The King’s Speech

The president’s speech last night was interesting. I remain a little uncertain as to what the criteria will be for future interventions. According to the president:

For generations, the United States of America has played a unique role as an anchor of global security and as an advocate for human freedom. Mindful of the risks and costs of military action, we are naturally reluctant to use force to solve the world’s many challenges. But when our interests and values are at stake, we have a responsibility to act.

Apparently, the justification rests on national interests and/or values. The president clearly believes that there are national interests at stake here. When reviewing the potential slaughter in Benghazi, he stated: “It was not in our national interest to let that happen.”

This past weekend, Defense Secretary Gates noted: “No, I don’t think it’s a vital interest for the United States, but we clearly have interests there, and it’s a part of a region which is a vital interest for the United States.” There was no compelling argument last night to contradict this assessment. Ultimately, things seem to hinge on values.

Once again, the president:

To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and -– more profoundly -– our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are. Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different.


Born, as we are, out of a revolution by those who longed to be free, we welcome the fact that history is on the move in the Middle East and North Africa, and that young people are leading the way. Because wherever people long to be free, they will find a friend in the United States. Ultimately, it is that faith — those ideals — that are the true measure of American leadership.

Given the number of people who find themselves under dictatorial rule and the threat of annihilation, and thus “long to be free,” it would appear that “our responsibilities to our fellow human beings” is almost boundless.

I am not a foreign policy expert (thankfully), but some of the Pileus readers and contributors (good morning Grover) most certainly are. Quick question: does last night’s speech make you wonder (once again) whether we are in the midst of George W. Bush’s third term? How would one distinguish last night’s comments from what one might encounter in the more refined neocon circles?

In case you wondered, William Kristol (Weekly Standard) found the speech “reassuring.” In his words:

The president was unapologetic, freedom-agenda-embracing, and didn’t shrink from defending the use of force or from appealing to American values and interests. Furthermore, the president seems to understand we have to win in Libya. I think we will.

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