Barack Obama’s speech to the United Nations today had some positive aspects. He gave lip service to freedom of the individual and political rights.
But overall, the speech was more of the same, that whatever the United States has done right, was just making up for what we have done wrong. There was precious little in the speech which was positive about the U.S. While not an outright apology, the entire tone of the speech was apologetic.
The United States as the shining city on the hill is dead. The entire thrust of the speech was that we have acted alone, and caused many if not most of the world’s problems:
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.
As to the problems caused by others, only passing notice. This passage was particularly striking in its willful ignorance:
We have also re-engaged the United Nations. We have paid our bills. We have joined the Human Rights Council.
Why did we not pay our bills? Because the UN refused to rout out rampant corruption and financial mismanagement. Why did we leave the Human Rights Council? Because it had turned into a macabre anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, and anti-Western circus, and it still is. But no criticism of that, we now have made amends by rejoining.
There was much more in the speech along these lines. Read it. Hardly a nice word to say about the United States. One of the closing lines was “The United States stands ready to begin a new chapter of international cooperation – one that recognizes the rights and responsibilities of all nations.”
There always was such cooperation, but when the international community failed — as it almost always does — we acted. Is Obama taking unilateral action off the table completely? Is 17 visits to the Security Council on an issue not enough? Will he defend the U.S. even when the world disagrees?
This speech gives me little hope.