The opening ode to West Point set the tone for Obama’s speech: apparently what is best about our country is our militarism. While he couched our war-mongering in nicer terms, as “prepared to stand up for our security,” the remainder of his speech indicated that he may be just as much (or more) of a war president than Bush.
Echoing the rhetoric of his predecessor, he called on the 9/11 narrative as a rallying cry.
He failed to touch on key historical points, namely that the US caused much of the current instability in the Middle East. His failure to even once mention Israel and how the US-Israel alliance perpetuates Middle-Eastern instability speaks volumes.
While he noted we are in “the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression,” he failed to examine how permanent war has a HUGE hand in creating this crisis.
Taking liberty with facts, he waxed poetical about how “Our union was founded in resistance to opposition.” Ah, there it is, the comforting narrative that those white forefathers were an oppressed people merely seeking (religious) freedom. Never mind that these supposed resistance fighters decimated the people who were already here, committing genocide against the indigenous population.
No, according to Obama, “We do not seek to occupy other nations. We will not claim another nation’s resources.” What then was our occupation of this land? Did we really just seek to share turkey with the original inhabitants?
This claim is also preposterous given present day realities. We ACTIVELY seek to occupy other nations and WE DO – our military bases are all over the world. We have military in 70% of the world’s countries. Further, we claim and destroy resources on a global level, treating the world as our Wal-Mart.
Ironically, Obama claimed he is “mindful of the words of President Eisenhower,” referencing a quote about balance in relation to national spending. Apparently he is not so mindful of another famous Eisenhower quote: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex.”
Instead, Obama beats the drums of war yet couches his cry in double-speak. The escalation of the war was referred to as “Afghan responsibility” while our military might was linked to “prosperity” and “diplomacy.” Referring euphemistically to our global imperialism as “a foundation for our power,” he argued we will “compete in this century as successfully as we did in the last.” Hmmm, is he referring to the fact we will likely wage as many wars, compete with the rest of the world, and kill as many innocent civilians? Is this what he means by successful competition?
In jingoism typical of such speeches, he said “And we must make it clear to every man, woman and child around the world who lives under the dark cloud of tyranny that America will speak out on behalf of their human rights, and tend to the light of freedom, and justice, and opportunity, and respect for the dignity of all peoples.” Apparently he has forgotten about (or chooses to ignore) the “dark cloud of tyranny” hailing down within American borders. How can a country that does not secure the human rights of its own inhabitants (of women, of non-heterosexuals, of people of color…) claim to be a light for justice for the rest of the globe?
Claiming that “more than any other nation, the United States of America has underwritten global security for over six decades,” Obama revealed himself as either a master of denial or in need of some serious history lessons.
Closing with the typical claim that it’s all for the good of our nation’s future, of the children, he argued “What we have fought for – and what we continue to fight for – is a better future for our children and grandchildren.” Really, then why are we demolishing the education system and ramping up the prison industrial complex? Are these not more pressing issues than stamping our red, white, and blue boot on other nations?
In his closing comments, he said “We will go forward with the confidence that right makes might.” Here, he switched up the more common phrase “might makes right,” which tends to be used to critique unwarranted use of power and again echoed Bush, insinuating that we are right, we are the center of the universe, and that our military might will make the world a better place. I doubt it. But it certainly will make the world more RIGHT– more conservative, more fundamentalist, more extremist, more based on haves and have-nots… It will continue to kill in the name of security, maim and disfigure in the name of diplomacy, and decimate nations and peoples in the name of justice. Sadly, my friends, the war marches on, with Obama as lead soldier.
For a full text of the war cry, see here.