Friday, December 11, 2009

Obama's Peace Speech...Justifying War


If you missed the speech in Norway yesterday morning, you can read the entire transcript here.

I thought this was a superb speech with some moving passages that I truly hope Obama believes and not just read from a teleprompter.

"...But the world must remember that it was not simply international institutions -- not just treaties and declarations -- that brought stability to a post-World War II world. Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest -- because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if others' children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.

So yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace. And yet this truth must coexist with another -- that no matter how justified, war promises human tragedy. The soldier's courage and sacrifice is full of glory, expressing devotion to country, to cause, to comrades in arms. But war itself is never glorious, and we must never trumpet it as such..."


"...We do not have to live in an idealized world to still reach for those ideals that will make it a better place. The non-violence practiced by men like Gandhi and King may not have been practical or possible in every circumstance, but the love that they preached -- their fundamental faith in human progress -- that must always be the North Star that guides us on our journey."


"...Ronald Reagan's efforts on arms control and embrace of perestroika not only improved relations with the Soviet Union, but empowered dissidents throughout Eastern Europe."


I think a part of all of us have wanted a liberal to address the fact that wars have ended slavery, communism, Nazism and genocide...and finally one did. Though, of course, there were parts of the speech I would have re-written, but I was happy to hear that there are some wars he feels were necessary and actions that warrant military action--and though we might aspire to the peaceful resolutions that Martin Luther King advocated...sometimes that option isn't feasible.

So optimism says this a glimpse of an evolving ideology in a novice leader that is gradually seeing a reality he didn't previously understand...(though cynicism says it's a speech to justify the award...).

(I should add that this doesn't change my perception of Obama as a threat to a Free Market America...just that I appreciated the speech and I can say that because I'm not like the Bush-Haters...)

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