Saturday, December 12, 2009

Analysis of the Obama Doctrine

President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in Oslo could easily be the most important and most defining speech in his career. In it, he discloses the full Obama Doctrine. He begins by telling us about the necessity of war and leaves us with his feelings on charity. War for peace and giving what is required. You can watch the speech in its entirety below or read the text.

There are two parts to Obama's speech. The first half is his philosophy of war and the second half is his philosophy for peace.

Interesting how Obama accepts the award and reluctantly places himself in leagues with people such as Martin Luther King. When King delivered his speech, he accepted the prize on behalf of his people, or as he said it "beauty of genuine brotherhood and peace is more precious than diamonds or silver or gold."

You can read the acceptance speeches of Albert Schwitzer, George Marshall, Nelson Mandela or any other laureate on the Nobel website. I look forward to reading the lecture of Paul Krugman.

I am intrigued by Obama's recap of history. He recalls the US involvement in World War II as selfless and heroic. He twice cites the Balkans as evidence to the effectiveness of 'peace through strength' and once refers to Korea. He insists history shows us the spoils of war may include lasting peace while maintaining King's contradicting philosophy, that “violence never brings permanent peace."

We know that North Korea is not a democracy and we know that the Balkans are run by the mafia. Funny how his success stories are not success stories at all. And interesting, how Obama chooses not to talk about how FDR's Machiavellian tactics brought democracy came to Japan. But of World War II, Obama speaks mostly about the European front, in which US involvement is a mere footnote by other accounts.

(citation, i admit, is missing here)

Obama makes it clear that Gandhi and King, in all their greatness, could not stop Hitler's armies or bring peace to Europe. He neglects to tell us that all of Kennedy's armies could not put an end to the Cold War, either.

Obama concludes his justification of war by identifying the war tactics of The United States as the ideal by which all just wars are modeled. When he says "I believe that the United States of America must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war," he is indirectly condoning and aligning himself with the acts of war committed by George W Bush in Afghanistan and Iraq. Gone are all campaign promises of change.

In a transitional paragraph, Obama makes an interesting reference to Guantanamo Bay. He says he is against torture and that is why he ordered the closure of the prison. Funny, how there is no real deadline for the closure. Sometime next year, he says.

Obama says there are three ways that we can build a just and lasting peace.

The first is through imposing tariffs on trade and other economic restrictions. Obama says "sanctions must exact a real price."

The second is through recognition of man's natural rights as outlined in the American constitution and echoed in Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Obama said "I believe that peace is unstable where citizens are denied the right to speak freely or worship as they please; choose their own leaders or assemble without fear."

The third is through economic security and opportunity. Obama gives us the nut of the Obama Doctrine when he says, "for true peace is not just freedom from fear, but freedom from want."

The third path to peace is most interesting because it directly reflects his policy on domestic issues of education and nationalized health care.

My questions for Obama are:

Do trade tariffs truly prevent war or maintain peace? Is it possible to maintain conversation while a country is in alienation from the developed world? I would like to research and discuss how open trade aided in the cultural evolution of India, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Is it possible to force a country to respect the natural rights of its citizens without violating the natural rights of that country's leaders? I would like to research and discuss the legitimacy of the Vietnam War, Operation Iraqi Freedom and The War of Northern Aggression.

And finally, whose responsibility is it to restore hope to the hopeless? In what way is duty different from charity? Is it morally justified to force man to do good?

Interesting, how Obama talks about war. He refers to it as someone might talk about the weather. Americans do not seek this war. It is miserable like the rain and from it, we are inclined to seek protection. But keep faith, Obama says. Keep faith in humanity's tenacity to rebuild. We must maintain our faith in human progress, he says, and he never takes ownership of his war.

Edit: Thanks Fjahma for reminding me, Obama is now in ranks with great people such as Henry Kissinger and Yasser Arafat.

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