Jonah Goldberg

The greatest danger, Obama declared in Berlin, is not terrorism or global warming or even nuclear war. No, the "greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another." This week he rehashed the same rhetoric. "The time," Obama assured us again, "has come for those walls to come down."

Walls often exist for a good reason. They mark clear lines between peoples and nations. The Berlin Wall was not built by us, but by those who could not tolerate liberty. It is good that it came down with our victory in the Cold War. But it would have been better to keep it up than lose that struggle.

Of course, Obama's objection isn't to physical walls but figurative ones. His real point is that the cult of unity that marked the worst excesses of his presidential campaign should go global. "Old arguments are irrelevant to the challenges faced by our people," he says. Rather, "the interests of nations and peoples are shared."

The problem with this notion of shared interests is not that it's untrue, but that it's a half-truth. Some interests are shared, others not. It was in Poland's interest for us to honor our commitment on missile defense. Obama concluded that it was better for us to appease Russia's interests.

A core attitude unites Obama's domestic and foreign-policy visions: Principled disagreements are not legitimate if they do not conform to the president's agenda, be it on health care domestically or global warming and nuclear disarmament internationally. Call it a progressive version of "if you're not with us, you're against us."

According to Obama, a highlight in his nine months of redemptive accomplishments was his decision to join the Human Rights Council, a corrupt, farcically bureaucratic carbuncle designed to vilify Israel and whitewash the abuses of evil regimes. Critics say we should not lend it more authority. But by Obama's logic, such concerns are rooted in old arguments and ancient, irrelevant cleavages.

Meanwhile, 53 paragraphs into a 63-paragraph speech, Obama said that we should not view the principles of democracy as an afterthought.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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