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)
bito – this is a spectacular post, and I thank you for it. I began to have a suspicion that President Obama was headed in a novel direction with respect to our foreign policy – not just a departure from Bush’s cowboy grandstanding – when he refused to rush in to support the coup in Honduras. Unlike every other slavering act of fealty to dictators (some put there by our CIA), the retraint displayed about supporting this rightwing coup was remarkable. You may recall it engendered HUGE outcry from our RW; they knew that for the first time, a US administration was NOT providing aid and comfort to corporate friendly anti-democracy dictators. The RW raised the specter of Nicaraguan troops massing at the Nicaragua/Honduras border to push Obama to intervene. I asked a friend, living in Nicaragua, if it was true, and he said not remotely. Apparently Obama asked the right people, too.
By not rushing into every spat, every border skirmish, every incident, he has broken with Cold War politics. His actions have been in support of self determination for various groups seeking democracy, and even in Afghanistan, I think the motives are powerful even if I fundamentally disagree with the tactics.
I do think America is trying to grow up, trying to become a very different kind of world leader. Now the big question is – will the RW allow Obama be that kind or president, let this nation be that kind of global power, let us stop being the biggest bully on the block and start being a force for real democracy even if it’s NOT in our nation’s immediate, grasping, greedy interest?
Only time will tell.
Thank you for your kind words C’Lady and your example on Honduras was perfect. His not rushing into every conflict, especially those that are supported by the corporate/ anti-democratic forces was a show of the end of the SOP cold war program.
I have absolutely no idea if he, Obama, embraces the ‘Mr.Y’ report, but I do see much of it in his speeches and actions.
Will the RW allow for him to make these changes? Highly doubtful. Lokking at just the ME, there were both cries of “go-in and why did he go in” sometimes out of the mouths of the same person (Palin/Newt…)
Just today (Tuesday) Mitt mouthed the lie of “he is going around ‘apologizing for US'” (name me one time Mitt, show me the quote)ans without saying what his foreign policy is, he said The President doesn’t have one.
In the words of Fareed Zakaria “I wish every legislature and voter read this report.”
Thank you, bito, for reminding us if this important work by “Y”. And of the President’s agreement with, if not indeed his initiation of, the National Strategic Narrative.
I couldn’t help but think of Barbara Tuchman – the great popular historian—and her finest book: “The March of Folly.”
In her book, Tuchman defines folly as acts clearly contrary to the self-interest of the group pursuing them; conducted over a period of time, not just in a single burst of irrational behavior; conducted by a number of individuals, not just one deranged maniac; and, importantly, there have to be people who at the time who pointed out correctly why the act in question was folly.
Her first example of folly is that of the infamous Trojan Horse. In that episode, Laocoon, a blind priest, warns the Trojans that the horse might be filled with the Greeks soldiers. The authors of the National Strategic Narrative are our Laocoons.
I feel that like Laocoon, the President and the Generals will be ignored. We are in the grips of stubborn ignorance and ideology. It seems overwhelming to me—the blind autopilot of greed and folly. While I know that there are crafty and evil players pulling the strings of the stupid dolts in office and in the media, I also think that most of our leaders in the GOP and some Dems are plain, droolingly stupid. They are no different than any cross-section of the population and as such, have no more interest or ability to think.
Every day, I read what the Right wants for this country, and the very fact that they have any validity—that they are not literally scorned and laughed away—is extremely discouraging. I see our President remaining composed, determinedly pushing on with the agenda he knows is best for this nation, while at the same time understanding that most of what must be done will never happen in this insane time. Yet he perseveres and we must too—against all the odds. Honestly, I can’t foresee that much of what needs to happen will in fact happen. This country is just too stupid. Yes, I see that many have awakened and are getting more active—which is fantastic. But it may prove to be too little too late. You see, all those who said, “Let it all come down—let’s rebuild from the ashes!” never foresaw how low we could sink and more important, how much time and effort it is to rebuild. It will be two steps forward, one step back for years to come. So, yeah, we will rebuild if we have the time, but at the same time, those forces against us—the Kochs, DeVoses, ALEC, et al, –they will not stop and sit back while we push back. And they have been given a head start. Those who said let it get really bad and “rebuild” never seem to remember that. They think the slate will magically be swept clean. It won’t. We have lost a lot of ground and must TRIPLE our efforts now just to get back to where we were before Bush—let alone before the 2010 elections.
So, I am grateful we have one of the very best Presidents in our history at this critical moment. But I also realize that he is up against a tsunami of obstacles and if we don’t actively, relentlessly support him NOW, we are truly over. Whatever our gripes, they are at this point petty compared to the opposition. Petty and folly.
Cher – you have articulated my concerns so powerfully! I shudder when I hear so-called “progressives” speak those words, too: “let it crash and burn, and WE will rebuild it the way it should be!” Who’s “WE”??? Progressives are not in the ascendence – there are not nearly enough of us, and the nation is still significantly under the thumb of the Right. How in the world would “we” have power enough to offset the money and control of both the materialistic Right and the Dominionists?
