Things are pretty tense at the United Nations, as the Palestinians push for a U.N. vote on statehood that would do a remarkable amount of damage to international relations. Obama has said he would use America’s Security Council veto to scuttle the move.
The President addressed the U.N. General Assembly today, delivering a very long speech that former U.S. Ambassador John Bolton characterized as three speeches in one: a reassurance to American audiences that the world is doing okay, so he can focus on domestic issues now; an attempt to take both sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict with “a classic demonstration of moral equivalence”; and a “grab bag” Obama 2012 campaign speech, including – of course – a plug for his “pass this bill” stimulus package:
Today, we confront the challenges that have followed that crisis. Recovery is fragile. Markets are volatile. Too many people are out of work. Too many others are struggling to get by. We acted together to avert a Depression in 2009. We must take urgent and coordinated action once more. Here in the United States, I have announced a plan to put Americans back to work and jumpstart our economy, and committed to substantially reduce our deficit over time.
(Emphasis mine.) “To combat the poverty that punishes our children, we must act on the belief that freedom from want is a basic human right,” said the man who is supposedly a Constitutional scholar. Which part of the Constitution enumerated the “freedom from want,” again? Did it come with a precise list of all the other Constitutional freedoms that must be swept aside, in order for wise and benevolent politicians to pursue the “freedom from want?” Such a “freedom” must, by definition, be imposed through compulsive force, because someone must be compelled to satisfy your unconditional human right to have those wants fulfilled. You don’t have to “work” to “earn” your other human rights, do you?
This part of the U.N. speech is especially rich, coming from the President whose thirst for economic liberty has left the United States ranked in tenth place for economic liberty – behind Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Chile, Britain, and Mauritius:
To bring prosperity to our people, we must promote the growth that creates opportunity. In this effort, let us not forget that we have made enormous progress over the last several decades. Closed societies gave way to open markets. Innovation and entrepreneurship has transformed the way we live and the things that we can do. Emerging economies from Asia to the Americas have lifted hundreds of millions from poverty.
With a bit more of Obama’s “enormous progress,” maybe we can achieve the economic freedom of Mauritius by next year. Liberty is what you have left over, after you’ve been compelled to satisfy other people’s basic human right to be free from want.
There was a lot of boilerplate packed into the speech, but the phrase that will come to define this address – to the extent anyone remembers it next week, or tomorrow – was “Peace is hard.” What an utterly banal talking point! As if the world has been waiting for a magnificent sage like Obama to come along and tell it how difficult peace is. He could have saved us all an hour by just handing out “COEXIST” bumper stickers and calling it a day.
We’ve already had great geopolitical thinkers like George Clooney explain this concept, complete with tinkling kiddie pianos to make us replace our mental image of violent terrorists with the hordes of lovable childlike innocents we somehow never hear from:
More disturbing than the baby talk is the sense that Obama does not have a clue why peace is hard. He clings desperately to the blind moral equivalency of viewing violent conflict as a product of simple misunderstanding, which is something a sensitive guy with a knack for reading long, hollow speeches from teleprompters might be able to fix… or at least take credit for fixing:
One year ago, I stood at this podium and called for an independent Palestine. I believed then – and I believe now – that the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own. But what I also said is that genuine peace can only be realized between Israelis and Palestinians themselves. One year later, despite extensive efforts by America and others, the parties have not bridged their differences. Faced with this stalemate, I put forward a new basis for negotiations in May. That basis is clear, and well known to all of us here. Israelis must know that any agreement provides assurances for their security. Palestinians deserve to know the territorial basis of their state.
I know that many are frustrated by the lack of progress. So am I. But the question isn’t the goal we seek – the question is how to reach it. And I am convinced that there is no short cut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades. Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the UN – if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now. Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians who must live side by side. Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians – not us – who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them: on borders and security; on refugees and Jerusalem.
The whole problem with the world is, obviously, that it’s not paying enough attention to what Barack Obama says. I guess it’s easier to swallow this bilge if you forget about the suicide bombings and showers of rockets falling on civilian populations, a level of delicate ignorance that comes easier for Obama than for actual residents of Israel.
At least the media has politely refused to show us the images of Palestinians dancing in the streets and handing out candy after 9/11, so it’s not too difficult to forget about that. You also didn’t see a lot of video of the candy and dancing that erupted among Palestinians after the Fogel family, including small children, was butchered with knives in Itamar.
But why dwell on such unpleasantness? Obama assures us that “the deadlock will only be broken when each side learns to stand in the other’s shoes.” Does that mean Israelis should murder a Palestinian family, then dance and hand out candy, to really understand the Palestinian experience?
This airheaded moral equivalence is a victory for terrorism, a capitulation to barbarism. There is no price to pay for a culture of murder and death before the world stage – we’ll just wipe that record clean and make sure the barbarians have a nice, warm seat at the negotiating table. We’ll make sure history is carefully edited so we can pretend the Palestinians and Israelis are just a couple of cranky kids that would be best pals, if they only understood each other better. We won’t dwell on all the offers Palestinians have cast aside, in order to continue the intifada and get what they really want.
The measure of our actions must always be whether they advance the right of Israeli and Palestinian children to live in peace and security, with dignity and opportunity. We will only succeed in that effort if we can encourage the parties to sit down together, to listen to each other, and to understand each other’s hopes and fears. That is the project to which America is committed. And that is what the United Nations should be focused on in the weeks and months to come.
Well, that explains why top PLO officials are talking about clearing all the pesky Jews out of their new U.N.-issued state. They’re just looking to understand Jewish hopes and fears. Note to Obama and other liberals: describing these matters in explicitly childish terms, like “the right of Israeli and Palestinian children to live in peace and security,” never has much impact on people who deliberately target children.
The assertion that violence, including unlawful Geneva Convention-shredding terrorism, is all a big misunderstanding lifts the burden of moral responsibility from barbarians. They’re not evil, just misguided. Hatred is a product of ignorance, and they’d give it up in a heartbeat, if they really understood what they were doing.
This is music to the ears of Hamas and PLO leadership, which relies upon hiding behind their populations for survival. If the world sees the populace as a herd of confused sheep whose innocence shields them from responsibility for the deeds perpetrated in their name, so much the better.
It’s also lazy preaching to the choir, a scolding that only carries weight with people who already believe compassion is a paramount virtue. Talking seriously to the people who shoot anti-tank missiles at school buses is much harder than telling liberalized Westerners and Israelis that they can will peace into existence by caring hard enough.
“Peace depends on compromise among peoples who must live together long after our speeches are over,” Obama declared. We should be able to put that theory to the test soon enough, because the Palestinians will almost certainly win their vote for U.N-imposed statehood in the coming week. Then we can see if a great movement of Palestinian citizens rises up in response to say, “Thank you, but no. There are no short cuts to peace, and it certainly won’t come through U.N. resolutions.”
Meanwhile, now that Obama’s gone, the adults can get back to hashing out the details of geo-political conflicts. Some of those adults are very bad people.