May 29, 2011

HIS HEART MAY NOT BE IN IT, BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY HE'S AMERICAN:

Is President Obama all talk and no action?: The US President has produced little of substance to underpin his high-flown rhetoric about being willing to stand up for freedom (Janet Daley 9:00PM BST 28 May 2011, The Telegraph)

So the question is: when the similarities are added up and the differences subtracted, what is the sum that remains? Is this really a revival of liberal interventionism, or a retreat from it that is being obscured by a lot of high-flown rhetoric?

The commitment to upholding the values of liberty and democratic freedoms as universal human rights was reiterated again and again in terms as unequivocal as any that the previous holders of their offices could have wished. No patronising cynicism about certain races and certain regions of the globe being insufficiently rational to cope with the modern idea of a free and liberal society. (George Bush and Tony Blair were the ghosts at the barbecue, you might say.)

Certainly, the moral obligation to spread the doctrine of democratic government and to support the efforts of any people who seek to liberate themselves from tyranny sounded uncannily like a revival of the Bush doctrine. It would be easy to conclude, as Amity Shlaes puts it in the current issue of Standpoint magazine, “…the reality is that we are all neo-cons now”.

But in fact there was nothing in Mr Obama’s comment that “the longing for freedom and human dignity is not English or American or Western – it is universal” that was the least bit contentious in American terms: the principle that all men are created equal and are born with a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is written into the nation’s sacred founding documents.


Never underestimate the power of the rhetoric.


Posted by at May 29, 2011 7:34 AM
  

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