President Obama’s speech at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial included common themes and references to the human condition, the depravity of man, the value of scientific achievement, coupled with the realities of war.
Obama referenced his own desire to see nuclear weapons eliminated but added he might not see that reality take place in his lifetime. He ended his speech with a call to humanity to embrace the ideal that we’re all members of one world family, and called for a moral awakening in his closing remarks.
But award-winning columnist and author Charles Krauthammer accuses the president of being a naïve idealist.
Krauthammer writes it’s important to know the differences between idealists and realists. “For realists, generally conservative, history is an endless cycle of clashing power politics.The same patterns repeat. Only the names and places change,” the author contends. “The best we can do in our own time is to defend ourselves, managing instability and avoiding catastrophe. But expect nothing permanent, no essential alteration in the course of human affairs.”
Krauthammer says by contrast, idealists “believe that the international system can eventually evolve out of its Hobbesian state of nature into something more humane and hopeful,” mainly through peace treaties and diplomacy, as Obama suggested in Hiroshima.
The columnist contends, “Barack Obama is a classic case study in foreign policy idealism. Indeed, one of his favorite quotations is about the arrow of history: ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’ He has spent nearly eight years trying to advance that arc of justice. Hence his initial ‘apology tour,’ that burst of confessional soul-searching abroad about America and its sins, from slavery to the loss of our moral compass after 9/11. Friday’s trip to Hiroshima completes the arc.”
But Krauthammer charges Obama with failed policies.
“Unfortunately, with ‘justice’ did not come peace,” he writes. “The policies that followed — appeasing Vladimir Putin, the Iranian mullahs, the butchers of Tiananmen Square and lately the Castros — have advanced neither justice nor peace. On the contrary. The consequent withdrawal of American power, that agent of injustice or at least arrogant overreach, has yielded nothing but geopolitical chaos and immense human suffering. (See Syria).”
The reality is the world is not a peaceful place. It never has been. And if history repeats itself, it never will be.
Thus, while Krauthammer is strongly critical of Obama’s idealism, citing its failures to create peace in the Middle East, he gives passing credit to Obama for deferring to realism for returning the U.S. military to the Philippines, ending the arms embargo with Vietnam (thereby partnering with Vietnam to help contain China), and cites the Trans-Pacific partnership as an economic cordon around China.
Barack Obama’s Apology Tour — Foreign-Policy Realism & Idealism | National Review https://t.co/KrVOaqtBDy
— Joe FreedomLover (@JoeFreedomLove) May 27, 2016
The Fox News contributor, award-winning journalist and author concluded Obama’s legacy will be two-fold. “He thus leaves a double legacy. His arc-of-justice aspirations, whatever their intention, leave behind tragic geopolitical and human wreckage. Yet this belated acquiescence to realpolitik, laying the foundations for a new containment, will be an essential asset in addressing this century’s coming central challenge, the rise of China,” he said, concluding China’s power will be hard to contain, much like cold-war Russia’s was nearly impossible to contain.