Saturday, December 12, 2009

Peter Beinart on The Peace Prize Speech

A friend of mine often questions my support for fair trials for terrorists, lack of support for torture, and my pondering the thought that the Iraq war made us safer or that the Iraqi's are even better off now than under Hussein.  He pushes me to believe that America's moral superiority has always been right, through-out our history of conflicts.  It comes to mind that he questions my love for my country if I even try to see the other side.

Peter Beinart breaks with Bush's call for a new world order.  "Harry Truman, who George W. Bush often praised but never understood, once said that “We all have to recognize—not matter how great our strength—that we must deny ourselves the license to do always as we please.” To Bush and Cheney and Palin, the sentiment is offensive. Why should America not do as it pleases? After all, since our power stems from our virtue, the more unrestrained we are, the more good we will do."
"But Barack Obama, in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech Thursday morning, showed that he understands just what Truman meant. Because he understands, in a way Cheney and Palin never will, that true moral universalism requires recognizing that Americans are just as capable of evil as anyone else. And that means recognizing that we are in just as much need of restraint. For Obama and Truman, the paradox of American exceptionalism is that only by recognizing that we are not inherently better than anyone else, and thus must bind our power within a framework of law, can we distinguish ourselves from the predatory powers of the past."


  1. I didn't get that point of view from Obama's Norway speech at all. Obama was pointing to the ever present existence of evil everywhere, not just in America in particular. It was a decent speech, one which clearly made his listeners uneasy. This is the second major speech from the President that I thought was good--the first being the one at West Point. It's so much better to be fair to the President, as opposed to either worshipping him or despising him. When he makes a mistake, point that out. When he does well, point that out, too. But, alas, I doubt I'll see much of that in the media.

  2. Surprisingly, the right liked the speech.

  3. I was surprised that the right received the speech positively. There are times when I think the radical members of the right don't want to give Obama credit for anything, even when he deserves some props.