Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Reflection on Obama's Speech as the, "No War Prez"

I wanted to post this article by Bill Kristol (that I saw over at HotAir) entitled “Not a War President.” I think it is a great example of what wasn’t said at the “State of the Union” Obama gave last night. Enjoy, it is insightful for the length.

What can we learn from the few sentences President Obama devoted to foreign policy in his speech to Congress tonight?

The main lesson is how very few the sentences were. Yes, this was a speech focused on the economy. But it was also Obama’s first address to Congress, and his first to the nation since his inauguration. Obama did acknowledge in passing that for seven years we have been “a nation at war.” But that fact was barely reflected in his text. The treatment of foreign policy was perfunctory at best.

Obama did say he’s “carefully reviewing our policies in both wars.” “War” is just one area in which the president conducts and reviews public policy, apparently no more urgent than energy, health care or education--indeed, perhaps less so. You’d never know from the one-sentence discussion of Afghanistan that just last week the president had ordered an additional 17,000 troops there. Obama doesn’t seem to think his responsibility as commander in chief is in any way special. He certainly felt no responsibility even to begin to educate the public about this theater to which he’s committing additional American soldiers.

Instead, both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were treated as sideshows to “a new era of engagement” that Obama claims has begun. The only particular place mentioned by Obama, in addition to Iraq and Afghanistan/Pakistan, was Israel: “To seek progress toward a secure and lasting peace between Israel and her neighbors, we have appointed an envoy to sustain our effort.” The Israeli-Arab dispute and its envoy merits a mention. Yet Iran and its nuclear program does not?

This was not the speech of a man who even contemplates the possibility of using force within the next year to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. This was not the speech of a man who thinks America needs to be reminded about the dangers out there in the world, because Americans might have to be summoned to deal with them. This was not the speech of a man who thinks of himself as a war president.

But he is.