Friday, December 11, 2009


Discussion of Part of President Obama's Peace Prize Acceptance Speech

Here is a transcript of President Obama's Oslo Speech yesterday. Diomedes, Hugh Hewitt, Paul Mirengoff and even Sarah Palin liked it. I was less than thrilled although I certainly was thinking earlier that he would do far worse. I'm more with former UN Ambassador Bolton and Victor Davis Hanson.

I will give the speech two cheers, First, Obama realizes (or so he says) that there are limits to diplomacy and non-violent struggle and that the Ghandi/King approach wouldn't have worked in Nazi Germany. One of Dinesh D'Souza's teachers put it much more eloquently (and starkly): If Ghandi had tried what he did in India in Germany in the 1930s, he'd be a lampshade today. Oh, and would it be gauche or pedantic of me to point out that the Ghandi/King method of non-violent struggle (Civil Disobedience) was invented by Henry Thoreau? Probably. Forget I wrote that last then.

Second, Obama seem to say he embraces the Catholic catechism regarding the concept of just war, which he described as: War as a last resort or in self defense; proportional response; and, with protection of civilians. Actually here is the Church on the subject:

In this regard Just War doctrine gives certain conditions for the legitimate exercise of force, all of which must be met:

"1. the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;

2. all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;

3. there must be serious prospects of success;

4. the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition" [CCC 2309].

So, close enough.

But here is part of what I hated about the speech. Obama said that Afghanistan was a just war and kicking Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait in Gulf War I was a just war but, impliedly, deposing Saddam Hussein in 2003 was not a just war. Hold on there, kitty cat. If Gulf War I was a just war, and it was, then Gulf War II was necessarily a just war too. Gulf War I ended, like the Korean War, not with victory and a treaty, but with a cease fire agreement which required certain things of both sides. We kept our side of the deal. Saddam kept almost none of his legally binding promises. If the end of just Gulf War I was a sham because of Saddam Hussein's actions, wouldn't the resumption of the war after decades of efforts, all in vain, to get him to live up to his side of the deal be the very definition of just war. The original justness of the cause was not dissipated by a cease fire agreement which was breached again and again by Saddam Hussein. I don't think President Obama can see this truth. I really don't.

Obama said that we have to be held to a higher standard of conduct in war, which is why he praised himself for prohibiting torture by Americans (an unnecessary act) and for closing Guantanamo (still premature for praise there--get back to us when it is actually closed and the results are a more just confinement of illegal combatants). Obama also said that he has "reaffirmed" Americas commitment to the Geneva Conventions. We have almost never strayed from the requirements of the Geneva Conventions. It is our enemy in the current war which completely ignores the international rules. Our current enemies don't even wear uniforms. They are, like pirates, saboteurs or spies, not entitled to any protection of the Geneva Conventions and can be summarily executed when captured.

That Obama has placed unnecessary and dangerous rules of engagement on our troops in Afghanistan and has afforded to a selected-by-whim few of our illegal enemies the same constitutional rights as American citizens. He is treating our illegal enemies better than we treated our savage, but at least they were in uniform, enemies in WWII. He is rewarding their flaunting flouting (thanks for the correction, D) of the international law of warfare. That's not praiseworthy. It's certainly not self-praiseworthy. It is moral preening at the expense of the lives of our soldiers, et al., and to the detriment of our national security.

I really hate it when our commander in chief endanger our soldiers, et al., and all of us, so the Euro-elites will like him more. It just seems more like treason to me. I certainly can't call it good leadership.

There was much more to hate, but it's late.



Again we must agree to disagree. Although, you are able to mount a legal argument that justifies GW II, it hardly fits the definition of a just war. Yes, Saddam Hussein was a monster, but he posed no credible threat to our national security.

Unless Iraq remains stable (I confess it is doing better than I Thought it would although the challenges it faces are monumental) then the cost benefit analysis will prove that that GW II was a mistake. Already, it seems a mistake b/c by removing Saddam, we made Iran the most powerful nation in the region.

Secondly, although it is maddening that our armed forces are constrained in Afghanistan, the alternative is worse. If the Aghani civilian population views our forces as murdering invaders, he Taliban wins. We have to better than the Taliban and that means very unwarlike rules of engagement.

Finally, my junior year English teacher at DA was fond of telling the story of when Ralph Waldo Emerson came upon Henry David Thoreau who was in jail for failing to pay the poll tax.

"Why Henry," Mr. Emerson asked, "What are you doing in there?"

"Why Ralph," Mr. Thoreau replied, "What are you doing out there?"

It is not as narrow as 'threat to our national security.' Saddam invading Iran or Kuwait was not a threat to our national security. You made, I think, a wrong step from the start. You don't give enough credit to living not under a dictatorship. I think it's worth a lot even if it's a very messy near democracy that follows. We already have shown ourselves to be better than the Taliban. And we should kill them as fast as possible without many of us dying. Nothing else matters to me but protection of the innocent while we're doing it. Giving the Taliban types the first shot or a sort of amnesty while in a house is more than we need to do to protect the innocent. My history teacher told the same story but he said the tax concerned the Mexican War. The detail doesn't really change the point of the story. I still like 'a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of a small mind' better.

Your philosophy of killing the Taliban as fast as possible, with no thought w/ respect to collateral damage to civilians, reveals a fundamental lack of knowledge regarding the intrinsic nature of the Afghan War.

My statement about killing Taliban was followed immediately by a statement that protection of the innocent also mattered a lot. Do you actually read my comments before you criticise them?
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