by Peter Wehner, Commentary
In the latest stop on his American Apology Tour, Obama aimed his fire at America on the issue of global warming (“the days when America dragged its feet on this issue are over”) and democracy (“in the past America has too often been selective in its promotion of democracy”). And Obama, after humbly declaring at the outset of his speech that “I am well aware of the expectations that accompany my presidency around the world . . . they are also rooted in hope—the hope that real change is possible, and the hope that America will be a leader in bringing about such change,” went on to say this:
I took office at a time when many around the world had come to view America with skepticism and distrust. Part of this was due to misperceptions and misinformation about my country. Part of this was due to opposition to specific policies, and a belief that on certain critical issues, America has acted unilaterally, without regard for the interests of others. This has fed an almost reflexive anti-Americanism, which too often has served as an excuse for our collective inaction.
Where oh where to begin? How about by pointing out that America did not act unilaterally in Iraq or anywhere else during the Bush presidency. For example, and for the record, more than 35 countries gave crucial support—from the use of naval and air bases to help with intelligence and logistics to the deployment of combat units. President Bush answered the “unilateral” charge in his 2004 State of the Union address:
Some critics have said our duties in Iraq must be internationalized. This particular criticism is hard to explain to our partners in Britain, Australia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Italy, Spain, Poland, Denmark, Hungary, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, the Netherlands, Norway, El Salvador, and the 17 other countries that have committed troops to Iraq. As we debate at home, we must never ignore the vital contributions of our international partners, or dismiss their sacrifices.
Second, the United States actually did have in mind the interests of others—beginning with 25 million Iraqis—when it acted. The Iraq war, whatever you think about its wisdom and execution, was in part a war of liberation, undertaken for noble purposes: to liberate a captive people and to depose an aggressive dictator. We know about the Iraqi regime under Saddam Hussein; it was one of the most brutal and malevolent in modern history. The fact that we believed the Iraq war advanced America’s national interests doesn’t mean it was a war waged without regard for the interests of others. And for Obama to allow this misperception of America to go unchallenged—indeed, to give such a false and malicious charge legitimacy—is disturbing.
Third, in his speech the President said, “I pledge that America will always stand with those who stand up for their dignity and their rights.” Oh really? If so, then why was he so reluctant to speak out for the brave Iranians who rose up against the brutal rule of President Ahmadinejad?
Perhaps Mr. Obama will come to understand that there is a problem when the president of the United States—an “inestimable jewel,” Lincoln called her—has harsher things to say about his own country than he does about many of the worst regimes on Earth.
It is all quite disturbing, and to have to say this about an American president almost makes me sick.