Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Obama’s State of the Union Speech: My Response Discovers Some Curious Insights and Strange Formulations

Note: Don't miss my analysis of Obama's single sentence on Israel.

By Barry Rubin

In his State of the Union message, President Barack Obama began by wrapping himself in the flag, patriotism, and love of the armed forces while trying to highlight his foreign policy achievements. Among his points:

--“The United States [is] safer and more respected around the world.”

Presumably, a lot of Americans will believe this. The United States may be said to be safer in terms of facing direct terror attacks but that was basically true in 2002. As for “more repected”—a phrase no doubt chosen to seem more statesmanlike than saying “more popular,” that is a joke. If there’s one thing that should be obvious (and this is often revealed even by international public opinion polls) the United States is not more respected at all.

Moreover, while individual Americans may be relatively safe from terrorist attacks in their homes, neighborhoods and workplaces within the territory of the United States—a perception partly reinforced by redefining terrorist attacks as something else—U.S. interests abroad are far less safe.

“For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq.”

True, though the remaining forces may have to fight to defend themselves. This withdrawal, of course, was planned by Obama’s predecessor and Iraq is not doing so well today.

“For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country. Most of al Qaeda’s top lieutenants have been defeated.”

Aside from the lack of grammar here—was Obama trying to avoid saying that these people were killed?—the statement is true. The problem is that Hamas, Hizballah, the Turkish regime, Iran, Syria, and the Muslim Brotherhood add up to a far bigger threat, a problem magnified by Obama refusing to acknowledge they are a threat.

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