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"Mr. Ortega, tear down my country"

We have gone from a President of the United States who, in 1983, called the Soviet Union an evil empire to a President who, in 2009, sat quietly by as a former Soviet-backed dictator called the United States an evil empire. And by apologizing on behalf of his nation for offenses perceived (regardless of whether these claims of offense were justified) by peoples that have given the world the "gifts" of Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Wahibism, the Sandinhistas, the gulag, beheading of apostates, the concentration camp, the suicide bomber etc., etc., this current President has passively agreed for several weeks with the dictator’s assessment of his own nation’s wickedness. And he only broke his silent acquiesence in order to announce to the world that he was relieved that he was not personally accused of any wrongdoing. Thus, we’ve gone from “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” to “I’m grateful that President Ortega did not blame me for things that happened when I was three months old.” President Obama, apparently, is not just “the One,” he is the only one.


Comments (31)

Yesterday, Obama said:

"The whole notion was that if we showed courtesy or opened up dialogue with governments that had previously been hostile to us, that that somehow would be a sign of weakness," Obama said, recalling his race for the White House and challenging his critics today.
"The American people didn't buy it," Obama said. "And there's a good reason the American people didn't buy it — because it doesn't make sense."

At the same time, he had American representatives to the UN boycott Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech in Switzerland.

Does dialogue always have merit Mr. President? Could you please make sense of your words versus your actions?

Thank God somebody had the wherewithal to bring attention to this!

I thought an event as dispicably unacceptable (dare I say even, at the cost of being cast a heretic by the new Obaman religion, 'Un-American') as that would have gone wholly unnoticed and merely accepted (even by denizens of this very blog as well as their gracious hosts) as just one of those things all Americans must submit to as simply a gracious gesture of divine goodness on the part of The Chosen One.

Surprising that he did not go so far as to actually kiss the dictator's own blessed feet (although one can say that he managed to successfully kissed the man's posterior) in humble propitiation for all of America's supposed offenses!

That quote from Obama ("I'm grateful that...") may just be the single most despicable sentence I've ever heard from the mouth a sitting US President.

One can imagine Ronald Reagan making the same "grateful remark," only he would have been rolling his eyes and sarcasm would be dripping from the stage and coating the first 5 rows of the audience while he said it.

This song [lyrics] seems eerily prescient in the age of Obama, since it was written back in the 1980s.

Let's see...the transcript says, "I'm grateful that President Ortega did not blame me for things that happened when I was three months old. (Laughter.)" I think that means it was a joke. Get over it.

Daniel Larison gets it right (addressing Obama's conduct toward Chavez and Ortega): "The main problem I have with the handshake with Chavez, to the extent that I have any problem at all with it, is that it might be seen as raising the profile of a weak and strategically unimportant head of state. In reality, the handshake doesn’t matter because Venezuela doesn’t matter all that much one way or the other, and it needs us to buy its oil exports a lot more than we need them to supply it, but there is potentially a problem in engaging Chavez because it reinforces the impression that Chavez is important and needs to be engaged for the sake of broader U.S. goals in the region. The problem is not that Chavez is some regional menace who threatens real American interests, but that he is and ought to be almost entirely irrelevant to how we shape Latin America policy, but for some reason he has become a central figure in Washington’s approach to the entire continent. I am hopeful that this is why Obama laughs off the meeting with Chavez and ignores the hectoring of Daniel Ortega: because neither of these leaders matters very much at all. If in the process America’s reputation and our relations with the rest of Latin America are thereby improved, so much the better."

