Thursday, October 01, 2009

Dreams of a "Fantastical" President (Import)

When President Obama first announced his desire to rid the world of nuclear weapons, I laughed out loud. After all, what’s not to chuckle at?

UN Climate Talks

Would he next offer future generations the gift of flight, like Britain’s Natural Law Party, or promise to abolish death like would-be Russian presidential candidate Grigory Grabovoi, shortly before he was jailed for accepting money to reincarnate a non-existent victim of the Beslan Tragedy?

Of course not, I thought. It’s just the usual political waffle, nothing to waste time thinking about. The president was striking a pose, attempting to sound statesmanlike, that sort of thing. All politicians indulge in this type of empty, grandstanding rhetoric and Obama’s personal weakness for it is well established. Meanwhile he had presented Russia with an opportunity to get rid of a lot of old weapons they didn’t really want any more, without losing face. Perhaps that was the plan: a conciliatory gesture to the Bear in the hope that it would help in other areas. Good luck with that, by the way.

However since then Obama has continued to insist on his dream of a world without nuclear weapons and I am starting to worry that he really means it. Last week at the UN we were all subjected to a bizarre spectacle- and I don’t mean Gaddafi’s highly entertaining stream of consciousness rant but rather the sight of the president of the USA waffling on about disarmament as if he were some kind of vegetable-munching German hippy living on a commune in 1970s Munich. In order to humor him, the Security Council then passed a resolution affirming his audacious- or rather comical- hope. That was easy enough of course – as we all know, the UN passes resolutions all the time which nobody has any intention of following.

Curiously enough neither the resolution nor Mr. Obama made reference to Iran or North Korea, two states obviously intent on increasing the number of nuclear weapons in the world and who have ignored a good deal of Security Council resolutions themselves. Instead Mr. Obama waited until a meeting of the G20 in Pittsburgh a day later before denouncing a ‘suddenly discovered’ Iranian nuclear facility he already knew about, and which President Bush had known about before him. Gordon Brown and Nicholas Sarkozy stood by his side, offering moral support. However reports soon started to surface that Sarkozy had wanted to confront Iran at the UN the day before, and had offered scathing criticism of Mr. Obama’s pipe dream.

Sarkozy thus seems to believe the president is sincere. However I think we should all attempt to understand what this means before we rush to judgment. Last night I considered the possibilities. This is what I came up with:

1) Obama used to be an academic and has spent a lot of time in the company of various washed- up 1960s radicals. Perhaps, having only relatively recently left behind that playground he doesn’t realize how ridiculous he sounds. If so, we can only hope that he learns quickly.

2) All that messianic rhetoric he spouted during the campaign was not just the calculated blather I assumed it was but actually sincere. He really believes, like the late Michael Jackson, that he can heal the world. By contrast, at least Mahmoud Ahmadinejad holds that a supernatural messiah will bring about universal salvation and not himself. But while the president does display numerous signs of narcissism, I still think this is too far fetched.

Then I started to think about option 3, a variation on #2 I admit, but with a patina of rationality that would appeal to a subtle thinker like Mr. Obama. Perhaps he believes that it is impossible to persuade Iran and North Korea to disarm while Israel, the USA and other countries have nuclear weapons. In this he is most likely correct. Perhaps he even accepts that they have a point- at least insofar as they claim it is manifestly unfair to prohibit one country from enjoying the benefits of a healthy atomic arsenal when you have one yourself. And perhaps- now this is a stretch, I admit- he thinks that the two regimes are led by rational and reasonable men who would agree to give up their weapons programs if the rest of the world also disarmed. Then everybody could go home happy.

Now I know that this sounds shockingly naïve but it does explain why he went out of his way to avoid confronting the Iranians at the UN. It also strikes me as the kind of conceit which, dressed up with enough academic think tank hokum, an intellectual of Mr. Obama’s stature could just about believe in. It’s ‘fair’ and ‘reasonable’ after all, and are we not all fair and reasonable men at heart?

Actually, no we’re not. I therefore think it is time we banded together to persuade the president to stop wasting his time and energy. Obviously he won’t listen to anything Fox or Talk Radio has to say, and MSNBC is also a lost cause- that channel produces agitprop strictly for the internal consumption of the Democratic Party faithful. Therefore I would like to suggest to the editors and producers at CNN, ABC, CBS, the New York Times and all those other prestigious news sources that pride themselves on their journalistic integrity that every time Mr. Obama mentions his delusion at a press conference their reporters should openly snigger, and when they write about his speeches later they should preface his words with a phrase such as ‘naïve dream’ or ‘charming fantasy’. Nothing too harsh- we all know he is a sensitive soul. There’s no need to worry about journalistic ethics- this would not be editorializing but a mere statement of fact, like saying the world is round, not flat. And that way, with gentle encouragement from friends, the president might finally set aside childish things and start taking the issue of nuclear proliferation seriously- just as the Iranians and the North Koreans do.