It was wise for Obama to emphasize who is leaving rather than who is coming into power:
A year ago, Gadhafi was one of the world’s longest-serving dictators, a murderer with American blood on his hands. Today, he is gone.Hm, someone in Libya with “American blood on his hands”? Glad there’s nobody like that around anymore!
And in Syria, I have no doubt that the Assad regime will soon discover that the forces of change cannot be reversed and that human dignity cannot be denied.Oh, I’ll bet that a lot of Syrians are going to learn that human dignity can be denied in the face of ethnic massacres and a new regime where the Muslim Brotherhood rules and Salafists run around free to do as they please. (Though for U.S. interests it will be an improvement things could have been much better if America helped the moderates instead of the Islamists.)
And while it’s ultimately up to the people of the region to decide their fate, we will advocate for those values that have served our own country so well. We will stand against violence and intimidation. We will stand for the rights and dignity of all human beings, men and women, Christians, Muslims, and Jews. We will support policies that lead to strong and stable democracies and open markets, because tyranny is no match for liberty.Strange, but the democratic opposition movements say the precise opposite. See for example the open letter to Obama, written in the last few days, by an Egyptian human rights’ activist
begging the president to stop helping and praising the oppressive forces!
And we will safeguard America’s own security against those who threaten our citizens, our friends, and our interests. Look at Iran. Through the power of our diplomacy, a world that was once divided about how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program now stands as one. The regime is more isolated than ever before. Its leaders are faced with crippling sanctions. And as long as they shirk their responsibilities, this pressure will not relent. Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal.But Iran will get nuclear weapons, it continues working on them at a full pace, and you will spend this year in fruitless negotiations to try to persuade them to stop.
The renewal of American leadership can be felt across the globe. Our oldest alliances in Europe and Asia are stronger than ever. Our ties to the Americas are deeper. Our iron-clad commitment — and I mean iron-clad — to Israel’s security has meant the closest military cooperation between our two countries in history.Really? That’s not what I hear from people all over the world. It is the absence of American leadership they feel, sometimes to their great cost. Ask the Poles, and the Czechs, and the Saudis, and the democratic oppositionists in Iran and Syria, and so on. Ask the Peruvians and the Colombians if they feel American leadership is protecting them from Venezuela and other radical forces in the region.
And it is true that military cooperation with Israel is good—which is to say, normal not the greatest in history—but what Israeli leader believes that Obama can be relied on? The ones I speak to usually say something like this: “I never thought I’d see the day when we couldn’t depend on America.”
Incidentally, a number of analyses I’ve seen since writing this article emphasize Obama’s nice sentence about Israel as if it is of great importance or some kind of revelation. It is standard–even though he repeated the word “iron-clad”–and denotes absolutely nothing new. I don’t think Obama will do much in regards to bilateral relations but let’s be frank here: Since Obama believes he knows better what Israel security needs are than do its leaders then anything he does is “pro-Israel” even if it is against Israel’s will. I’m not trying to make any dramatic point here–again, bilateral relations will continue to be okay–but to point out the bizarre way Obama’s statements get interpreted in order to praise him.