This is just a continuation of last week's conferences in Mexico: CNN reported last Friday: "[Obama] refused to criticize the leaders of Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela, who have taken measures to change their constitutions to extend their holds on power.'I think it's important for the United States not to tell other countries how to structure their democratic practices and what should be contained in their constitutions,' he said. 'It's up to the people of those countries to make a decision about how they want to structure their affairs.'" at http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/04/16/obama.latin.america/index.html

Its an outrage, and apparent that our President has no principles except only for that which glorifies him. Venezuela's status as a "weak and strategically unimportant" nation does not make it any less dangerous. No doubt that on 1 August 1990 most people thought Iraq was "weak and strategically unimportant." On 10 Sept 2001 Afghanistan probably considered was "weak and strategically unimportant." I'm not saying we've got another 9/11 on our hands, but lets not downplay the dangers of this Presidential Passivism.

Moreover, we shd. indeed criticize what deserves criticism. Obama's international terminal nonjudgmentalism is, and should be, nauseating. There is a certain type of (ahem) doctrinaire isolationist who not only demands that we not interfere militarily with other countries but also demands that we act like all countries are equally good. Such a person would have had us establishing normal, even friendly, diplomatic and trade relations with Hitlerite Germany and showing their dignitaries the same deference and overtures of friendship Obama is showing to Chavez, refusing to "judge" their handling of "internal matters." Such an isolationist considers the only alternative to this sort of foreign policy to be evil warmongering. Thus does isolationism morph with frightening rapidity into cultural relativism. And we should have none of that.

"Daniel Larison gets it right"...

Well, perhaps so, if you buy into his usual take on everything:

U.S. always wrong.

Israel alway wrong, wrong, wrong.

U.S. wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, anytime it fails to criticize Israel strongly enough.

Russia always...well...defensible.

I mean, they're Orthodox - right?

Chavez, Ahmadinejad, et al - perfectly harmless. Nothing to worry about here. Please move along.

By the way - I do hope that everybody here does his very best to keep up with the staggeringly prolific output of our erstwhile colleague, Daniel Larison, over at the site known, for reasons that increasingly escape me, as The American Conservative.


The folks at the American Conservative think that a war is not just unless it's religious. :-)



Why do you want people to keep up with Larison's output, given what you seem to think of the quality of that output? Is this a "keep your enemies close" thing?

With all due respect, Mr. Beckwith, I think the interpretation of events here is skewed and uncharitable. I'm no big fan of President Obama, and I could think of many things I would have liked him to have said in response to Hugo Chavez that he didn't come close to saying. But some of your sources--and by implication, youself--are making some pretty outrageous leaps of interpretation. For instance, nowhere did President Obama apologize for anything, in the common sense of saying "I'm sorry." What he did do was admit to a particular set of errors (which certainly can be debated) of "disengagement" and "dictating terms." On this latter point, it is especially absurd to say that Obama declared the US to be "dictatorial." Etymology notwithstanding, the two are not the same. A dictator does more than dictate terms. Note also that these criticisms follow a declaration that the US "has done much to promote peace and prosperity in the hemisphere."

I do agree that Mr. Obama places too much emphasis on himself as a "new man" instead of as the holder of an office with a certain degree of unavoidable continuity with the past. In this sense, I think he does not apologize enough, in both senses of the word "apology": Someone who is so quick to break from the past can neither explain his country's virtuous actions nor make true reparation for its errors.

When I think of public apologies, I always think of Pope John Paul II, who apologized for everything from the Crusades to injustices against women to the punishment of Galileo. This rubs many faithful Catholics the wrong way, and it used to trouble me, too. These apologies seemed to add justification to the irrational, untrtuhful complaints of the enemies of the Church. But more recently I have come to realize that JPII knew exactly what he was doing. For in all of these cases and more, there are always acts that the Church could apologize for, even if they're not what others think they are. And if we need forgiveness for something, we should always seek it. If an apology is specific and is sincere--if it acts in service of both truth and charity--then it is good, public relations be damned. JPII merely illustrated that seeking holiness and reconciliation can lead you into the lion's den, but that does not change our calling to both.

a former Soviet-backed dictator called the United States an evil empire.

Yeah, but it's our evil empire. Is that your point?

It's no fun getting the news from scoundrels, but that doesn't alter its truthfulness.

