Thursday, December 17, 2009

Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize Speech – A Debate?

I found myself intrigued by Obama’s speech at the Nobel Awards. At first I didn’t know exactly why, and then it hit me. I was listening to a debate between President Bush and Jimmy Carter. It was Obama's mouth, but I heard two voices.

(Obama as President Bush) began by asserting that just war is the price of peace.

(Obama as Carter) countered by reading from his precut card by Hobbs – claiming a “dawn of history” when war was a disease or natural disaster, some kind of pre-moral phenomena.

Carter then makes a definitional argument; attempting to cast just war as: 1) a last resort, 2) in self-defense, and 3) required proportionality, insisting American troops in Afghanistan must have their hands tied like the hands of our troops in Vietnam. After all we must make “it” a fair fight for the Taliban.

President Bush counters by going directly to the cause of the wars in which America is justly involved; equating, Islamic extremism to Nazis aggression, and repudiates pacifism by reminding the world that, “A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms.” Thus, he recognizes the truth found in history and pays, albeit silent, tribute to the liberation of Iraq and Afghanistan. He then goes on to extol the virtues of American military strength and action throughout the past century. He notes the peace and prosperity victorious American armies brought to Germany, Korea, and the Balkans. He does not mention Japan or Iraq, nor does he point out that it was American military might that liberated Norway from Hitler and Quisling. It is the Bush Doctrine of creating peace and prosperity by the spread of freedom.

Then Carter is back. He invokes President Kennedy as the justification for an unusual and painfully relativist view of peace. According to Obama’s Carter voice, Kennedy says, “Let us focus on a more practical, more attainable peace, based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions.” In what must be a negative counter plan, Obama’s Carter voice calls for a reinterpretation of the laws of nations and war. Wars justified, not by universal truths, not by the Natural Laws that have always determined right and wrong, but based on the opinions of men and states; by something called evolved human institutions. He is willing to bind America, not to natural laws, but to rules of conduct crafted by the likes of NATO and the UN.

Carter then retreats to the political talking point that got so much mileage in the Obama campaign, half truths and manipulation. There is the claim to have prohibited torture, closed Guantanamo, and brought America into compliance with the Geneva Convention.

He then fills the air with more hollow plans and promises. A litany of should-do’s albeit without a single how to: ending nuclear weapons, imposing respect for international law on the two remaining members of the Axis of Evil, and the end of genocide in Darfur, the Congo, and Burma.

Then President George Bush takes the podium. “In some countries failure to uphold human rights is excused by the false suggestion that these are Western principles, foreign to local cultures or stages of a nation’s development. . . Peace is unstable where citizens are denied the right to speak freely or worship as they please; choose their own leaders or assemble without fear.” He piles up the evidence:

1. “Only when Europe became free did it finally find peace.”

2. “America has never fought a war against a democracy.”

3. “Our closest friends are governments that protect the rights of their citizens.”

4. “Neither America’s interests – nor the world’s – are served by the denial of human aspirations.”

Carter comes back: He couples exhortation with painstaking diplomacy, hoping for open doors that will somehow lure repressive regimes down “new paths”.

Then it’s President Bush again; reminding us of real success in diplomacy: He credits President Nixon for lifting the Chinese from poverty and Ronald Regan’s efforts on arms control, (the Star Wars initiative) as empowering dissidents throughout Eastern Europe.

Carter then argues that the solution is access to food, clean water, and medicine which will somehow magically appear if we accept the Global Warming agenda. In order to condemn globalization he seems to lament the loss of racial purity, tribalism, and religious bigotry.

President Bush points out that it is false religion that is used to justify the murder of innocents.

Carter rebuts in to claim that Crusaders did the same.

Bush explains that at the heart of every major religion is the Golden Rule and closes with an appeal to “that spark of the divine that still stirs within each of our souls.”

My Ballot:

I give the round to Obama as President Bush:

1. Just War – President Bush wins with Universal Truth and reason that have always enabled men to tell the difference between just and unjust war, and just war is always justified. President Bush proves that America might has always championed the good. Carter loses both by his retreat to the “evil natural man” position and by claiming that some sort of manmade construct can define right and wrong. This is Marx, Mao, and Hitler talking.

2. U. S. Power v International action - President Bush wins by presenting real examples of American success while Carter’s reliance on international organizations has no support in history or logic.

3. On the Democrat Party talking points – President Bush wins on facts vs sophistry.

a) On the claim that Obama prohibits torture – so did President Bush.

b) On the claim that Obama closes Guantanamo Bay - pure sophistry, moving Guantanamo to Illinois does not close the prison. Moving and changing the name will make no difference to the Haters.

c) On the kowtow to the Geneva Convention. America has never violated the Geneva Convention!

4. Carter’s promises are not substantiated. They are wasted rhetoric, he provides no evidence of any doors to open or any way his dreams will do so even if there were.

5. President Bush’s evidence of the positive effects of America’s just wars are historically supported and irrefutable.

6. Carter retreats into the Global Warming farce but provides no support of climate change or any reasonable connection to it and peace. If there is no climate disaster, there is no value in pretending there is one.

7. President Bush’s condemnation of fanatical religion is based on fact.

8. Carter’s “the Crusaders did it too” is neither true nor relevant. The claims against the Crusaders, now popular in some circles, condemn the Taliban “Holy” Warriors, not the American Heroes who fight for justice.

9. President Bush wins with the Golden Rule – universally applicable, divinely reasonable, and factual.

Déjà vu for me: in the end the whole speech was high school forensics.


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