2nd District, North Carolina
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2nd District, North Carolina
Obama: ‘Peace in Our Time’
It was either an embarrassing slip, or a frightening revelation of the president’s true worldview. Either way, the words “peace in our time,” made infamous by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain as he promised an illusory peace with Adolf Hitler in 1938, should never have been in President Barack Obama’s second inaugural address. Yet they were, and went virtually unnoticed until caught by conservatives on social media.
The phrase appeared in a passage on foreign policy, in which the president pledged to defend the nation while resolving differences peacefully [emphasis added]:
And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice–not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice.
The sentence is rather tortured, but the idea seems to be that promoting socioeconomic equality around the world can help prevent conflict. It echoes the “root causes” theory of terrorism, which is that poverty produces extremism or at least provides it fertile ground There is some truth to that, although many terrorists come from middle class origins, and target America precisely because it symbolizes the values the president described.
Regardless, the reason Chamberlain’s “peace in our time” is remembered is not that his theory of international relations was wrong but because he was hopelessly, dangerously naïve about Hitler’s intentions. A year after Chamberlain waved the paper on which he had signed the Munich Agreement, ceding the sovereignty of Czechosolvakia in return for Hitler’s promises of peace, Germany had invaded Poland and Britain was at war.
President Obama shows similar naïveté, or hubris, about the war against international terrorism. “A decade of war is now ending,” he declared, even as a new front has opened in the war against Al Qaeda in Africa. He–ironically–failed to mention Afghanistan, where soldiers still fight and die in a cause President Obama has all but abandoned, and where America has already once suffered the brutal consequences of neglect.
Like Chamberlain, the president seems to believe in negotiation as an end in itself. He spent his first term seeking an elusive nuclear agreement with the Iranian regime, even permitting it to recover from a near-revolution in 2009, convinced that its assurances of peaceful intentions would be enough. He backed away from promises of missile defense to Poland and the Czech Republic–receiving nothing from Russia in return.
When Republicans called President Obama’s approach “appeasement,” he responded angrily: “Ask Osama bin Laden…whether I engage in appeasement.” Yet Obama has been trying to negotiate with the Taliban who once sheltered bin Laden and Al Qaeda, in an attempt to put a brave face on withdrawal. And Al Qaeda’s attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions in the Middle East on Sep. 11, 2012 suggest that it has not been deterred.
The president intends to continue pulling back. His nominees to foreign policy posts–John Kerry (State), Chuck Hagel (Defense), and John Brennan (CIA)–each share his vision of a humbler America. He pretends the alternative to his approach is “perpetual war.” But Ronald Reagan showed the merit of “peace through strength,” challenging Soviet aggression, standing up to terror and letting dissidents know they were not alone.
President Obama has shown a very selective interest in history, narrowly focused on the sites of civil rights struggles–Osawatomie, for example, and the three sites mentioned in his address. Beyond that familiar subject, he shows little sensitivity or expertise: he once flubbed the date of the Constitutional Convention, for example, and pulled out of the missile defense deal on the 60th anniversary of the Russian invasion of Poland.
History remembers Chamberlain’s “peace in our time” as the definitive statement of appeasement, which is precisely why its use in the president’s inaugural address is so odd, and ominous. It is possible that it was simply the error of a young speechwriter. But the White House boasted that the president had written early drafts of his address. And his policies suggest that “peace in our time” is indeed, despite history, close to his heart.
- January 13, 2013
The Struggle for the Fertile Crescent
Syria’s sectarian civil war has upended the political equation across the region, from Baghdad to Lebanon.
- By FOUAD AJAMI
EXCERPT FROM THIS ARTICLE: Perhaps things would not be as they are if the Obama administration had opted for a residual U.S. presence in Iraq that would have checked the influence of Iran and given Baghdad greater assurance and nerve. Perhaps the conflict in Syria would have played out differently had we been spared the courtship of Assad in 2009 and 2010 by the Obama administration, and by an eager Sen. John Kerry, who ran interference for the administration.
