In writing about the president’s remarks in Strasbourg, most conservative bloggers have (with good reason) faulted him for labeling American “arrogant” and for apologizing for the liberation of Iraq. ( I too had fun with the first comment.) It’s clear he was taking shots at his predecessor, borrowing from the standard arsenal of liberal rhetoric and ideas to do so.
Indeed, it seemed there were a number of such cheap shots shattered throughout the speech, particularly his reference to emerging “from an era marked by irresponsibility.”*
Let’s hope his successor shows him greater deference four years hence.
Despite the pettiness of parts of his speech, there were some moments when he seemed to be using his popularity abroad to good effect.Â He took on European anti-Americanism:
But in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual but can also be insidious. Instead of recognizing the good that America so often does in the world, there have been times where Europeans choose to blame America for much of what’s bad.
I wish the president has built on this, addressing some of the points Jean-FranÃ§ois Revel made in his book Anti-Americanism.Â European anti-Americanism is a serious problem and it precedes George W. Bush.Â (I lived there before he took office and experienced it firsthand.)
Still, it’s important that he said it.Â Let’s hope Europeans take his words to heart and examine their attitudes.
It wasn’t just in addressing European anti-Americanism where the president made some strong points.Â He underscored the importance of the war in Afghanistan:
I understand that there is doubt about this war in Europe. There’s doubt at times even in the United States. But know this: The United States of America did not choose to fight a war in Afghanistan. We were attacked by an al Qaeda network that killed thousands on American soil, including French and Germans. Along the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan, those terrorists are still plotting today. And they’re — if there is another al Qaeda attack, it is just as likely, if not more, that it will be here in Europe in a European city.
The American President thus reminded his European audience of something many of them would rather forget: they face an ever increasing risk of a terror attack.
Despite the potshots at his predecessor, President Obama, in Strasbourg, did say some things which needed to be said to our European allies.Â Let’s hope they listen.
*So, if we’ve emerging from this era of irresponsibility, I guess he’s saying it’s responsible to increase increased spending an exponential pace without the revenue to pay for all his new programs.
UPDATE:Â The folks at Powerline find much to fault in the speech, especially his reference to Abu Ghraib:
Obama thus repeats the slander that the pointless abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib by a handful of low-life Army Reservists was part of President Bush’s “strategy to battle terrorism.” This is an absurdity. The Reservists in question violated every known policy, which is why they went to jail when their crimes were discovered. For Obama to defame his own country in this way is contemptible.
Read the whole thing.