Yes, Great Orator, the world is starting to pay more attention to your content , or lack thereof, than to your delivery. Don’t worry, Barry. American Obots won’t start listening any time soon. If ever.
Obama’s Top Five Embarrassing World Speeches
Last week’s débacle at the United Nations where Barack Obama delivered a speech so naïve that even Jimmy Carter would have blushed, has inspired this list of the five most embarrassing speeches by the president (so far) as a world leader. By embarrassing I mean embarrassing to the United States, speeches that have projected weakness rather than strength, policy statements that have forced millions of Americans to cringe in front of their television sets.
In compiling this list I have picked the five presidential addresses by President Obama that represent the antithesis of the kind of leadership that Ronald Reagan demonstrated in confronting the Soviet Empire and winning the Cold War. These are all speeches that show either staggering naïveté or have gone out of their way to apologize for American power or America’s past, humiliating the United States in the process.
Here is my list, in descending order:
1. United Nations General Assembly Speech, New York, September 23, 2009
In a highly partisan political speech, the President went before the 192 members of the United Nations and trashed the counter-terror policies of the former US administration, as well as condemning the actions of a close American ally, Israel. Several thunderous rounds of applause greeted the president’s words, largely from countries with a track record of hating America. The Iranian and North Korean nuclear threats barely merited a mention, nor did the war in Afghanistan. Libyan tyrant Muammar Gaddafi swiftly followed with an admiring call for Obama to “stay forever as the president.” Even Hugo Chavez loved it.
“the time has come for the world to move in a new direction. We must embrace a new era of engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and our work must begin now… In an era when our destiny is shared, power is no longer a zero-sum game. No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation. No world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will succeed. No balance of power among nations will hold.”
2. Strasbourg Speech, April 3, 2009
A very close second in a highly competitive line-up, with its wincing talk of American “arrogance”. The President of the most powerful nation on earth traveled to France to deliver a grovelling, massive mea culpa for US foreign policy, including the War on Terror. Utter humiliation for America on European soil in front of a largely French and German audience who bitterly opposed the liberation of Iraq – not even Jacques Chirac could have dreamt it up.
“In America, there’s a failure to appreciate Europe’s leading role in the world. Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.”
3. Cairo University Speech, June 4, 2009
A 56-minute address that received a standing ovation from an audience that would have loudly booed Obama’s predecessor in the White House. Highlights included an attack on the US decision to go to war in Iraq – “a war of choice” as Obama called it – despite the fact that Saddam Hussein had failed to comply with no less than 16 UN Security Council resolutions. The president also drew a hugely controversial parallel between Jewish suffering in the Holocaust and the current plight of the Palestinians, strongly criticizing the Israeli “occupation”. As he did in Strasbourg and at the UN, Obama brought up the Guantanamo issue in front of an international audience, as part of a ritual exercise in self-loathing. Notably absent in this speech to the Muslim world was any mention of “terrorist”, “terrorism” or “Islamist”, or an assessment of the scale of the Iranian nuclear threat.
“Let me also address the issue of Iraq. Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world. Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible… 9/11 was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our traditions and our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change course.”
4. Prague Speech, April 5, 2009
This was the now infamous address by Barack Obama calling for the creation of a nuclear-free world, while downplaying the threat posed by rogue states such as Iran and North Korea. The president’s speech preceded his visit to Moscow in July, where he negotiated the framework for a major nuclear arms reduction deal with the Russians – ultimately leading to Washington’s shameful surrender over Third Site missile defences, a huge betrayal of US allies in eastern and central Europe. The Czechs will always remember this speech for Obama’s immortal words, just months before selling them down the river: “I am here to say that the United States will never turn its back on the people of this nation.”
“So today, I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. I’m not naive. This goal will not be reached quickly –- perhaps not in my lifetime. It will take patience and persistence. But now we, too, must ignore the voices who tell us that the world cannot change. We have to insist, “Yes, we can.”
5. National Archives Speech, Washington, DC, May 21, 2009
This was a speech delivered in front of Americans, but aimed at a global audience, representing Barack Obama’s strongest attack on the previous administration’s successful counter-terror policies. It was a humiliating US apology for key aspects of the War on Terror, clearly aimed at appeasing hostile international opinion, with little regard for advancing US national security. The National Archives address was a perfect propaganda gift to America’s enemies, representing the humbling of American power on the world stage.
“There is also no question that Guantanamo set back the moral authority that is America’s strongest currency in the world. Instead of building a durable framework for the struggle against al Qaeda that drew upon our deeply held values and traditions, our government was defending positions that undermined the rule of law… instead of serving as a tool to counter terrorism, Guantanamo became a symbol that helped al Qaeda recruit terrorists to its cause. Indeed, the existence of Guantanamo likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained.”