Obama’s moral order and “the limits of reason”

We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth: We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations — acting individually or in concert — will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified. […] I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism — it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.

Barack Obama, Acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize, 10 December 2009

So there you have it. Obama has no choice but to drop powerful bombs from robotic aircraft on lands halfway around the world because al-Qaeda is both irrational and threatening in the much the same way Nazi Germany was. Of course, this is lunacy worthy of Munich-obsessed neocons, but the speech doesn’t come across that way at first glance. Obama, a man of supposed nuance, has mastered the art of portraying himself as a reluctant warrior.

Four years ago he gave us this rationalization for expanding the insanity of the War on Terror. About a week after this speech was given a US cruise missile filled with cluster bombs killed 55 people, mostly civilians, in a remote location in Yemen’s Abyan province. On the 12th of this very month, two days day after the 4th year anniversary of Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize speech, a drone strike hit a wedding procession in Yemen and killed 15 people.

Of course, Obama will become the next Chamberlain if he ceases to authorize such strikes. He said it himself while accepting the Nobel Peace Prize.


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