America Cops to the World - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
America Cops to the World

Is this irony or what?

President Barack H. Obama went to the U.N. to announce it is time for the U.S. to stop being smug, arrogant and condescending about its international role, in a preachment he delivered with a tone and manner that could only be described as smug, arrogant, and condescending. He hardly came across as a humble penitent confessing the conclusion of his agonizing soul-searching, especially since the only souls he searched were those of previous occupants of his office. He was content to filet the soul of George W. Bush and serve it up in a bowl of homily grits.

It bothers me some that our President sees in our history a greater source of regret than of pride, but that bother I could shirk with a shrug. What is truly nettlesome is that every word in every sentence in every paragraph in every speech is trite, hackneyed boilerplate Leftism 101 available at a university near you. Not one solitary original insight eye-opened anybody. We have heard this stuff ad nauseam and having this man of putative brilliance recycle this pap is more than a bit disturbing. Instead of boring into the yawning chasm between the competing worldviews that define our time, he bored us into a chasmal yawn.

What is Obama’s main point? He says the United States has been too conceited in the past, needs to be more contrite in future and cannot be the world’s policeman. For this I had to get up early in the morning? What is new, even slightly new, in this? It reminds me of W.C. Fields, whose doctor told him if he did not stop drinking he had only six months to live. Twenty hard-guzzling years later, he went to a different doctor who gave him the same warning. “You must be a very masterful physician,” Fields said. “Two decades after the fact, you confirmed precisely the diagnosis of a top specialist.”

Throughout the 1970s we heard this refrain repeatedly. It was posed as an argument to vacate Vietnam, to be polite to Communists in Chile, to defer to Khomeini and his crazies in Iran, to yield to Mugabe’s murderers in Rhodesia (now called Jim Bob Something-or-other). Of those four examples, we stupidly acquiesced to every one of those complaints or demands or whatever they were, with the exception of Chile. The result? Vietnam turned Communist and brutalized the lives of millions. At least now it has normalized to some degree. Iran became a madhouse and Zimbabwe a charnel house. Only Chile has been stable and normal, affording full rights to its citizens.

Ronald Reagan became President in 1981, and all that did was amplify this leftwing litany into a cacophony. Even NPR raised its voices loud enough to be heard over the refrigerator motor. The visionaries of the left have no hindsight, so the killing fields in Cambodia and the farrago of fallout from the disastrous ’70s did not slow them down one stride — with the notable exception of the recently departed Irving Kristol and a few fine friends. 

When Bill Clinton became President in 1993, that view was again the official one. In his second term, Madeleine Albright became Secretary of State, openly declaring then — as she did again last week in a speech — that the United States should not be the only superpower. If we are too strong the world lacks symmetry, you see. But again, today our point is less the inanity of all this, but the stupefyingly, stutltifyingly passé nature of this set of ideas or sentiments whose time has long since come and gone.

Perhaps originality is overrated. Perhaps we should go back to old ideas. But if so, let’s not recycle failed ideas from the last two centuries. Let’s go back to the oldest ideas of all, ones that have stood the test of time. If we do that, we shall discover that evil will always be present, that it will prey upon the weak if it is not stopped by the strong, and that when the virtuous are blessed with strength they are obligated to lead in protecting the weak.

One postscript to Obama’s speech. After he said we cannot be the world’s policeman, and other countries need to get into the act, the Swiss complied. They arrested Roman Polanski for something he did 32 years ago to a woman who is now a grandmother and would like the case closed. I’m feelin’ safer already.

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