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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/9986/obama-sounds-like-an-echo/

Obama Sounds Like an Echo

May 20, 2009 by

How on earth did Obama get to claim the mantle of ‘peace’ candidate? Anyone hoping for a change from the violent delusion of neoconservatism will find only an echo in Barack Obama. This is not to our advantage, since a great orator can explain away a lot of guilt and allow even more room for disastrous ignorance. FULL ARTICLE

{ 13 comments }

Matthew May 20, 2009 at 8:51 am

[...] “isolationism of the sort that prevailed in the 1930s [is] now thoroughly discredited” (2006, p. 284) — a fact that Switzerland might find surprising.

Could you explain what you mean by “a fact that Switzerland might find surprising?”

CJ Maloney May 20, 2009 at 9:20 am

Matthew, Switzerland keeps to themselves and nobody attacks them. They have been involved in zero wars for over a hundred years through the simple fact of not meddling in other peoples’ business. Leave alone and let alone and be left alone. The USA needs to go back to that mode of living.

CJ Maloney May 20, 2009 at 9:41 am

Matthew, Switzerland keeps to themselves and nobody attacks them. They have been involved in zero wars for over a hundred years through the simple fact of not meddling in other peoples’ business. Leave alone and let alone and be left alone. The USA needs to go back to that mode of living.

Michael A. Clem May 20, 2009 at 9:59 am

Great article! It sounds like Obama offered the American people “hope for change”, just no real change. Admittedly, there was little reason to think that McCain would have been a better president, but I suspect he would have been a little more honest about his intentions. Real change won’t come from within the “Two-Party System”.

Jonathan Finegold Catalán May 20, 2009 at 10:03 am

This is an interesting essay, and I enjoyed reading it. However, I feel that it goes a bit to the extreme, takes what Barack Obama writes out of context and effectively puts words in the president’s mouth. Now, I am no supporter of Obama’s fiscal, or the majority of his foreign affairs, policies, but I do not think that articles like these make a good case against him. Frankly, I think that the author is grasping at straws in order to somehow put the president down.

Unfortunately, Obama intends to continue it and promises “to renew American leadership in the world … [and] strengthen our common security by investing in our common humanity” (2007). Where George W. Bush claimed to be bringing “compassionate conservatism” to the world, Obama is promising much the same in the foreign-policy realm — he wants to show the world “compassionate interventionism.” Empire with a smiley face.

I generally would agree, but I believe that you’re trying to make more of this than what it says. For example, you write:

Mr. Obama, with no proofs to back the assertion, and countless dead and wounded to refute it, claims that “today, we are again called to provide visionary leadership” (2007) to “help reduce spheres of insecurity, poverty, and violence around the world” (2006, p. 315). Called by whom, exactly, he does not reveal — definitely not the Iraqi or Afghani people, safe to say.

He has been president for three months; you can hardly lay the blame for the “countless dead and wounded” at his feet. I’m not sure what these casualties have to do with his message, even if his message is a pile of malarkey. But, to be honest, this is a poor argument against Obama’s ambitions and goals.

Maybe God called him. God calls many politicians.

This is a red herring and a fallacy of false cause. This has nothing to do with Obama. You are just humorously trying to make the connection, but it simply undermines your own argument.

The argument that comes thereafter is brilliantly composed and I agree with it 100%. Obama commits the same mistake all U.S. leaders have made; they have tried to apply Western customs to countries that do not share our culture. As a citizen of Spain, I can attest to the fact that the liberalization of the market in Spain under the rule of Francisco Franco did not begin with the introduction of American culture on a massive scale. And I agree that the passage about our neutrality in the 1930s is absurd:

He believes that while “in the past, there was the perception that America could perhaps safely ignore nations” (2006, p. 305), Pearl Harbor and 9-11 prove “isolationism of the sort that prevailed in the 1930s [is] now thoroughly discredited” (2006, p. 284) — a fact that Switzerland might find surprising.

