Last week, President Obama spoke to the United Nations about the growing threat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. In the course of that speech, he discussed a wide variety of threats to Western civilization, ranging from Ebola to global warming, from chaos in Syria to China's incursions in the South China Sea. The speech seemed unfocused, meandering. But it held together thanks to one common thread: Barack Obama believes that words solve everything. Particularly his own.
Obama's narcissism isn't mere arrogance. It's messianism. It's pure faith that his verbiage can alter the course of history. "We are here," Obama said, "because others realized that we gain more from cooperation than conquest." Well, actually, no -- the United Nations exists because evil nations were forced through conquest to admit that cooperation might be a more advantageous strategy.
"While small gains can be won at the barrel of a gun," Obama said, "they will ultimately be turned back if enough voices support the freedom of nations and peoples to make their own decisions." Not exactly -- millions of voices in North Korea have not altered the fate of those stuck in the world's largest gulag, nor have millions of voices in Iran freed them of the tyranny of the mullahs.
"The ideology of ISIL or al Qaeda or Boko Haram will wilt and die if it is consistently exposed, confronted, and refuted in the light of day," Obama spouted. If good argument killed bad argument, Islamism wouldn't be on the march, but on the ash heap of history. Global politics, it turns out, is not a Harvard Law mock trial.
"We believe that right makes might," Obama summed up, "that bigger nations should not be able to bully smaller ones, that people should be able to choose their own future." Hogwash would be too kind a word to describe this sort of highfaluting idiocy -- if right made might, millions of Jews would still populate Europe.
In reality, right dictates that right arm itself -- right must become might in order to emerge victorious. Americans know that.
Because Americans know that, Obama must occasionally bow to reality. And so, in the same speech in which Obama called for Russian, Chinese and Syrian conflicts to be resolved through diplomacy, he uttered the most un-Obamaesque comment of his entire presidency with regard to ISIS: "The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force."
This is eminently true. It is also so far out of Obama's wheelhouse that he almost strained an oblique in making that statement. And, in fact, when polling doesn't apply to him, Obama is happy to pressure other nations (SET ITAL) not (END ITAL) to use the language of force -- in the same speech, Obama pressured Israel to negotiate with its enemies, even though its enemies are of the exact same ilk as ISIS. If Obama does not bear a striking animus for the Jewish state, the best that can be said is that he wants Israel to be on the cutting edge of Western civilization's rhetoric-first throat-cutting. After all, Obama tells Israel, too many Israelis are "ready to abandon the hard work of peace."
Yes, the hard work of peace. With people who want to slit their throats.
That's the real Obama, not the puffed-chest commander-in-chief threatening to bomb virtually everyone in virtually every country in the Middle East.
And that's the problem. Lack of foreign policy comes from lack of belief in the principled use of force. And so Obama, the messianic narcissist, vacillates between two extremes: empty threats and pathetic wheedling. Neither works.