A.J. DiCintio
Obama plays the alpenhorn?
By A.J. DiCintio
March 2, 2011

As a prelude to his commentary about the administration's response to the uprisings in the Arab world, Christopher Hitchens (Slate) asks, "Is Barack Obama secretly Swiss?."

As anyone who has followed Hitchens since 9/11 will guess, he doesn't in the least intend the sentence as a question but rather a statement indicating his belief that in contrast to "every important statesman and stateswoman in the world," Obama's reaction has been "pathetic, dithering," and at once "both cynical and naive."

By the way, regarding whether the meticulous writer and born polemist slipped up by failing to include "other" after "every" in the line quoted above, the answer has to be, his famous atheism notwithstanding, "Not a chance in hell."

But to return to the topic at hand, "What about the Swiss connection?"

Well, it's self-evident Hitchens likens the president's behavior to that exhibited by the amoral lump of protoplasm called the Swiss banker or the lump's cowardly, expediently "neutral" politician friends who plead with the world to understand that Switzerland is a parenthesis in the realm of power politics.

Now, those comparisons are worthy of careful thought. But just as worthy is this:

After Hitchens observes that in responding to the events in Libya the administration is behaving as if it "were [Qaddafi's] unwilling prisoner" — even to the extent that it was embarrassingly late in chartering a vessel to evacuate staff — he tells us he "can't immediately think of any precedent" for what he deems this "pathetic doctrine."

Obama's behavior is unprecedented? Well, it goes to show writers are subject to the same frailty that afflicts radio and TV pundits who remind us that if you talk all day every day, you'll occasionally make statements you'd like to take back even before they have fully passed your lips.

Here, then, are two compelling precedents for the president's actions, both of which require us to recall that since the sixties, his political brethren have bitterly condemned Americans who, in their opinion, don't sufficiently respect the United Nations, whose Number One purpose, according to its charter, is to take action against "acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace."

First, there is the aggression of August '90, when Iraqi troops invaded and soon completely occupied the small, sovereign nation of Kuwait, a UN member and significant producer of the world's oil supply.

In response, President George HW Bush took the lead in organizing a UN-authorized, 34 nation military response that eschewed both nation and culture "building" to simply (and quickly) set Kuwait free.

However, when Bush sought congressional approval for the war, the overwhelming number of Democrats, including current VP Joe Biden, opposed the resolution, preferring, instead, to "reason" with Saddam Hussein — the UN's principle mission and the threat to the world economy be damned.

The second precedent began about the same time as the Gulf War and had Bosnian leaders pleading with the West to repeal the French-inspired ban on selling arms to any factions within the former Yugoslavia because it prevented the Bosnian people from defending themselves against "ethnic cleansing," institutionalized rape camps, and other depredations carried out by forces loyal to Slobodan Milosevic.

Those leaders begged neither for foreign troops nor nation building but only arms to do their own fighting.

But once again Democrats, including President Bill Clinton, remained unalterably committed to their love affair with the hypocritical tenets of leftist ideology — until late in his tenure when Clinton was shamed into authorizing the bit of bombing necessary to break the will of a filthy gang of murderous thugs.

Which brings us back to Libya and the notion that with respect to "prudence and realpolitik, to say nothing of principle" (Hitchens), there are relatively simple things Obama could, with eyes and common sense mind wide open, say and do.

For example, he could unleash the U.S capacity "to produce great air lifts and sea lifts of humanitarian and medical aid" thereby purchasing "undreamed-of goodwill."

However, it isn't being Swiss that makes Obama's tongue and mind susceptible to being captured by the cat; for the truth is this: With respect to both foreign and domestic affairs, Barack Obama is a perfectly dogmatic modern liberal who vigilantly observes the demands of liberal precedent.

Too bad Hitchens didn't make that point. Not a problem, though, because his closing lines speak of the tragedy that during "crucial and formative days in which revolutions [including profound domestic reformations] are decided," Obama reacts only with "the futile squawkings of a cuckoo clock."

What better image to remind us of the folly that lies in expecting great, brave, innovative actions from a liberal ideologue who has never accomplished anything except to inflate his starry-eyed, true-believing followers into a frenzy with the nothing of vaporous hope and invisible change.

© A.J. DiCintio


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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A.J. DiCintio

A.J. DiCintio posts regularly at RenewAmerica and YourNews.com. He first exercised his polemical skills arguing with friends on the street corners of the working class neighborhood where he grew up. Retired from teaching, he now applies those skills, somewhat honed and polished by experience, to social/political affairs.


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