First of all, neutrality in regards to what, exactly? The Second World War did not begin until September 1939. In terms of financial intervention, I’m sure Garet Garret would disagree with the president. But, I should mention that in the regards to finance, Switzerland was hardly neutral. But, that is besides the point, and does not make your case any weaker.

But, this is where I think your case is temporarily derailed:

How on earth did Obama get to claim the mantle of “peace” candidate?

There is nothing to suggest, other than your insinuations, that his ambition is to literally go to war with nations around the world. I don’t think that’s the kind of intervention Obama has in mind. Although I think that you are correct in assuming that any intervention has more negative side-effects than positive, I think that you are refuting straw men and ignore his real message. Of course, as aforementioned, it’s simply too early to know Mr. Obama’s true intentions … no matter how sinister they may be.

In his Foreign Affairs article, Obama says he “will not hesitate to use force, unilaterally if necessary, to protect the American people or our vital interests whenever we are attacked or imminently threatened” (2007, emphasis mine). He makes this point clear in the book, too, warning that “we have the right to take unilateral military action to eliminate an imminent threat to our security” (2006, p. 308 emphasis his). Doubtless there will be plenty of money in the Obama budget to track down those elusive WMDs.

Another irrelevant conclusion.

Yet while making hay with the antiwar crowd with his condemnation of the Iraq War, Mr. Obama is still a true believer in the ideology that caused the war to be launched in the first place. To wit, “[t]he security and well-being of each and every American depend on the security and well-being of those who live beyond our borders” (2007).

Let’s not be naïve Mr. Maloney. The security of the United States was hardly a reason behind the invasion of Iraq; it simply served as a poorly constructed cassus belli. You may argue that Obama may create similar frauds, but I don’t think that you can support that argument with the proper evidence this early in Obama’s presidency.

Again, I am not saying that your general point is wrong. I largely agree with you. But you have reduced it to the absurd. You have made the case so extreme that it’s hardly believable, and you have attempted to criticize Obama by refuting “his arguments” that you yourself put in his mouth.

I am likely to receive a lot of heat for this post, and most readers will probably disagree with me. Let me re-state that I am not refuting your message; I am simply offering my opinion on what weakened your argument.

Franklin May 20, 2009 at 12:59 pm

“He has been president for three months; you can hardly lay the blame for the ‘countless dead and wounded’ at his feet.”

Mr. Maloney never did. The sentence from where you clipped the quote did not lay the blame at his feet whatsoever. Further, the three months have turned to just about four. The clock is ticking and I’m really tiring of the “he inherited…he only just started” kind of nonsense.

Obama continues to the spending spree, the borrowing spree, the foreign intervention policies. He can blame the Congress for not closing Gitmo, but then his words are as empty as his platitudes. Soldiers are still dying in Afghanistan and Iraq.

To me, Mr. Maloney’s overall thrust is that we have the same-old, same old. I do believe, however, you are on steady ground when you critique the implicit predictions; i.e., “…those elusive WMDs.”

Jonathan Finegold Catalan May 20, 2009 at 1:08 pm

But, he did. He is saying that the countless dead and wounded somehow refute Obama’s message. They have little to do with Obama’s message, since they were not products of Obama’s presidency.

I agree that the fact that he has only been president for three months does not mean that he is not at fault for anything. His fiscal policy has proven to be horrendous. But, you can’t call him on things that he hasn’t done yet, either.

Matt May 20, 2009 at 3:02 pm

Jonathon -

While I agree that it is a bit of a stretch to place the blame for “countless dead bodies” at the feet of Obama, there is no reason to believe Obama would have acted differently if he were in Dubya’s position in the run-up to the war. Obama voted in favor of every possible war supplemental bill possible…and for that he is directly culpable for the dead bodies that result from his actions.

Further, the whole “he inherited/he’s just started” line is a canard – Obama knew exactly what he was getting in to when he ran for the office because he’s voted in favor of nearly every measure that put us in this position in the first place.

