In other words, it’s a typical Friedman column. Today, he tells Pres. Obama what he should say in his Oslo acceptance speech. Long story short, he wants Obama to give a GWB speech. Of course, GWB did not win the Nobel Peace Prize. He did not win the Nobel Peace Prize because his “Who are you going to believe? Me or your lying eyes?” approach to talking up America pretty much alienated the whole planet. So now Friedman wants Obama to take the very global set of ideas and intentions that moved the Nobel Committee to award him the Peace Prize and throw it back in their faces. If eight years of George W. Bush telling Europeans that black was white, war was peace, occupation was liberation, and aggression was peacekeeping didn’t work, what makes Friedman think it’ll be a winning strategy now?
The Nobel committee did President Obama no favors by prematurely awarding him its peace prize. As he himself acknowledged, he has not done anything yet on the scale that would normally merit such an award — and it dismays me that the most important prize in the world has been devalued in this way.
It is not the president’s fault, though, that the Europeans are so relieved at his style of leadership, in contrast to that of his predecessor, that they want to do all they can to validate and encourage it. I thought the president showed great grace in accepting the prize not for himself but “as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.”
All that said, I hope Mr. Obama will take this instinct a step further when he travels to Oslo on Dec. 10 for the peace prize ceremony. Here is the speech I hope he will give:
“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. …
It gets more and more nauseating from there.
Why Friedman wants the President to repeat this Ode to American Exceptionalism — the same one his predecessor gave in every foreign policy speech he did throughout his entire two terms in office — is beyond my ability to comprehend. Obviously, it didn’t work because it wasn’t true, and the world beyond our shores could see that it wasn’t true because they could see the actual consequences of “American Exceptionalism” just by walking out their front doors.
Here is the bottom line: If the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces really were the true peacekeepers of the world, and if the last 65 years of U.S. foreign policy really did effectively demonstrate America’s commitment to peace, freedom, liberation, and protecting the weak from the strong, then why would that speech need to be given even once — much less over and over and over again for eight years?