Obama's Speech

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Okay, so I'm getting to this late, but I do have to wonder about these lines from Obama's Afghanistan speech on Tuesday night.  This part comes toward the end, when he's talking about the moral authority of the U.S.:

For unlike the great powers of old, we have not sought world domination. Our union was founded in resistance to oppression. We do not seek to occupy other nations. We will not claim another nation’s resources or target other peoples because their faith or ethnicity is different from ours. What we have fought for — and what we continue to fight for — is a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if other peoples’ children and grandchildren can live in freedom and access opportunity.
Sitting there listening and watching, I was like, "Nuh-uh.  He did not just say that."  Because of course, "[o]ur union was founded" precisely by means of the successful attempt "to occupy other nations."  That's exactly what happened.  The founders of the United States did indeed "claim another nation's resources"--and not just the resources of the first nations of the North American continent but also the human resources of multiple African nations.  They claimed these resources--land, materials, and human labor--by means of lethal force and the imposition of tremendous suffering. 

Yes, "our union was founded in resistance to oppression"--for some.  Not for all.  For some, it was founded precisely upon oppression, to the point of genocide.

And really, to say "we have not sought world domination"--does that square with every epoch of American foreign policy as you remember it?  If our government and/or populace has ever wanted to be the single superpower in terms of military and economic might, doesn't that count as "domination"? 

Come on, Barack.  I'm all on board with the restoration of the United States' moral position in the world via the re-abolition of torture and so on, but let's not erase or distort our national past for the exigencies of the moment.  Your speeches matter.  Don't pretty stuff up.



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