JD May 20, 2009 at 5:45 pm

He was a selling point to the naive populace that responds to the manufactured political-driven race wars, but nonetheless follows the policies of former administrations, which the Rich Socialists influence heavily. Too much is invested to change course now towards a free-mkt. driven society, with limited or no govt. The Rich Socialist, their tools (bureaucrats/politicians) are always scheming with the Coercive State, and as far as I can tell will always do so. It’s up the Freeman to curtail or flat out stop them in their tracks, one way or another.

Partisanship aside, hopefully nobody on here even remotely believed in something different would come out of this adminstration, when the system itself is corrosive from the top down.

Sorry, to be so pesimistic, but Americans have been really asleep to the real danger of the State, and with good intentions have believed that somebody with high moral character could change things for the better.

Jonathan Finegold Catalán May 20, 2009 at 5:55 pm

Matt,

You create a strong case. Like I said, I don’t disagree with the article. I disagree with how the author presented his case; i.e. his arguments. Your comments go to show that the argument could have been made a lot stronger had he used Obama’s track record, instead of misconstruing Obama’s article and book.

On the other hand, I disagree that had Obama been president starting in 2001 that he would have followed the same track as George W. Bush. I do not think Obama would have had the same machinations and the same intentions to invade Iraq (Afghanistan, perhaps and probably).

And, in regards to your final comment. I partially agree, although I still do not believe that is reason to say that Obama’s intentions are the same as Bush’s, and that we’re just seeing George W. Bush II. I agree, as aforementioned, that Obama is interested in bigger government (obviously; that isn’t something he is denying), but I do not think that Obama is going to be invading any other nation during his presidency (as this article seems to suggest… quoted below).

If you think neocon rhetoric towards Iran and North Korea is alarming, be warned that Mr. Obama can rattle a saber with the best of ‘em. Like Hillary Clinton, George Bush, and Dick Cheney, he too insists, “we must not rule out using military force” against them — “them” being defined as “Iran and North Korea,” at least for the moment.

Finally, I understand Mr. Maloney’s intentions and I largely agree with him. I am simply saying that he has presented a very weak argument, and the real point has been clouded by his fallacies and the obsession with refuting Obama’s intentions to go to war, amongst other things.

Matt May 20, 2009 at 6:22 pm

Jonathon -

Excellent points – I tend to go overboard with cynicism with respect to our elected officials…I understand what you’re saying and I think I agree with you.

Although I still think Obama would have invaded Afghanistan and Iraq…war is an irresistible siren song for every politician!

Mac May 20, 2009 at 6:53 pm

My favorite lines:

Where George W. Bush claimed to be bringing “compassionate conservatism” to the world, Obama is promising much the same in the foreign-policy realm — he wants to show the world “compassionate interventionism.” Empire with a smiley face.

@Jonathan
Hyperbole and understatement can be highly entertaining. And it breaks up the dull and gray areas nicely. Mr. Maloney’s opinion was delightful, to my ears, and I also picked up the “irrelevant conclusions.” Satire works for some people and doesn’t for others.

I’m sure Mr. Maloney knew the audience he was writing for — smart knowledgeable people, who know that many of Obama’s good intentions are going to lead down a painful, unnecessary road that will be sugarcoated by his eloquence. From the article’s tone I gathered he wanted the article, instead of stating what is obvious, to bring light to this in a humorous way. I liked it because it did all that.

I also read your criticism, and would agree with most of its points. Ironically, you were a bit of a “killjoy,” in Maloney’s words. ;P

Cheers

Mark May 21, 2009 at 3:00 pm

I don’t understand the assumption that Obama is an intelligent man. We’ve seen no evidence that he’s intelligent so far, and plenty of evidence that he is not. I think he’s a blind ideologue with a great skill for reading speeches written by others, and the foreign policy exposed in this essay has been boilerplate Democrat foreign policy for a century.

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