Obama’s grandiose equivocation 6

President Obama’s speech on what he is planning to do about the war in Afghanistan was the speech of a deeply committed radical with a mind soaked in the toxic ideology of the Left, challenged to explain to himself and his ideological comrades just why he was continuing to wage war in a Third World country in defiance of all their passionately held ideals.

Pity the man! What a task he was forced to set himself!

As president of the United States, addressing men serving in his country’s military, he had to present his decision to commit 30,000 more troops to the war as a move reflecting an unswerving appreciation of their willing sacrifice, a determination to win, and a passion for upholding the honor of the country he leads. In  none of this he believes, but he had to say he did. He had to come across as encouraging, dedicated to the cause, intent on achieving goals for which his audience were willing to give their lives. He had to sound sincere when he was not. As part of the act, but making his task even harder for himself, he chose to announce his new strategy for the war at the Military Academy at West Point, which Chris Matthews of MSNBC called, speaking for peaceniks of the left everywhere, the ‘enemy’s camp’.

At the same time he had to be true to his political faith, which is in absolute opposition to any war waged by the United States on or in a Third World country, especially against an Islamic movement. His speech had to signal to the pacifist faction of the American left, the whole of the international left, and to Muslims world-wide that he was in principle against the war, against all war, against America being militarily strong, against America being the mightiest power and the most successful capitalist country in the world.

No wonder it took him months to work out what to do and how to spin it. Did he succeed? Superficially, yes. The speech, amazingly, so well fulfills his contradictory needs that it could almost be called a masterpiece of equivocation. At least until it is scrutinized in detail. Then the irreconcilable bits show up all too plainly.

How did he do it?

Pick the speech apart and you can see how it was done. For instance, for the voters and the patriots, for the generals and the soldiers, for the fulfillment of the duties of his office – let’s put all of these into a category headed Patriots –  he says:

On September 11, 2001, 19 men hijacked four airplanes and used them to murder nearly 3,000 people. They struck at our military and economic nerve centers. They took the lives of innocent men, women and children …’

Then for the left revolutionaries, for the pacifists, for Islam, for America-haters, for the panel of Marxist advisers in his White House, for his dead communist father, his  hippy mother, his wife, his best friends, for his Marxist professors and mentors and benefactors, his pastors, his erstwhile Alinsky-team employers,  for his  terrorist associates, for ACORN and the SEIU, for his whole revolutionary base, and for Islam their ally – let’s put all these into a category headed the Left – he says:

‘… without regard to their faith or race or station.’

What could this mean?  What faiths or races or stations in life could have been regarded, taken into consideration, which would have qualified the evil of the act? We know the answers. If the only people to be hit had for certain been white, been captains of the ‘military-industrial complex’, been Christians and Jews, then the attack would have been more understandable, perhaps excusable, perhaps even justified. No, it isn’t said. But it is implied. What other meaning can be found in the words?

In paragraph after paragraph the pieces stand out as these for the Patriots, these  for the Left. (And there are a few that do for both, such as those strongly condemning al-Qaeda – safely enough since many Islamic states are fervently against it.)

First for the Patriots: He tells the soldiers that he has been very good to them; they really have nothing to complain about. He has ’signed a letter of condolence to the family of each American who gives their life in these wars’; he has read the letters sent to him by ‘the parents and spouses of those who deployed’; he visited wounded warriors at Walter Reed; and he ‘traveled to Dover to meet the flag-draped caskets of 18 Americans returning home to their final resting place’. And here are more sops to Patriots: ‘A testament to the character of our men and women in uniform’; ‘thanks to their courage, grit and perseverance’; ‘as cadets you volunteered for service during the time of danger’; ‘as your commander in chief I owe you a mission that is clearly defined and worthy of your service’; ‘I make this decision because I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan’; ‘we will pursue a military strategy that will break the Taliban’s momentum’; ‘to abandon this area now would significantly hamper our ability to keep the pressure on al-Qaeda, and create an unacceptable risk of additional attacks on our homeland and our allies’; ‘the struggle against violent extremism will not be finished quickly’; ‘it will be an enduring test of our free society, and our leadership in the world’; ‘where al-Qaeda and its allies attempt to establish a foothold – whether in Somalia or Yemen or elsewhere – they must be confronted by growing pressure and strong partnerships’; ‘we have to improve our intelligence so that we stay one step ahead of shadowy networks’; ‘our country has borne a special burden in global affairs’; we have spilled American blood in many countries’; ’we have not always been thanked for these efforts’; ‘more than any other nation, the United States of America has underwritten global security for over six decades’; ’unlike the great powers of old,  we have not sought world domination’; ‘we do not seek to occupy other nations’; ‘we are still heirs to a noble struggle for freedom’; ‘men and women in uniform are part of an unbroken line of sacrifice that has made government of the people, by the people and for the people a reality on this Earth’.

Most of the rest of the speech is primarily to placate the Left and Islam. It would be tediously long to quote, so here’s a summary and interpretaion:  Al Qaeda  has ‘distorted and defiled Islam’; it has even attacked Muslims, for instance in Amman and Bali; our use of force in Afghanistan was fully sanctioned by both Congress and the UN’s international approval;  then we were distracted from pursuing it properly by  the unjustifiable, illegal war that Bush (not named but fully blamed) waged on Iraq;  although I am going to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, after 18 months all our troops will begin to come home; after that we’ll keep a kindly eye on the progress the Afghans make in becoming a country that is not corrupt, holds elections without fraud, and grows something more desirable than opium;  we must exercise restraint in the use of military force; in any case we cannot afford to wage war because we have an economic crisis and what resources we have must be used to change America to you-know-what; I don’t really like bothering with foreign affairs at all very much, but since I  have to let me remind you that we’ve got other tasks to do in the world, for instance in ‘disorderly regions’ (such as, not needing to be named to those who know, the Middle East); we’d rather negotiate peace than fight for it, even with the Taliban; but if the Taliban has to be fought let Pakistan do the fighting, we’ll pay them to do it; I am pursuing the goal of a world without nuclear weapons; I’ve prohibited torture; I’ll close the prison at Guantanamo Bay; I’ll speak out for human rights everywhere in the world (okay, not in China, or Cuba, or Venezuela, or Saudi Arabia, or … No, he doesn’t imply this, it just happens to be the case.)

But he fears he might not have pleased both sides after all. He anticipates disagreement and rebukes it:

‘This vast and diverse citizenry will not always agree on every issue — nor should we. But I also know that we, as a country, cannot sustain our leadership nor navigate the momentous challenges of our time if we allow ourselves to be split asunder by the same rancor and cynicism and partisanship that has in recent times poisoned our national discourse.’

He ends with a series of grandiose but entirely empty rhetorical flourishes designed to elicit applause, which they did as a mater of courtesy and custom, though most of the speech was listened to without it. No wonder. It was a self-serving exercise, not improved by the flattery bestowed on the audience.

‘America, we are passing through a time of great trial. And the message that we send in the midst of these storms must be clear: that our cause is just, our resolve unwavering. We will go forward with the confidence that right makes might, and with the commitment to forge an America that is safer, a world that is more secure, and a future that represents not the deepest of fears but the highest of hopes. …’

Are the Patriots deceived? Is the Left placated and are Muslims appeased?  It remains  to be seen.

Jillian Becker  December 2, 2009