With a more assertive American policy, perhaps a line would have been drawn for the Syrians in Lebanon. They had been banished from that country in 2005 thanks to the Cedar Revolution and to the “diplomacy of freedom” practiced by George W. Bush. The Syrians made their way back in 2009, the price for the Obama administration’s “engaging” the dictatorships in Damascus and Tehran.
Next door in Iraq, on that same day, Izzat al-Douri, Saddam Hussein’s loyal henchman and a man on the run since the 2003 U.S. invasion, turned up in a videotaped message on Al Arabiya TV. The former Baath Party leader announced his support for his Sunni kinsmen, some of whom had taken to the streets of Anbar province and Baghdad to protest the rule of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Mr. Douri warned his Sunni brethren of a master plan, hatched by Mr. Maliki and his Shiite-controlled Dawa party, to “destroy Iraq and annex it to Iran.”
On Syria’s western border, in Lebanon, a country long in the orbit of Damascus, a Sunni community in hibernation has been stirred by the Syrian rebellion. Lebanon’s second-largest city, Tripoli, has turned into a battleground between Sunni and Alawite militias. The Sunnis can now glimpse the possibility of their own restoration in Lebanon, a challenge to the writ and dominion of Hezbollah.
A struggle rages for a large swath of the Fertile Crescent, perhaps the most serious challenge to the borders of that slice of the Arab world since the European map makers stood up the states of Syria, Iraq and Lebanon in the aftermath of World War I.
Syria is the pivot of this tangled political space, which runs from the borders of Iran to the Mediterranean. Bashar Assad, the young, ruthless dictator in Damascus, had been certain that his country would be spared the turmoil of the Arab Spring—indeed he had dismissed that tumult as a “soap bubble” sure to burst. (more…)
THE NEWS & OBSERVERSat, Sep 25, 2010
GOP stalks historic prize to control state legislature
CORNELIUS Rep. Thom Tillis’ cell phone rings to the tune of “Sunshine,” an old ’70s protest song that could be the anthem of his campaign to make N.C. history.
“This old world, she’s gonna turn around,” sings a voice. “Brand new bells’ll be ringing.”
The world Tillis and other Republicans are trying to turn around is the state legislature. Few are more single-minded in that effort than Tillis, the second-ranking House Republican.
Seventeen months ago, the Cornelius businessman quit his job as an IBM management consultant to devote himself full time to the effort. Since then he has worn out a set of tires on his Toyota pickup, traveling the state recruiting candidates and helping them hone issues and raise money.
“Very few people have the opportunity to do something that could change the course of history for the state,” says Tillis, 50. “This election without question is the most important in North Carolina since the Great Depression.”
Some analysts say Republicans – poised for big gains nationally – are well within reach of taking control of the House for the first time in more than a decade, and the Senate for the first time in more then a century. (more…)
Renee Ellmers was born in Ironwood in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula; when she was a child her family moved to Madison Heights, near Detroit, where her father took a job in the auto industry. He worked with General Motors until he retired.
After graduating from Madison High School, needing to work her way through college, Renee trained as a Medical Assistant. For the next eight years, working full and part-time jobs, she attended Oakland University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing.
A year later, working as a Surgical Intensive Care Nurse at Beaumont Hospital she met her husband, Brent, a graduate of the University Of Indiana School Of Medicine.
After their son was born, while visiting family in Cary, Renee and her husband decided to move to North Carolina. Today she works with her husband as Clinical Director of the Trinity Wound Care Center in Dunn.
Renee is active in community affairs, having served as Vice President of Community Development for the Chamber of Commerce and as President Elect of the Chamber for the coming year. She has also served on the Dunn Planning Board, the board of the Betsy Johnson Hospital Foundation and the Harnett County Nursing Home Committee.
She volunteers at Cape Fear Christian Academy where her son, Ben, is a student, and teaches Sunday school at Sacred Heart Catholic Church.
Last summer she and her husband attended a Town Hall meeting to hear Congressman Bob Etheridge speak on behalf of President Obama’s health care plan. Later, as a volunteer, she became an outspoken critic of government-run health care. She is now a candidate for Congress – opposing Congressman Etheridge – in North Carolina’s 2nd District.
Please visit her campaign website for more information and how you can help Renee for Congress