If those who refuse to vote for a man who is making significant change continue to opt out to “keep their integrity” we are doomed. Why can they not see that he has reversed course totally over what came before – not just Bush but 60 years of Cold War mentality?
Sinclair Lewis’s “It Can’t Happen Here” is a must read for all of us. It CAN happen, IS happening, and if we do NOT pay attention and act in concert with a seriously great leader, we will lose it all, and then the brown shirts – wearing pin stripes and power ties to be sure – will regain control. We have a great moment – the Right has overplayed its hand, and people are pissed. But if we do NOT seize the moment, then all will be lost. And this time, since yes, we ARE starting from about 1926 in terms of balance of power, we will slide back to the 1890s or worse.
We cannot sit out 2012. We cannot sit it out on ANY level which means if your Dems really suck in your district, you MUST join the local Dem committees and start putting forward GOOD candidates. The Right began at that fundamental level. So must we. We will never again have such a great opportunity to move a really humane and far-sighted agenda if we lose the House, the Senate, the White House. We cannot let it slip through our fingers as we have time and time before.
If we want a civilized nation, we have to create it. We have a lot of catching up to do. Start now.
It’s hard to believe that was written by military men. More than anything, it strikes me as a realistic, mature, and emotionally stable approach — as opposed to a place of hysteria and paranoia, where much of our recent (last 50 years) foreign policy seems to come from. Although I’m not clear on the exact connection between this document and an “Obama doctrine,” it does seem to reflect his attitude. I didn’t see his speech the other day — has Obama mentioned this treatise at some point?
In a way, it just seems to be calling for the US simply to be the grown up in the room and to lead by doing the right thing. It describes the USA that I believed we were, when I was very young and before I studied politics in college and realized that we misbehave just as badly or worse than many of the nations we demonize. This is one area where the difference between dems and republicans becomes extremely obvious. Democratic president behave much better abroad than republican presidents do. It’s the difference between “how can we work this out?” and “my way or the highway.” That is my perception, anyway.
e’cat, the “Obama Doctrine?” is completely my own and it is a question as much as a statement. The reason I see it is from many of his speeches and I could see him saying many of the things in the report, such as this one:
I see that thought in his ME/NA speech
And this from the FP article:
Has he not been expressing this for years?
And no, I don’t know if he has ever spoken publicly on the report and I can’t find anything after a quick search.
Beyond the fact that this was written by two military officers, this was not leaked out but published through channels which may very well have meant that is went through both Adm. Mullin’s and Secretary Gates offices. No public seal of approval, but either one of them could have stopped it from being published. Adding to that, both of them have pushed for more funding to the Dept. of State and USAID and alternative energy on military bases.
Am I grasping at too many straws, trying to make a bundle?
Also, A quick read on why conservatives and liberals think differently. You have probably seen this but it makes sense given where we want to go and the obstruction we face. Finding non-threatening messages might help–a whole new lingual theory for moving into the 21st century.
Bito, I’m here with my coffee just having finished reading this (the National Strategic Initiative is exactly what I was trying to locate! And thank you for that). I am sending this to friends and to my legislators. This is so important to our development here and throughout the world. We can see the opportunities if only we can stop the “Might is Right” people.
These opportunities are just so much more exciting; one can see the world unfolding into hope rather than the despair we’ve seen. And it’s happening now. We need to act soon to be part of it and/or “lead” it. It’s so big and yet so obvious and simple. I get really excited by these ideas. When I read Mr Y (late April?), I was impressed that our military would present these ideas. Giddy is what I am! So, I’ll reign myself in a bit.
My feelings about Stalin are part of my history and I wouldn’t be here had it not happened. You in no way offended me. Quite the contrary. I’m just so pleased that you presented this. Giddy still that these ideas have been presented by a substantial, “reputable”, and non liberal source.
This is the time that President Obama can influence change–by being who he is. He’s the closest to being right we have and, to your point, we do need to help him. Thank you for this article. It’s explosive in a good way–so many ideas for this holiday.
food, I was exited about the report also and was hoping it would get some major coverage, foolish me. I should know better that the only thing the MSM cal talk about is petty politics and not a serious policy discussion.
Keep spreading around, I do, I don’t know how to get a fire lit under this, but I keep emailing and tweeting it. It’s smart policy for the future, plain and simple.
Thanks, Bito. I will read it.
What a wonderful article, b’ito, especially on this Memorial Day weekend. I had written a ridiculously long comment on it and then somehow lost the whole thing with a slip of the finger. Sigh…. 🙁
I’ll try to reconstruct the gist of it, at least. That being that the Obama ME speech and the National Strategic Narrative have in common the fact that they come from a place of real optimism and idealism. After so many, many years of cynical and self-servingly greed-oriented policies, it’s almost hard to take in the magnitude of this paradigm shift.
