Entry from July 13, 2009

Here’s President Obama’s history of the Cold War, as told to a group of students at Moscow University, according to Liz Cheney in today’s Wall Street Journal: 

The American and Soviet armies were still massed in Europe, trained and ready to fight. The ideological trenches of the last century were roughly in place. Competition in everything from astrophysics to athletics was treated as a zero-sum game. If one person won, then the other person had to lose. And then within a few short years, the world as it was ceased to be. Make no mistake: This change did not come from any one nation. The Cold War reached a conclusion because of the actions of many nations over many years, and because the people of Russia and Eastern Europe stood up and decided that its end would be peaceful.

Ms Cheney asks “whether this was just an attempt to push ‘reset’ — or maybe to curry favor” but correctly notes that it is not only egregiously false but false in ways that we are coming to recognize are characteristic of our president.

Mr. Obama”s method for pushing reset around the world is becoming clearer with each foreign trip. He proclaims moral equivalence between the U.S. and our adversaries, he readily accepts a false historical narrative, and he refuses to stand up against anti-American lies. The approach was evident in his speech in Moscow and in his speech in Cairo last month. In Cairo, he asserted there was some sort of equivalence between American support for the 1953 coup in Iran and the evil that the Iranian mullahs have done in the world since 1979. On an earlier trip to Mexico City, the president listened to an extended anti-American screed by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and then let the lies stand by responding only with, “I’m grateful that President Ortega did not blame me for the things that occurred when I was 3 months old.” Asked at a NATO meeting in France in April whether he believed in American exceptionalism, the president said, “I believe in American Exceptionalism just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” In other words, not so much.

“Perhaps, most concerning of all,” she adds, is the distinct possibility that “Mr. Obama believes what he said.”

I think it’s pretty clear that he does believe it, and in a way that casts light on other things he believes. Remember when he said, a propos of the war in Iraq, that he wasn’t against all wars, just dumb ones? Well, now we know that he thinks the Cold War was also one of the dumb ones. I wonder what war he thinks wasn’t dumb? I wonder how long it will be before he decides that the one in Afghanistan is dumb? In other words, he is a pacifist of a type that is becoming ever more common in the Democratic party and the media. Dumb wars are unnecessary wars, and being smart about war means finding the way to avoid it. And the underlying assumption is that, if you’re smart enough you always can find a way avoid it. Therefore, all those trillions we spent on defense against the Russian threat were wasted. All we had to do was to be smart enough to wait for “the people of Russia and Eastern Europe” to call time on it, having “decided that its end would be peaceful.”

If he really does believe such nonsense it is “concerning” indeed, but it is much of a piece with his thoughts on the nuclear arms race in an article, “Breaking the War Mentality,” that he wrote for the Columbia University student magazine, Sundial, in 1983 and that was reported on in The New York Times recently. The article,

which only recently has been rediscovered, said little about how to achieve the utopian dream. Twenty-six years later, the author, in his new job as president of the United States, has begun pushing for new global rules, treaties and alliances that he insists can establish a nuclear-free world. “I’m not na ve,” President Obama told a cheering throng in Prague this spring. “This goal will not be reached quickly — perhaps not in my lifetime. It will take patience and persistence.”

Note also characteristic Obama rhetorical tic of accusing an fictitious interlocutor of the same detachment from reality that he is himself guilty of. First in denying, here, that he is naive, and then in accusing his imaginary friend of naiveté:

“It’s naive for us to think,” he said, “that we can grow our nuclear stockpiles, the Russians continue to grow their nuclear stockpiles, and our allies grow their nuclear stockpiles, and that in that environment we’re going to be able to pressure countries like Iran and North Korea not to pursue nuclear weapons themselves.”

Also notice the Times’s acknowledgment that this is a “utopian dream” — but without any critical overtones. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! Why not utopia, after all? You can find one answer here, where you will also see another reason for thinking that the Democrats may be ready to embrace their label as the party of Utopia — which, as all good Hellenists will remember, means “no place.” Down with reality! Eh, Barack?

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