, although he was no great bargain either.

    Ain’t neither one of ‘em no ‘count.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    The president has been met with excitement and respect on his Ireland/England trip [probably in France too]. Brings to mind how much more popular Tony Blair and Mikhail Gorbachev were in other countries than they were at home. But Bush was viscerally disliked in Europe, because of Iraq, and because Rumsfeld and others deliberately insulted France and Germany. [Obama's favorability rating at home is about 52-53%.]

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Obama is too far off the left edge

    Only when viewed from somewhere off the right edge. Nearly all his policies are considered centrist compromises by actual leftists.

  • zingzing

    obama, off the left edge? oh, clavos… he’s nowhere near the edge. right wing rhetoric is not reality. could you imagine if it was? we’d look like nazi germany, and obama would be a totalitarian dictator for life. of course, the right wing response to that would be “but we DO look like nazi germany, and obama wants to be a totalitarian dictator for life!” but of course, none of that would be true, but they think they can actually convince us they actually believe something that moronic… they lie to themselves. and that’s the worst kind of lie. it’s heartbreakingly pitiful. like a dog that swears that’s not its dogshit on the couch.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    Obama’s “too far off the left edge”? You’ve GOT to be kidding! He’s the best Republican president we’ve had since Clinton!

    And I’m not really kidding on that particular point….

  • Glenn Contrarian

    But Clinton was the first black president….

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And Clavos –

    In case you’re wondering where the “Clinton/Obama was a Republican president” line came from, that’s a fairly common complaint by those of us who are on the left. I figured I’d better explain it to you first.

  • Clavos

    Well, you’re right, handy, from where I sit, Obama’s way off in left field.

    But then, from where I sit, so was GWB.

  • zingzing

    watch out you don’t fall over.

  • http://mekancatherine.blogspot.com/ Catherine

    Ken,
    Would you look someone who lost a family member in one of the recent tornados in the US or lost a family member to Katrina or any other hurricane and tell them it was a good thing that person is dead? Would you tell a family whose child is dying of cancer that they should stop doing cancer research because that is the way for the world to right itself?

    Also, if your rationale is that people who are destined to poverty and pain might as well die young, are you suggesting that a majority of the world’s population be shot tomorrow because their future’s are so desolate?

    I don’t think any human life, no matter how bleak their future, is so worthless to be tossed away. And don’t call me naive because I’ve been living in a developing country for awhile too, it has nothing to do with me denying their suffering, only that countries like America have the technologies and know-how to overcome some of the basic illnesses that many people living on the African continent suffer from. Not to mention that we, and to a greater extent colonial European powers, have everything to do with why many African countries are so under-developed to begin with.

    Why should American parents have to worry less about their children getting something preventable like small pox while African mothers have to be scared to death that a small infection can kill their child?

  • Kenn Jacobine

    I didn’t say we should do nothing. I said that nature has a way to replenish itself. When there are too many living creatures in one area and disease strikes that could be nature’s way of providing balance in itself.

    As human beings we have obligations to each other to help. When government gets involved it becomes political. Meaning we exchange one form of colonialism for another. Now they are dependent on us for aid or worse yet we steal from our poor to give to rich dictators in the developing world.

  • zingzing

    next time nature replenishes a house, get back to me kenn.

    “As human beings we have obligations to each other to help. When government gets involved it becomes political.”

    has it ever struck you that HUMANS created government to provide such services? why do you think we have a gov’t at all?

  • Clavos

    why do you think we have a gov’t at all?

    Why indeed?

  • zingzing

    to provide such services.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    Sure, so government can spend itself into oblivion providing the services zing wants. I don’t want to be a customer of government – IRS FEMA CIA FDIC FEderal Reserve. So i live overseas, in a safe place, with a currency in the bank that is not collapsing. I am doing a lot better without all the “services” government porvides.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    Catherine,

    The colonial argument is tired and old. Most African countries are poor because of their governments. There is too much corruption and not enough capitalism. To continue to blame colonialsm is simple. What about Liberia and Ethiopia? Very little or no colonialism and they are still very poor. Your analysis is based on pure emotuon and that is what we need to get away from if we are to solve especially our financial problems in the world.