And, like you, I was pleasantly surprised — although I realize I really shouldn’t have been — to see that a Navy officer and a Marine Corps officer produced the National Strategic Narrative. How cool. Especially after Gitmo and Abu Graib, how cool. Finally, the nobler elements in the military get to have their say.
It seems to be difficult for the RW to comprehend the notions in the speech and the document. They’re so dug-in in their perception of the world as a dog-eat-dog, kill-or-be-killed environment that policy based on reality-based hope and cooperation rather than coercion is nearly incomprehensible to them. I think they feel that Obama and his administration are surely “up to something.” There must be some “strategery” involved that will result in a big power/money payoff for them and their cronies. So their reaction to his administration has ranged from bafflement at best to open hostility and subversion at worst.
After all, in their world, if you don’t understand something, you shoot first and ask questions later.
They’re having a very, very hard time with a President who feels at home in the 21st century.
k’es, there are many insightful thoughts and words in your comment but two words jump out at me.
Yes those are exactly the right words and will the RW begin to realize, comprehend (your words) in the changes of of the world of the future, or will it become the nothing but an objection and not see the the future, becoming nothing but a the”ostrich with his head in the sand” and isn’t even that hole rather shallow?
We cannot afford sending over 50% of our revenues on military, we need to invest and that does not include a new aircraft carrier and it’s battle group. What other country is that stupid?
I have no idea about the begets of the report and Mr, Obama’s words from when he was a state senator and his latest words, but I did notice that both these young military men, the authors, and The President’s vision of the future coincide. I lived my entire life of war and containment and now I do wish a better future. Both visions, those of Mr. Obama and the authors should not be ignored.
Oh wait, S’arah was on a motorcycle.
This is the inevitable direction we have to go in. There needs to be serious talk about our financial sector though. They can do as much damage as any bomb. Ending our foreign conflicts would help us focus I think.
There’s A LOT of things that have to change. We send contractors overseas and they build shitty, borderline hazardous buildings then they charge us for every cent of it.
A great first step would be getting off oil but that’s never happening. And considering we’ll be fighting wars over it by the end of the century, the rest is gonna be kind of difficult.
“inevitable direction we have to go in”? Well, yes it has been since Eisenhower’s farewell speech warning against the war machine, yet it has long lived on for years. This report is an opportunity for a change. The question of of clean energy/dependence is mentioned and is a critical part of the report.
As for your second sentence, I can offer you this from the report:
As a 30 something, you have the ability to work for getting the world out of the war mentality and respect other cultures, religions and boundaries.
Yes, there is a lot to change and change does not come easy.
Many have gazed at the stars but few have taken time to realize it’s rhythm. The same exists in social progress. Grasp this opportunity and advance it.
Bito, I love that you did this. Sitting out on our patio listening to “Vacation” inspired music and some pretty nice Washington wine, I want to say this: These three men sold my country to Stalin who killed my family. I look at the photo and it’s visceral. But to move forward to the more relevant, I will read it tomorrow with coffee in hand. It just strikes me that it doesn’t change. The same players still make the same news. I no longer am an anglophile (Literature excepted). Borders, settlements, treaties. One has to wonder what we have learned over the years and if we are prepared to change. Forgive me because I know I have not served your article well. You present very tight and thoughtful ideas that do not suffer fools. But I’m very glad you broached a difficult subject.
food, I cannot even pretend to fully understand your feelings about the image in post that is why it was captioned “not the future”. Forgive me for any offense or memories. That is why I feel that this report is important and should not be neglected. We must change from the war and cold war mentality and we can not allow this document allow to gather dust. It offers an opportunity to bring respect not war and neglect. I t offers an opportunity for an optimistic future not a warring past.
foodchain – you have lived the life and consequences that give me cold chills when I hear of them and think of what it must have been like. I’m so dreadfully sorry that happened to your family. We in the US are so lucky, and we give way too little thought to those whose sense of peace and security have been eviscerated by madmen. On this Memorial Day, we send you our thoughts, prayers, energies, and hopes – and thanks for the courage to go on. You have lived our nightmares, and we can only thank you for being here with us, who understand far too little of what you experienced. We will try never EVER to let it happen again.
Choicelady, what a kind thoughts. My mother and her sisters had the worst–I was too little. And being “displaced” here was a pretty good outcome for us all.
But I do think, as you point out, that people like Rumsfeld and Cheney, who want might and power, never understand the consequences in human life or in the on going hostilities that wars create. There’s something about war on your own soil, seeing the devastation (911 but the scope larger and over a greater period) that escapes our war mongers. Maybe we could set them down in a “Clockwork Orange setting. 😉 And thank you again for your kind thoughts. The world needs them
I think with Obama, we have that choice if we start working together..