Thursday, 27 March 2014

Mr. Obama's speech at Brussels yesterday

I am very heartened and disheartened by what Mr. Obama said. I suppose he was right to say it.

What Mr. Bush did in Iraq and Mr. Cameron did in Libya was far, far worse than what Mr. Putin has done, but what the West did was internationalist, Mr. Obama is saying, as if this makes it alright. 

I am sure no Russian will be persuaded by this passage, which is true as far as it goes -  think what it leaves out:  

“Russia has pointed to America’s decision to go into Iraq as an example of Western hypocrisy. Now, it is true that the Iraq war was a subject of vigorous debate, not just around the world but in the United States, as well. I participated in that debate, and I opposed our military intervention there. “But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system. We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory. We did not grab its resources for our own gain. Instead, we ended our war and left Iraq to its people in a fully sovereign Iraqi state that can make decisions about its own future.Do not think for a moment that your own freedom, your own prosperity, that your own moral imagination is bound by the limits of your community, your ethnicity or even your country. You’re bigger than that. You can help us to choose a better history. That’s what Europe tells us. That’s what the American experience is all about.”

I will need to think what to think about this post-national version of American exceptionalism:

 “I say this as the president of a country that looked to Europe for the values that are written into our founding documents and which spilled blood to ensure that those values could endure on these shores. I also say this as the son of a Kenyan whose grandfather was a cook for the British, and as a person who once lived in Indonesia as it emerged from colonialism. “The ideals that unite us matter equally to the young people of Boston or Brussels or Jakarta or Nairobi or Krakow or Kiev.”

(The misspelling of Cracow is not Mr Obama’s mistake. I am sure he does not know which country Cracow is in.)

Mr. Obama probably believes that American and Western European twenty year-olds think like he does and perhaps he is right. Perhaps it is better so but Russians do not think like this and nor do Romanians nor most people in the world.

Can someone explain to me what the West should do? Keep out of the Middle East certainly, but we are talking about Ukraine. I suppose speak loudly and leave the big stick at home?

1 comment:

  1. Kraków also Cracow, or Krakow. It is not misspelling. I understand that some of the world cities have their specific name in other languages (Prague for Praha, or Londýn for London - the other way round).

    It is ok to use "C" in English language if we want English people to pronounce "K". This is not such an abomination as English pronounciation of Latin:

    I couldn’t stop laughing when I heard Englishman to say "prinkipia" in Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica of Sir Isaac Newton.

    It is even more absurd considering that English still has and uses similar word derived from the same source: principal (not prinkipal).

    Or how would you like a "Prink of Wales" :-) ?