  • zingzing

    I am doing a lot better without all the “services” government porvides.”

    if your house were to be wiped away, would you say the same?

    or would you rebuild it by hand from the woods around you? your bluster only has so much wind.

  • Jordan Richardson

    I am doing a lot better without all the “services” government porvides.

    Yeah, I’ve heard about you. You’re the Kenn Jacobine who could fly above roads on wings of pure liberty rather than drive on ‘em like us suckers. Well done.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    In the first place, I bought a house in an area not prone to natural disasters. If one did strike there is a little thing called insurance that i have taken out. By the way, the Amish get along just fine without government – they have barn raisings. Look it up, it is a fascinating concept.

    As to the roads, I would argue they should be privatised like many were in the 18th century and like turnpikes are today.

  • Jordan Richardson

    I would argue they should be privatised like many were in the 18th century and like turnpikes are today.

    Please do argue that. I’d love to read it.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    I am writing down that that willbe a future article.

  • http://mekancatherine.blogspot.com/ Catherine

    Hi Kenn,
    Actually, I wasn’t talking about colonialism at all because you’re right it would be much too easy to blame problems on that. I’m not saying that many African governments don’t have any responsibility for the position they are in, but the blame on America and other European powers have that I was referring to was actually companies from said countries coming into Africa, taking natural resources, selling them outside the countries and giving the money to said corrupt regimes/militant groups. Just like colonialism would be too simple an explanation, expecting capitalism to fix all the problems in Africa would be to simple a fix – in fact, I would argue that the way many companies abuse natural resource rich countries in the developing world in general is capitalism at its worst.

    I see that you’re a libertarian so I know you will never agree with me on this, but there are limits to how much capitalism can help if there are not certain checks in place. I think that it is very easy in many developing countries (not just in Africa) for outside foreign investment to very easily finance vast amounts of corruption. In Egypt, those at the top who talked the talk about bringing in foreign investment and opening up the financial sector were the ones who benefited from the money flowing into the country.

    As far as the comment about using emotion in this situation, I wouldn’t say it’s emotion as much as ethics. Maybe you think it’s emotional to say “we should help poor and starving African children” because you can imagine me tearing up at a picture of said child. But it’s not only for this reason that I think we should be using aid money to fix these kinds of diseases and problems. Each of those sick children could be potential contributors to an economy. Each of those children who are helped by a vaccine or are prevented from getting AIDS represent less money that in the future will need to be spent curing disease. If these countries have to continue to worry about problems that have mostly been eradicated in many more developed countries, this will only further burden their economies.

    Don’t you think it only proves the point when you say that you simply bought a house in a non-flood prone area and were able to afford insurance for this house? I’m pretty sure many people living on the brink of poverty cannot afford such a luxury.

  • zingzing

    “By the way, the Amish get along just fine without government – they have barn raisings.”

    ah, the amish. unfortunately, much of the rest of their lifestyle holds little appeal.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    Catherine,

    Companies that have gone into developing countries and raped them of their resources is merchantilism and our founding fathers fought a war over that when it was done here. Capitalism more than anything respects and protects private property rights and in the developing world the biggest problem is the lack of protection for private porperty. With everything being so arbitrary economic growth is hindered. You must remember that the developing world has tried socialism over and over again with no success.

    As to helping others – that is best left to individuals. We would agree that slavery is morally wrong. It is wrong because it forces people to work for no income. Why is it that when government takes a portion of our income away and gives it to another, person or corporation, we don’t see that as a form of slavery – that is the transfer payment makes us work at least a part of the time for no income?

  • Jordan Richardson

    We would agree that slavery is morally wrong. It is wrong because it forces people to work for no income.

    Among a pile of other things, yeah.