Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Thomas Friedman writes one of the great speeches

Thomas Friedman is the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde of US political commentators. He takes an almost European approach to domestic matters while being a traditional Kennedy Liberal on international affairs.

To read Friedman on domestic affairs is almost as cringeworthy as reading Maureen Dowd; he is in lock step with the Democrat left on health care, global warming, social security and taxes. His articles lack depth, intellectual rigour and, most disturbingly, the support of hard evidence, relying more on emotion than logic.

Once he's taken his medicine, however, and turns his attention to matters beyond the US mainland then he becomes a serious, deep and impressive thinker. I might disagree with him on some of his foreign policy solutions but I can't fault him on his thought process.

Every man and his dog has had a crack at the Nobel Peace Prize Committee for not only making an ass of itself for awarding the prize to President Obama but also for diminishing the meaning of the award, yet again, so that it is now even more meaningless than it was after being given to Al Gore.

Friedman weighs in with the speech that the president should give at the acceptance ceremony. It is one of the great pieces of (speech)writing of modern times.
“Let me begin by thanking the Nobel committee for awarding me this prize, the highest award to which any statesman can aspire. As I said on the day it was announced, ‘I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who’ve been honored by this prize.’ Therefore, upon reflection, I cannot accept this award on my behalf at all.

“But I will accept it on behalf of the most important peacekeepers in the world for the last century — the men and women of the U.S. Army,Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.

“I will accept this award on behalf of the American soldiers who landed on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944, to liberate Europe from the grip of Nazi fascism. I will accept this award on behalf of the American soldiers and sailors who fought on the high seas and forlorn islands in the Pacific to free East Asia from Japanese tyranny in the Second World War.

“I will accept this award on behalf of the American airmen who in June 1948 broke the Soviet blockade of Berlin with an airlift of food and fuel so that West Berliners could continue to live free. I will accept this award on behalf of the tens of thousands of American soldiers who protected Europe from Communist dictatorship throughout the 50 years of the cold war.

“I will accept this award on behalf of the American soldiers who stand guard today at outposts in the mountains and deserts of Afghanistan to give that country, and particularly its women and girls, a chance to live a decent life free from the Taliban’s religious totalitarianism.

“I will accept this award on behalf of the American men and women who are still on patrol today in Iraq, helping to protect Baghdad’s fledgling government as it tries to organize the rarest of things in that country and that region — another free and fair election.

“I will accept this award on behalf of the thousands of American soldiers who today help protect a free and Democratic South Korea from an unfree and Communist North Korea.

“I will accept this award on behalf of all the American men and women soldiers who have gone on repeated humanitarian rescue missions after earthquakes and floods from the mountains of Pakistan to the coasts of Indonesia. I will accept this award on behalf of American soldiers who serve in the peacekeeping force in the Sinai desert that has kept relations between Egypt and Israel stable ever since the Camp David treaty was signed.

“I will accept this award on behalf of all the American airmen and sailors today who keep the sea lanes open and free in the Pacific and Atlantic so world trade can flow unhindered between nations.

“Finally, I will accept this award on behalf of my grandfather, Stanley Dunham, who arrived at Normandy six weeks after D-Day, and on behalf of my great-uncle, Charlie Payne, who was among those soldiers who liberated part of the Nazi concentration camp of Buchenwald.

“Members of the Nobel committee, I accept this award on behalf of all these American men and women soldiers, past and present, because I know — and I want you to know — that there is no peace without peacekeepers.

“Until the words of Isaiah are made true and lasting — and nations never again lift up swords against nations and never learn war anymore — we will need peacekeepers. Lord knows, ours are not perfect, and I have already moved to remedy inexcusable excesses we’ve perpetrated in the war on terrorism.

“But have no doubt, those are the exception. If you want to see the true essence of America, visit any U.S. military outpost in Iraq or Afghanistan. You will meet young men and women of every race and religion who work together as one, far from their families, motivated chiefly by their mission to keep the peace and expand the borders of freedom.

“So for all these reasons — and so you understand that I will never hesitate to call on American soldiers where necessary to take the field against the enemies of peace, tolerance and liberty — I accept this peace prize on behalf of the men and women of the U.S. military: the world’s most important peacekeepers.”
Give the man his credit. That is one terrific piece of writing. It is even suited to the president's style of speech.

There has been no greater force for peace than the US military. If you disagree then you need to name what group has done more to achieve peace, not talk about it or simply wish it were so.

I hope that by December President Obama has made the tough decisions he needs to in order to succeed in Afghanistan, which would then make giving this speech even more effective.

(Nothing Follows)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You know, Jack, when I read that piece, I didn't know what to make of it. The regular columnists for the NY TRAITOR are such reliable bone-headed librul tools, I couldn't really process whether he was actually serious.

Of course, it would be a perfect speech to make, and it would frankly mark a huge turnaround in my own antipathy to the guy and his program.

But I ain't holdin' my breath.