Monday, July 12, 2010

OBAMANDIAS? Former Supporters Assail the President's Foreign Policy

Who do think recently wrote the following about President Barack Obama?

There are figures in history who wish to leave behind what Malraux called a "scar on the map," but it was Barack Obama's desire to leave behind a new map, and one without scars. His promise of global transformation was outrageously genuine, underwritten by an invincible belief in his own unprecendentedness and in his own magic; and it now looks like a personal delusion. He really did think that the world would change when he summoned it to change, as if its dangerous and miserable state was the result merely of misunderstandings and the failure of an adequately illuminated leader to manisfest himself.

The Obama turn in American foreign policy is looking more and more like what [Saul] Bellow used to call the Good Intensions Paving Company.

An Iranian friend recently told me about a letter he received from Tehran complaining that the most damaging American intervention in Iran since the [1953] overthrow of [Prime Minister Mohammad] Massadegh was Obama's non-intervention against Ahmadinejad's brutal repression.

And who recently wrote the following about President Obama?

But it shall now be part of the narrative of liberty that when Persia rose in the summer of 2009, the steward of American power ducked for cover, and that a president who prided himself on his eloquence couldn't even find the words to tell the forces of liberty that he understood the wellsprings of their revolt.

President Obama's failure to find the right words is not a failure of eloquence. It is a failure of truth and a deliberate aversioin to the truths of history.

Who is launching these vicious verbal attacks on the President? Ann Coulter, perhaps, or Bill Kristol, or some Fox Network pundit?

No, the first set of quotes is from Leon Wieseltier and the second from Martin Peretz, respectively the Literary Editor and the Editor-in-Chief of The New Republic, and appeared in the July 8 edition of that liberal publication, which endorsed President Obama in the 2008 election and still heartily supports his domestic policy initiatives. (Indeed, the magazine has developed a sort of editorial schizophrenia regarding the President.)

I think that the sharp-penned Wieseltier has best captured the ego-driven nature of the President's personal diplomacy, which has proven so inadequate to face the challenges posed by the developing anti-American alignment of Putin (Russia), Ahmadinejad (Iran), Erdogan (Turkey), Lula (Brazil) and Chavez (Venezuela). Wieseltier scathingly writes, "We exchanged an experiment in personal greatness conservatism for an experiment in personal greatness liberalism. And in the spring of 2010, Obama got his global reformation, his new map."

To me it brings to mind Percy Shelley's poem Ozymandias:

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away".

Our Obamandias, King of Kings, and indeed the leader of the most powerful nation on earth, also had the frown and the sneer of cold command. However, the mighty of other nations, our country's rivals, have not looked on his works and despaired. Hopefully though, come November 2012, we will not find that "nothing beside remains round the decay of that colossal wreck."


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