Kudos to Steve Burton for his lucid summary. I would say that the last line of that summary (re. the alleged harmlessness of various international low-lifes) is particularly applicable here.

Chris, it seems to me that when a country's leader says that his country acted in ways that it ought not to have acted, he is in fact apologizing (perhaps passive aggressively, but apologizing nonetheless). After all, if you asked President Obama the question, "Do you think that President Bush should be sorry for what his administration did?," the only correct answer for Obama is "yes." If not, then what was the point of saying that the Bush administration did things they ought not to have done? "Apologize' is an appropriate verb in describing President Obama's statements.

But, more importantly, I dispute the accuracy of President Obama's claims. Thus, it's not that there is anything wrong in principle with apologizing, but rather, there is something wrong in apologizing for that which one ought not to apologize.

As for John Paul the Great, he was a holy man who helped Reagan and Thatcher defeat the Soviets, the folks that were funneling money to Ortega, Castro, and the Weathermen. You do the math.

Dr. Beckwith,

Chris, it seems to me that when one a country's leader says that his country acted in ways that it ought not to have acted, he is in fact apologizing (perhaps passive aggressively, but apologizing nonetheless).

Are you really surprised?

That man is wont to crucify those very individuals that, in all actuality, may very well have prevented subsequent attacks on American soil and, indeed, saved certain (and even hundreds) American lives all out of some seemingly sycophantic urge to appease The Left!


President Obama on Monday paid his first formal visit to CIA headquarters, in order, as he put it, to "underscore the importance" of the agency and let its staff "know that you've got my full support." Assuming he means it, the President should immediately declassify all memos concerning what intelligence was gleaned, and what plots foiled, by the interrogations of high-level al Qaeda detainees in the wake of September 11.

This suggestion was first made by former Vice President Dick Cheney, who said he found it "a little bit disturbing" that the Obama Administration had decided to release four Justice Department memos detailing the CIA's interrogation practices while not giving the full picture of what the interrogations yielded in actionable intelligence. Yes, it really is disturbing, especially given the bogus media narrative that has now developed around those memos.

SOURCE: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124035706108641065.html

So Cheney's a consequnetialist, we already knew that.

Bobcat - I think that people should read Larison just because he's a consistently *interesting* thinker & writer. He's relentlessly contrarian in unexpected ways. Kind of like Mencius Moldbug.

That said, I do think that he's falling into some depressingly predictable patterns, lately.

But Americans probably *are*, on the whole, too thoughtlessly pro-Israeli & anti-Russian - so maybe he provides a useful corrective.

Where he really falls short is in describing his preferred vision for the future. I've been reading (well, mostly skimming) his stuff for years, now - and I still have no clear idea of what he's really after.

Some sort of neo-feudalist theocracy?

Who knows?

c matt:

So Cheney's a consequnetialist, we already knew that.

I take it you deem it only fitting that those who essentially saved the lives of practically hundreds of innocent Americans (which very well include even you and your loved ones) by their actions deserve to be crucified or even burned at the stake?

Incredible that folks these days seem to think that it is much better that we and those whom we love should suffer harm (even death) rather than the terrorists!

aristocles: get used to it.

Fair enough, Dr. Beckwith. But given how Obama characterized the errors of the past (which I imagine he considers as occurring long prior to George W. Bush's years in office), we can paraphrase him only as saying, "Yes, I believe past presidents should be sorry for a policy of disengagement and for dictating the terms of our partnerships in the hemisphere." Which is not the same thing as "agree[ing] with the dictator’s assessment of his own nation’s wickedness." If anything, Chavez's assessment was that the US was too engaged in the affairs of Latin America. Obama certainly never validated Chavez's claim of "terroristic U.S. aggression" with his statements, nor did he apologize for such.

Incredible that folks these days seem to think that it is much better that we and those whom we love should suffer harm (even death) rather than the terrorists!

