Good Luck (And Brush Up On Your History)

Throughout the Big O’s speech I had the nagging feeling that something was missing. Don’t get me wrong. ‘Twas a good speech. Indeed it was a great speech. But it wasn’t one for the books and it didn’t provide a decent one-liner. In that respect it wasn’t an inspirational speech.

Word cloud of Big O’s speech (source)

On a purely emotional level I was somewhat disappointed by this. It would be kind of cool to see a 21st century equivalent of “I have a dream…” or “Ask not what your country can do for you…“.

On a politically rational level, however, there is little that the speech left to be desired. He clearly laid out his priorities, pointed out the weaknesses but reassured the people that things are doable. The fact, that he took a big but well measured swipe at Dubya only strengthened the power of his words. However, he apparently felt the need to support his words by drawing from history, not in the least by quoting George Washington and following (quite literally) in the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln.

I must admit, however, that I was slightly unsettled by Obama putting communism and fascism in the same basket when he said that “(…) earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions.”. Without trying to put too fine a point on it, it should be noted that while Fascism and its equally despicable offspring, Nazism, were defeated by brute force, Communism crumbled because it was outspent, outdeveloped by capitalist (or liberal) democracy. Hence, fascism was defeated by missiles and tanks whereas communism was defeated by sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. I’m sorry if I sound too anal about it. I realize that the above might make little to no difference on the other side of The Pond, but I feel these things should not be left unsaid. History is important over here as well.

In any case, The Big O set himself the task to remake America. Good luck!

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

5 thoughts on “Good Luck (And Brush Up On Your History)”

  1. One could argue that if there hadn’t been an alliance with the U.S. before and during WWII (albeit reluctantly on the U.S.’s part in its initial stages), fascism and nazism would not have been bombed to bits the way they were. At least on the European battlefront.
    Communism, on the other hand, was indeed outspent, but definitely also outbombed, albeit in a different, more metaphysical manner. The nuclear arms race decided the fate of the Soviet Union in the sense that the U.S.S.R. outspent itself in trying to have more nuclear weapons than the U.S. and in doing so, made the entire system collapse.
    My grandparents’ generation, who lived through WWII, still see the U.S. as ‘the allies’ who liberated them and allowed prosperity to grow over here post bellum through the Marshall Plan. So there’s your link with the ‘enduring convictions’. What he said was not all a 100% historically correct, but in politics, perception is the key word and Obama’s speech was tailored to be perceived as ‘A New Hope’ (Star Wars pun intended). Looking back to the past eight years, that’s already lot more than we got under ‘that other guy’ who preceded him. But again, actions speak louder than words in the end. Putting the lid on the pending executive decisions of the former administration until they’ve been carefully examined being Obama’s first act as president is already a step in the right direction, methinks. But only one step in a long, long way to go…

  2. What about the domino theory?

    Some might argue that communism was also defeated by brute force. Henry Kissinger enlarged US’s proxy war in Vietnam to let USSR and China know, that communism won’t spread unopposed. He also had a policy of backing fascist dictators, which brutally suppressed the communist/socialist opposition in countries with great social inequalities.

  3. I have severe deep rooted malice towards communism and communists. The biggest mistake of WWII was not destroying the USSR.

  4. Even the lady doing live translation on RTV SLO1 translated that as “nacizem in fašizem” – so deeply rooted are such word combinations in ….Slovene, for example.
    BUt I agree that he should have kept communism out of that otherwise good speech.

  5. @dr. Arf: Very much to the point. Thank you.

    @abaris: Domino theory is on a par with WMD bullshit we were fed by Bush. In both cases the US waged an unnecesary war and if anything it only helped spread ideology it was supposed to stem.

    @Robert: In case you forgot, USSR was on our side during the war.

    @venera: Ha! I hadn’t noticed that. I was watching it on BBC and CNN. But thanks for the tip.

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