The Plot Against America
GATEMOUTH (7/24/08): In contrast to Dubya's Aggressive Isolationism, [Beinart] argues that “American greatness cannot simply be asserted; it must be proved….That American leadership is not American Empire.” As Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. said…, “The replacement of containment by the Bush Doctrine of preventive war...has screwed everything up with illegitimacy, tactical blunders, and utopian fantasy.”
But this week, we saw that the former allies who now disdain us may be saying “No, No No” to Uncle Sam, but still yearn for our powerful embrace. In the post-September 11 period, we briefly saw Western Europeans displaying American flags as an act of solidarity, rather than one of provocation; something rarely encountered since November of 1963. In the aftermath of the Iraq invasion, I never thought I’d see it again.
Today in Berlin, 200,000 Germans gathered at a rally and waived American flags without an iota of irony. It was Camelot all over again; this time with a "Dark Knight", as they profoundly wished for an end to George Dubya‘s dark night. Their lips might have still have been mouthing “No”, but they looked at Barack Obama and their eyes said “Yes, Yes, Yes”. Or maybe, "Yes We Can"…
…Barack Obama is a Peter Beinart Democrat; someone who can restore American Leadership because he believes in American Honor, someone who understands that the first step in leading any alliance is to listen to your allies if you want to keep them….
…It takes either amnesia or Alzheimer’s to be a Republican today; luckily they have a nominee who displays signs of both…, tut-tutting about Obama speaking in Germany when he’d done the same in Canada, while his minions get all hot and bothered over Obama calling himself a “Citizen of the World”, echoing the shameful Communist-inspired words of that pinko Ronald Reagan.
Meanwhile in Berlin, I could swear I heard a crowd chanting “Ich bein ein Amerikaner”. Will people please calm down?
Criticizing the Nobel Prizes for being "political" is like criticizing the Oscars for being not being about art .
Domestic Partner was in an uproar about Philip Roth being passed over, but losing the Nobel Prize would not make Roth a lesser writer, and winning it does not make the German lady a good one. Domestic Partner, who’s read some of her prose in the original language, was not impressed, and also contends that she wears too much make-up and is a German.
Some have complaints about the other prizes as well.
There is a long history of giving the Nobel Peace Prize for mere statements and symbols without substance--winners in this category include International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (buy Michael Kinsley‘s “Curse of the Giant Muffins“), Dr. Linus Pauling and US Secretary of State Frank Kellogg (for his works on the 1920s treaty outlawing the use of war). Say what you want, it still beats giving it to the likes of Kissinger and Arafat.American conservatives, who, as of late, seemingly rejoice at every international slight suffered by our nation (joyously singing “He had it Coming” in the recent Olympic version of “Chicago“) in a manner which almost surely gives aid and comfort to our enemies, are mostly in an uproar at something one would think would be taken as good news. Less noticed are the howls of outrage from some on the far left (the prize for creativity on this front probably goes to a Facebook friend via high school who took time out from his Israel-bashing to compare giving Obama a'prize to awarding one in Chemistry to I.G. Farben--Rush and Glen would be proud).
The left critics at least have the moral high ground here, as their schadenfreude at American misfortune, and distress at American accomplishment, are at least consistent and not merely the cynical products of the momentary winds of change in electoral politics.
But the fact that the loony right and left agree on something is not conclusive proof that it is wrong, but rather merely evidence of the same. And in this case, they are in some sense correct. Like many of its past recipients, Obama is not deserving of a prize for advancing the cause of peace.
But, I think that the critics are missing the big picture here.
Despite some qualms about some specific policy moves, I'm a big proponent of the Obama approach to foreign policy: talk to everyone, rule out nothing, consult the allies, reach out.
I‘m not happy in every detail, but the method of operation is a dramatic shift, and the Prize if evidence that it is yielding results.
And not just with the fantasy world conjured up by American conservatives who disdain Obama’s approval on the world stage. American conservatives might be horrified by Obama’s prize, but out in the real world, the conservatives’ seeming natural allies like Nicholas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel could barely contain their gushing delight. I’m sure both of them called Obama to express their congratulations, delighted as ever by the novelty of encountering an American President who actually takes their calls.
Instead, American conservatives saw their critiques echoed on the world stage by the likes of Hamas and Al Queda (who to be fair, are their natural allies on social issues). Perhaps they will next start bringing spare shoes to toss out at Obama's public appearances (which, truth be told, would be an improvement over the things some of them have been bringing).
Under the circumstances, outrage seems an inappropriate response to something which more appropriately merits amusement, and perhaps even a champagne toast.
Save the outrage for the prize in literature.
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