What was the ME/NA speech on? Was is it about Israel and Palestine? One would think so listening to most media reports, it was, yet it was but a portion, not even in the body of the speech, more of a footnote, a needed footnote.
It was more a vision of the future, a refuting of the “Bush Doctrine” and it’s military intervention, strike first-ask questions later and an introduction of what may later be known “Obama Doctrine”, if one takes time to read it, and I hope you do.
It is difficult for me to find a certain passage, it is the whole speech in context that speaks often of education, dignity, free flow of information, equality and respect as opposed to words about saber rattling, “bring em on and “axis of evil.” Words of support for reform, not threats of “you will reform–or else.”
“We will continue to make good on the commitments that I made in Cairo – to build networks of entrepreneurs, and expand exchanges in education; to foster cooperation in science and technology, and combat disease. Across the region, we intend to provide assistance to civil society, including those that may not be officially sanctioned, and who speak uncomfortable truths. And we will use the technology to connect with – and listen to – the voices of the people.”
Just words? Yes. And it was just words like WMD’s and “mushroom clouds” that sent many people to their deaths. And a majority accepted those “words” Can we not now accept words of acceptance, respect, dignity and hope just as easily?
Will we miss it, the real message of the speech? Will the left/right extremes harp on “threw Israel under the bus and from the right “he went too far” or from different corners “what about Bahrain, Libya, Syria, what about us, me?”
Read his words from when he was running for state Senator , to U.S. Senator , to President. They haven’t faltered. His words ring true, only the pundits have changed with his office. The higher the elected office, the more oh-so important pudnut. The more he was noticed, the more the self proclaimed important people found it worthy to chime in, parse, but has his “vision” changed?
This from 2001 and his reaction to the bombing of “The Towers”
“The essence of this tragedy, it seems to me, derives from a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers: an inability to imagine, or connect with, the humanity and suffering of others,” he wrote. “Such a failure of empathy, such numbness to the pain of a child or the desperation of a parent, is not innate; nor, history tells us, is it unique to a particular culture, religion, or ethnicity….”
“We will have to make sure, despite our rage, that any U.S. military action takes into account the lives of innocent civilians abroad,” he went on. “We will have to be unwavering in opposing bigotry or discrimination directed against neighbors and friends of Middle Eastern descent. Finally, we will have to devote far more attention to the monumental task of raising the hopes of embittered children across the globe—children not just in the Middle East, but also in Africa, Asia, Latin American, Eastern Europe, and within our own shores.”
Or this from his 2004 keynote address at the Democratic Convention:
It is that fundamental belief — It is that fundamental belief: I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper that makes this country work. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams and yet still come together as one American family.
E pluribus unum: “Out of many, one.”
Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us — the spin masters, the negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of “anything goes.” Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America — there’s the United States of America.
I ask you, have his words changed so drastically? Were not today’s words that much different? Do they take that much parsing? Hope and change was not just a bumper sticker for him.
When I listened and read his speech, I knew he was embracing not just his views of a better world, but of a better world for the citizens of the U.S.A. Yes, the man is a patriot in the best sense of the word and he had taken time to read the “National Strategic Narrative” from the Pentagon and embraced it.
Never heard of the “National Strategic Narrative” ? Understandable. I think CNN had 5 minutes, Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell did 5-6 minutes on it and I don’t think it was covered much more than that. It’s an important study and I ask you to review it and study it if you call yourself a liberal/progressive or just ‘merican.
Keep in mind, this came out of The Pentagon, the military, the war machine. It warns that our security should not be based on the military but our prosperity, our educating, our infrastructure, manufacturing, R&D, alternative energy/energy security…… NOT THE MILITARY! The Military Industrial Complex! The country, can not exist spending over 50% of our GDP on war and arms.
Some selections of the “National Strategic Narrative” introduction and enough that I hope will entice you to look at the study.
“The assumptions of the 20th century, of the U.S. as
a bulwark first against fascism and then against communism, make little sense in a world in
which World War II and its aftermath is as distant to young generations today as the War of 1870
was to the men who designed the United Nations and the international order in the late 1940s.
Consider the description of the U.S. president as “the leader of the free world,” a phrase that
encapsulated U.S. power and the structure of the global order for decades. Yet anyone under
thirty today, a majority of the world’s population, likely has no idea what it means.”
Based on that
foundation, the strategic narrative of the Cold War was that the United States was the leader of
the free world against the communist world; that we would invest in containing the Soviet
Union and limiting its expansion while building a dynamic economy and as just, and
prosperous a society as possible. We often departed from that narrative in practice, as George
Kennan was one of the first to recognize. But it was a narrative that fit the facts of the world we
perceived well enough to create and maintain a loose bipartisan national consensus for forty years.
In one sentence, the strategic narrative of the United States in
the 21st century is that we want to become the strongest competitor and most influential
player in a deeply inter-connected global system, which requires that we invest less in
defense and more in sustainable prosperity and the tools of effective global engagement.
1) From control in a closed system to credible influence in an open system.
2) From containment to sustainment.
3) From deterrence and defense to civilian engagement and competition.
4) From zero sum to positive sum global politics/economics.
5) From national security to national prosperity and security.
With all the ongoing budget talks and demands from the right on social cuts this plan needs to be read and put forward by the Democrats. This is a plan for a prosperous future though investment not curtailment. Please take some time to become familiar with the plan and send it to your Senators and Representatives and tell them the country is in need of long range goals not the mid-term to mid-term plans we seem to have now. We need to stop planning for the last wars and plan for the future. Remove ourselves from cold war strategies and realize the future is not in the military but economic security and human rights.
Enough to make you curious? No time to read? Here is a 5 minute look at it from Fareed Zakaria :
- “Live-Blog: President Obama’s Middle East Speech” and related posts (wnyc.org)