‘American Leadership at Its Best’

WILLIAM KRISTOL,  The Weekly Standard

In his September 10 speech to the nation, President Obama said, “This is American leadership at its best: We stand with people who fight for their own freedom; and we rally other nations on behalf of our common security and common humanity.”

Obama’s wrong. Standing with people who fight for their own freedom and rallying other nations are good things. But they’re not American leadership at its best. If they were, Americans would be prouder of Lend-Lease than of D-Day. Americans would respect the U.N. Security Council more than the U.S. Marine Corps. We don’t. And we shouldn’t.

Why did Obama say such a thing? Well, he must think, this is the 21st century. It’s no longer necessary to “fight our country’s battles / In the air, on land, and sea,” or to be “First to fight for right and freedom / And to keep our honor clean.” That was all so 19th century. That has no place in Obama’s 21st century.

Unfortunately, Obama’s 21st century is imaginary. Even Obama now realizes that there are retrograde forces around. Even Obama realizes that we’ll still occasionally need to use military assets. President Obama says he isn’t embarrassed by that. He “could not be prouder of our men and women in uniform—pilots who bravely fly in the face of danger above the Middle East, and service-members who support our partners on the ground.” That’s our president’s pride and joy: pilots who fly “above the Middle East” and “service-members” who support our partners on the ground.

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