President of the World
I’m having lunch with an Obama supporter at La Coupole, the venerable brasserie in Paris’s Montparnasse neighborhood. The woman who asked me that question, along with her fiance, has come to discuss something else, but the talk inevitably comes round to the U.S. presidential race. And the question here, as all across Europe, is:
What reason could there possibly be for Barack Obama not to be the next president of the United States?
Put another way, why would anyone vote for John McCain?
There are any number of reasons I could mention, but since we had just gotten word in the last few hours of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Boumediene case, in which the narrowest possible majority, 5-4, voted that prisoners in Guantanamo Bay can go to federal court to challenge the U.S. government’s right to detain them, I bring up the issue of judges.
A decision like Boumediene is bad enough from the current Court, I say. If Obama were elected, it would certainly get worse.
My lunch companion doesn’t agree. In the European mind, Guantanamo is one of the centers of evil in the world, a dungeon where George W. Bush commits unspeakable acts on innocent Muslims who just happened to be on a battlefield in Afghanistan or Pakistan when U.S. troops captured them.
She says the prisoners in Gitmo have been denied their constitutional rights.
I say they are enemy combatants; they have rights under international treaties, but not American constitutional rights.
But they have “global rights,” she insists.
What are “global rights”? I ask....(read the rest here)
It’s America, Obama
Victor Davis Hanson
What disturbed me about Barack Obama's Berlin speech were some reoccurring utopian assumptions about cause and effect — namely, that bad things happen almost as if by accident, and are to be addressed by faceless, universal forces of good will.
Unlike Obama, I would not speak to anyone as “a fellow citizen of the world,” but only as an ordinary American who wishes to do his best for the world, but with a much-appreciated American identity, and rather less with a commonality indistinguishable from those poor souls trapped in the Sudan, North Korea, Cuba, or Iran. Take away all particular national identity and we are empty shells mouthing mere platitudes, who believe in little and commit to even less. In this regard, postmodern, post-national Europe is not quite the ideal, but a warning of how good intentions can run amuck. Ask the dead of Srebrenica, or the ostracized Danish cartoonists, or the archbishop of Canterbury with his supposed concern for transcendent universal human rights.
With all due respect, I also don't believe the world did anything to save Berlin, just as it did nothing to save the Rwandans or the Iraqis under Saddam — or will do anything for those of Darfur; it was only the U.S. Air Force that risked war to feed the helpless of Berlin as it saved the Muslims of the Balkans. And I don't think we have much to do in America with creating a world in which “famine spreads and terrible storms devastate our lands.” Bad, often evil, autocratic governments abroad cause hunger, often despite rich natural landscapes; and nature, in tragic fashion, not “the carbon we send into atmosphere,” causes “terrible storms,” just as it has and will for millennia.
Perhaps conflict-resolution theory posits there are no villains, only misunderstandings; but I think military history suggests that culpability exists — and is not merely hopelessly relative or just in the eye of the beholder. So despite Obama’s soaring moral rhetoric, I am troubled by his historical revisionism that, “The two superpowers that faced each other across the wall of this city came too close too often to destroying all we have built and all that we love.”
I would beg to differ again, and suggest instead that a mass-murdering Soviet tyranny came close to destroying the European continent (as it had, in fact, wiped out millions of its own people) and much beyond as well — and was checked only by an often lone and caricatured US superpower and its nuclear deterrence. When the Soviet Union collapsed, there was no danger to the world from American nuclear weapons “destroying all we have built” — while the inverse would not have been true, had nuclear and totalitarian communism prevailed. We sleep too lightly tonight not because democratic Israel has obtained nuclear weapons, but because a frightening Iran just might.
When Obama shouts,Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law? Will we welcome immigrants from different lands, and shun discrimination against those who don't look like us or worship like we do, and keep the promise of equality and opportunity for all of our people?it is the world, not the U.S., that needs to listen most. In this regard I would have preferred Sen. Obama of mixed ancestry to have begun with “In the recent tradition of African-American Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice,” rather than the less factual, “I don't look like the Americans who've previously spoken in this great city.” (read the rest here)
Sunday, July 27, 2008
There are two remarkable editorials I wanted to share with you. I honestly couldn't decide which one was more important, so I'm going with both. I hope you read each of them in their entirety because they express in words much of what I feel as well.