O Channels W


by Ralph Peters [author, novelist]

Which president spoke the following words?

“Where you have na tions that are oppressing their people, isn’t there an international responsibility to intervene? I think the need for intervention becomes a moral imperative. . .

“There are going to be objections to just about any decision, because there are some in the international community who believe that state sovereignty is sacrosanct. . .

“But we also say we’re not going to just wait indefinitely and allow for the development of a nuclear weapon, the breach of international treaties, and wake up one day and find ourselves in a much worse position and unable to act.”

No, that wasn’t George W. Bush justifying regime-change in Iraq. It was Barack Obama, speaking at a press conference in Italy last Friday. But his language and logic sounded as if he were channeling Bush.

Our president cited the British prime minister’s anecdote about a boy who dreamed of becoming a doctor, only to be massacred. The tale was set in Rwanda. But it could have been the story of a Kurdish child gassed by Saddam Hussein.

It would have shown a flash of integrity had the media noted Obama’s sudden adherence to the Bush Doctrine. But this isn’t just about Gotcha! Two big things appear to be in play.

First, Obama’s been getting a taste of strategic reality served up by just about every thug on the planet. (And the prez can’t have been happy with the lecture he got last week from Russian strongman Vladimir Putin — the O-Man prefers to do the lecturing himself.)

The second thing is that political hypocrisy governs our domestic criticism of war. Had Bill Clinton deposed Saddam Hussein — who Clinton believed held weapons of mass destruction — our left would have celebrated him as the greatest liberator since Lincoln.

The problem was never what we did in Iraq, but who did it. The crocodile tears for our troops were all about tearing down Bush.

Where are the cries of “Support our troops, bring them home!” now that Obama’s president? We still have almost 200,000 service members in war zones, folks. The soldiers and Marines are just as dead — yet somehow Bush’s surge was bad, while Obama’s surge is good.

But what to make of the president’s new rhetoric? Is Obama coming to his senses? If so, it will still involve a nasty learning curve. He’s been making foreign-policy and security mistakes faster than any president in history.

Yet there’s hope. Obama’s latest adore-me tour began badly, but ended on a powerful positive note. Following the debacle in Moscow and disappointment in Italy (where the G8 proved resistant to charisma), the president made a wise, useful and praiseworthy stop in Ghana.

He was in his element. His speech to the continent (Obama doesn’t speak to mere countries) was the finest I’ve heard on the subject from an American president. The charisma did work in Accra, and Obama used it to send a tough-love message that Africans needed to hear from our first black president.

He spoke, eloquently, of the need for Africans to take responsibility for their own future and to fight corruption, arguing that Africa needs strong institutions, not strongmen. He even had the audacity to insist that, while colonialism did its damage, it can’t be blamed for the disaster in Zimbabwe and other self-wrought failures.

It was a great speech (he should give a variant of it to several of our own domestic constituencies). I could not have been prouder of our president.

But Obama was channeling Bush in Africa, too.

W never got remotely as much credit as he deserves for taking Africa seriously, for pushing through effective development programs that helped AIDS sufferers, small entrepreneurs and democracy advocates.

Bush established a solid foundation on which Obama can build, making up for our long neglect of a continent of still-untapped potential. There’s more to Africa than headline disasters. This may be the foreign-policy sphere in which Obama can do historic good.

And (go ahead and burn me at the stake) there’s more to be gained in Africa than in Afghanistan.

The question now is which Obama we’ll get as his administration matures. Will it be the eternal undergraduate convinced that America is wicked, or an emerging realist who recognizes that it doesn’t matter if a mass-murderer’s rhetoric is of the right or left?

Can the eternal campaigner become a man of conscience? ExileStreet

NY Post / copyright 2009 NY Post

Ralph Peters is Fox News’ strategic analyst. His latest book is “Looking For Trouble: Adventures in a Broken World.”

Peters is a retired Army officer and the author of 19 books, as well as of hundreds of essays and articles, written both under his own name and as Owen Parry. He is a frequent columnist for the New York Post and other publications.

Leave a Reply