- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 20, 2010


At last week’s nuclear summit, President Obama said it is a vital U.S. national security interest to reduce conflict, “because

whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower, and when conflicts break out, one way or another, we get pulled into them.”

Our question is: What’s not to like? The United States has been one of the most beneficent global powers in the history of mankind, a beacon of freedom and a force for good for most of its history. But not everyone agrees - not even the current occupant of the White House.

Mr. Obama is a product of a leftist intellectual current, in which American global power and influence has generally if not exclusively been viewed as a negative force. This brand of revisionism arose from 1960s radicalism and opposition to the Vietnam War. The United States is portrayed as a neocolonialist bully, imposing its will on helpless people in the developing world for the benefit of American corporations. U.S. military power is viewed through the distorted lenses of the My Lai Massacre and Abu Ghraib. The CIA is a tool for assassination, coups and disinformation. Nuclear weapons are an unqualified evil. In general, the U.S. national security apparatus is seen as a malevolent force both at home and abroad.

Mr. Obama is not fully captive of the revisionist impulse. He has expanded the use of unmanned drone aircraft to conduct targeted killings abroad. He has continued the policy of conducting extraordinary renditions, whereby U.S. agents grab terrorist suspects and secretly relocate them across borders, which the left views as a form of government-sanctioned kidnapping. The Obama administration also has asserted the same level of executive secrecy as its predecessors, if not more. Despite all this, we have yet to see Code Pink accusing Mr. Obama of war crimes and calling for his impeachment.

The basic undercurrent of Obama foreign policy is that the United States is a fundamentally flawed country that has a lot to answer for. Witness ill-advised policies like rushing to try to close the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to push terrorist trials into civilian courts and to brand CIA interrogation methods as torture. When the president’s wife, Michelle Obama, famously informed the nation that, “for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country,” the statement should be taken as literally true. In these quarters, pre-Obama American history is a catalogue of violence, exploitation, bigotry and injustice.

At some level, the president may feel a sense of shame that the United States is a global superpower. But Mr. Obama is the commander in chief, like it or not.

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