Saturday, July 25, 2009

Is Obama Ignorant of History or Just Ignorant of the Extent of his Ignorance Or Purposely Twisting the Truth?

Obama on Afghanistan: victory is a four-letter word
By Neo-neocon
July 25, 2009

Excerpt. Highlight added:

Has a US Commander in Chief ever spoken this way in the middle of a war?

President Obama has put securing Afghanistan near the top of his foreign policy agenda, but "victory" in the war-torn country isn't necessarily the United States' goal, he said Thursday in a TV interview...

...Obama added a historically ignorant and otherwise troublesome statement when he went on to say:

  • I'm always worried about using the word 'victory,' because, you know, it invokes this notion of Emperor Hirohito coming down and signing a surrender to MacArthur.

Love that "you know" -- because anyone who does know history knows that's not what actually happened.

Hirohito did give a radio speech to the people of Japan announcing the country's surrender. But he never "came down" from anywhere (is Obama somehow confusing Hirohito with Moses and Sinai?) to sign a surrender to MacArthur. I'm not a huge expert on history myself, but nevertheless I suspected as soon as I read that particular sentence that it was probably incorrect, even before I checked it out:

  • The formal surrender occurred on September 2, 1945 when representatives from the Empire of Japan signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender in Tokyo Bay aboard the USS Missouri. Shigemitsu signed for the civil government, while Gen. Umezu signed for the military.

Is Obama's specific error about Hirohito important? Not really; it's quite minor. But it's another indication of Obama's view of history: a lot of dramatic images (or, as he said, "notions") and very little detail or understanding of what's going on, or the need to do so. And I suspect Obama is ignorant in the worst way: he's ignorant of the extent of his ignorance. Or perhaps he's not ignorant at all, but purposely twisting the truth. Or maybe each, at different times.

This tendency of Obama's has been in evidence in many of his speeches: his summary of the Cold War, which he got entirely wrong. His Cairo address to the Muslim world on their history and that of the West, in which "almost every one of his references was either misleading or incomplete." On the campaign trail, when he showed astounding historical ignorance (or prevarication; take your choice) in his mischaracterization of the Berlin airlift.

Obama's errors are not random; they fit a certain pattern:

  1. glorification of other cultures and countries at the expense of the US
  2. exaggeration of the negatives about the US and downplaying of our strengths
  3. negative point of view about military endeavors
  4. exaggeration and/or imagining the role cooperation and negotiation plays, particularly with tyrants and enemies
  5. assuming the carrot of negotiation and dialogue is enough to change tyrants and enemies without the stick

...Obama's reluctance to pursue victory in Afghanistan is not just about that country and the peculiar challenges of combat there...because of the negative associations it conjures up in his mind: Hirohito coming down to sign a surrender to MacArthur...

So, what might Obama find so terrible about all of that? If I had to guess, knowing what I now know about our President, I'd say that it's related to what he sees as the humiliation ("coming down") of a non-white (in this case, an Asian) at the hands of a white American military man who was nothing if not overbearing (in this case, MacArthur), in order to not only surrender but to unconditionally surrender, and then to have his country occupied by the morally despicable US.

That is what American victory means to Obama. And he's determined to avoid it