Aristocles -- Since the kind of suffering in question always has an agent, your statement would be more revealing if you used the active formulation instead of the passive: "Incredible that folks these days seem to think that it is much better that terrorists should inflict suffering (even death) rather than us and those whom we love!"

I, for one, do think it is better that terrorists be the ones hurting and killing than myself or my countrymen. Yes, that is an oversimplification, but it makes a better Christian principle than the opposite, which you (seem to) have voiced.


I, for one, do think it is better that terrorists be the ones hurting and killing...

I've lost enough loved ones to the terrorists on that fateful 9/11 day -- I find it abominable and utterly repugnant (to the point of vomitting) that you and those of your ilk would want me more of my beloved to die at the hands of these terrorists!

Shame on you! Shame on you all!

In other words, 9/11 to many of you might merely be a distant memory; however, for those who actually lost loved ones in that horrible event, it's still fresh in our memories!

The terrible crimes committed during 9/11 do not justify treating the perpetrators like beasts.

Terrorists, while wicked, are still human beings. If we start to divest them of their humanity then many other important things, like, say, the state of our souls, or the value of human life in the first place, is called into question.

Barbarism must not be countered by more barbarism, but by virtuous vigilance. It is not impossible to fight our enemies without compromising our most sacred values. If we begin to act like the barbarians who hate us, then we have already lost.


I wonder if you would subscribe to the same seemingly 'noble' rhetoric if you actually suffered devestating loss yourself as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

To think that even fellow Americans would unwittingly serve the terrorist agenda by providing these terrorists certain safe harbor in the form of such naivete & self-righteous dribble that would only serve to facilitate their evil end rather than obstruct it is, quite frankly, unbelievable!

Seriously, would you rather that we lose more of our precious loved ones as victims to further terrorist attacks, that we attend rightly to the protection of hundreds, if not, potentially thousands of innocent American lives (given the outrageous degree & sheer magnitude of the kinds of viscious attacks these terrorists aspire to -- and clearly, if 9/11 should give any indication at all, are capable of -- for maximum casualty of innocent American lives) or would you prefer that these same terrorists be catered to with such profound hospitality which would only ultimately serve to encourage them in this regard, like rewarding a criminal for outright murder.

Wow. Did Aristocles just accuse commenters here of serving the terrorist agenda by proposing that we should treat terrorists like human beings? Did he just label not torturing or killing a someone as "profound hospitality" and the equivalent of "rewarding" them?

Aristocles, it sounds as if your losses on September 11th were terrible. I hope you can believe (despite the muddling ether of cyberspace between us) that I am not only sorry for what you've lost and angry at those who perpetrated that great crime, but my heart seizes when I imagine being in a similar position. The fact that your last three comments have wielded this terrifying fact like a weapon illustrates the great pain you still feel. But with all due respect, I think you have turned that weapon on the wrong targets--against not only those who would counsel virtue and restraint in the face of crushing evil, but against virtue and restraint itself.

As Juan says, the terrorists may have already forfeited their souls, but we still have to account for our own.

And can this possibly be the same Aristocles who, in a long ago thread, was horrified and angered at my support for mere _individual_ self-defense when one is attacked by thugs, using (gasp) a gun if necessary?


The difference being where one's own life is concerned, one with certain Christian confidence allow such an injustice (such as the lost of his own life) to occur.

However, as regarding the very murder of populations of American civilians; the very protection of innocent lives should be sought to the extent possible where these terrorists are concerned.

No decent American deserves to suffer the kind of devestating tragedy that had occured then and still unfortunately haunts severals Americans still who themselves suffered the very pain of loss even now.

As I recall at the time, Ari, you were very upset even at my position that one could quite legitimately use a gun to defend the lives of one's family members or other attacked innocents. Does that mean it would or wouldn't have been okay to shoot one of the terrorists on 9/11 to prevent him from hijacking the plane? I mean, it seems to me just incredibly perverse to defend torture (if that is what you are defending--I don't actually know) on the one hand and to deplore self-defense and defense of others from immediate attack on the other.

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