I had heard much of President Obama’s speech at the U.N. yesterday. I know what annoyed me most about it.

Then I saw the online section of today’s New York Times opinion section. I think they explained my discomfiture very well.

NYT Op-Ed 09252013

Here are a few excerpts from President Obama’s General Assembly speech:

Together, we’ve also worked to end a decade of war. Five years ago, nearly 180,000 Americans were serving in harm’s way, and the war in Iraq was the dominant issue in our relationship with the rest of the world. Today, all of our troops have left Iraq. Next year, an international coalition will end its war in Afghanistan, having achieved its mission of dismantling the core of al Qaeda that attacked us on 9/11. …

We are committed to working this political track. And as we pursue a settlement, let’s remember this is not a zero-sum endeavor. We’re no longer in a Cold War. There’s no Great Game to be won, nor does America have any interest in Syria beyond the wellbeing of its people, the stability of its neighbors, the elimination of chemical weapons, and ensuring that it does not become a safe haven for terrorists. …

Now, to say that these are America’s core interests is not to say that they are our only interests. We deeply believe it is in our interests to see a Middle East and North Africa that is peaceful and prosperous, and will continue to promote democracy and human rights and open markets, because we believe these practices achieve peace and prosperity. But I also believe that we can rarely achieve these objectives through unilateral American action, particularly through military action.

The President praises himself for ending a war by bringing troops home and out of “harm’s way.”

In Syria he asserts that “there’s no Great Game to be won.”

He believes that military action is rarely the way to bring about peace and prosperity. However sometimes it is necessary. Would the United States exist as it does today if not for the Revolutionary War? Would people of his race have been free without the Civil War? Would Nazism have been vanquished without World War II?

Or put into contemporary terms. As was reported last week, Iran believes it can achieve its objectives by unilateral actions in Syria; specifically military actions. President Obama can either let Iran further its influence by doing nothing or he could take action to mobilize allies to oppose Iran and, if necessary, use force. It’s pretty clear from his speech that his opposition to Iran amounts to hoping that Iran will “realize” that Assad’s rule is a bad thing and that he’ll “insist” that Iran “government meet its responsibilities” regarding its nuclear ambitions. If Ayatollah Khamenei is quaking, it’s not in his boots but rather with laughter.

The theme of President Obama at the United Nations is that Losing Is Good for You.


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