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Saturday, August 13, 2022
HomeOpinionIs Obama’s World a Utopian Myth?

Is Obama’s World a Utopian Myth?

U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at Maximos Palace in Athens, Greece November 15, 2016. (PHOTO: REUTERS)
U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at Maximos Palace in Athens, Greece November 15, 2016. (PHOTO: REUTERS)

U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at Maximos Palace in Athens, Greece November 15, 2016. (PHOTO: REUTERS)

Speaking in Greece on his valedictory trip to Europe as president, Barack Obama struck a familiar theme: “(W)e are going to have to guard against a rise in a crude form of nationalism, or ethnic identity, or tribalism that is built around an ‘us’ and a ‘them’ …

“(T)he future of humanity and the future of the world is going to be defined by what we have in common, as opposed to those things that separate us and ultimately lead us into conflict.”

That the world’s great celebrant of “diversity” envisions an even more multicultural, multiethnic, multiracial America and Europe is not news. This dream has animated his presidency.

But in this day of Brexit and president-elect Donald Trump new questions arise. Is Obama’s vision a utopian myth? Have leaders like him and Angela Merkel lost touch with reality? Are not they the ones who belong to yesterday, not tomorrow?

“Crude nationalism,” as Obama said, did mark that “bloodiest” of centuries, the 20th. But nationalism has also proven to be among mankind’s most powerful, beneficial and enduring forces.

You cannot wish it away. To do that is to deny history, human nature and the transparent evidence of one’s own eyes.

A sense of nationhood — “I am not a Virginian, but an American,” said Patrick Henry — ignited our revolution.

Nationalism tore apart the “evil empire” of Ronald Reagan’s depiction, liberating Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians, Romanians and Bulgarians, and breaking apart the Soviet Union into 15 nations.

Was that so terrible for mankind?

Nationalism brought down the Berlin Wall and led to reunification of the German people after 45 years of separation and Cold War.

President George H.W. Bush may have railed against “suicidal nationalism” in Kiev in 1991. But Ukrainians ignored him and voted to secede. Now the Russified minorities of the southeast and the Crimea wish to secede from Ukraine and rejoin the Mother Country.

This is the way of the world.

Out of the carcass of Yugoslavia came Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo. As nationalism called into existence Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia, it impelled South Ossetians and Abkhazians to secede from Georgia.

Was it not a sense of peoplehood, of nationhood, that drove the Jews to create Israel in 1948, which today insists that it be recognized as “a Jewish State”?

All over the world, regimes are marshaling the mighty force of ethnonationalism to strengthen and sustain themselves.

With economic troubles looming, Xi Jinping is stirring up Chinese nationalism by territorial disputes with neighbors — to hold together a people who have ceased to believe in the secularist faith of Marxism-Leninism.

With Communism dead, Vladimir Putin invokes the greatness and glory of the Russian past and seeks to revive the Orthodox faith.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan invokes nationalism, Attaturk, the Ottoman Empire, and the Islamic faith of his people, against the Kurds, who dream of a new nation carved out of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

“So my vision … may not always win the day in the short run,” Obama said in Greece, “but I am confident it will win the day in the long run. Because societies which are able to unify ourselves around values and ideals and character and how we treat each other, and cooperation and innovation, ultimately are going to be more successful than societies that don’t.”

What is wrong with this statement?

It is a utilitarian argument that does not touch the heart. It sounds like a commune, a cooperative, a corporation, as much as it does a country. Moreover, not only most of the world, but even the American people seem to be moving the other way.

Indeed, what values and ideals do we Americans hold in common when Obama spoke in Germany of “darker forces” opposing his trade policies, and Hillary Clinton calls Trump supporters “racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic, Islamophobic … bigots.”

Did not the Democrats just run “an us and a them” campaign?

Less and less do we Americans seem to be one country and one people. More and more do we seem to be separating along religious, racial, cultural, political, ideological, social and economic lines.

If a more multicultural, multiethnic America produces greater unity and comity, why have American politics become so poisonous?

Trump’s victory is due in part to his stand for securing the U.S. border against foreigners walking in. Merkel is in trouble in Germany because she brought in almost a million Muslim refugees from Syria.

The nationalist parties that have arisen across Europe are propelled by hostility to more immigration from the Third World.

Outside the cosmopolitan elites of Europe and North America, where in the West is the enthusiasm Obama detects for a greater diversity of races, tribes, religions, cultures and beliefs?

“Who owns the future?” is ever the question.

In 2008, Obama talked of Middle Pennsylvanians as poor losers clinging to their bibles, bigotries and guns as they passed from the scene.

Yet, now, it’s looking like it may be Obama’s world headed for the proverbial ash heap of history.

Written by
Columnist

Pat Buchanan has been a senior adviser to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. From 1966 through 1974, Buchanan was a confidant and assistant to Richard Nixon. From 1985 to 1987, he was the White House Director of Communications for Ronald Reagan. In 1992, Buchanan challenged George H. W. Bush for the Republican nomination and almost upset the president in the New Hampshire primary. In 1996, he won New Hampshire and finished second to Sen. Robert Dole with 3 million Republican votes. Buchanan was born in Washington, D.C., educated at Catholic and Jesuit schools, and received his master's degree in journalism from Columbia in 1962. At 23, he became the youngest editorial writer on a major newspaper in America, The St. Louis Globe-Democrat. In 1966, Buchanan became the first full-time staff member in the legendary comeback of Richard Nixon. He traveled with the future president in the campaigns of 1966 and 1968, and served as special assistant to the president from his first day in office through the final days of Watergate. On leaving the White House, Buchanan became a columnist and founding father of three of the most enduring talk shows in TV history: "The McLaughlin Group," CNN's "Capital Gang" and "Crossfire." In 2002, he joined MSNBC where he remained for ten years. In his White House years, Buchanan wrote foreign policy speeches and attended four summits, including Nixon's opening to China in 1972 and Reagan's Geneva and Reykjavik summits with Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985 and 1986. Buchanan has written 12 books, including seven New York Times best-sellers: "A Republic Not an Empire," "Death of the West," "Where the Right Went Wrong," "State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America," "Day of Reckoning," "Churchill, Hitler and The Unnecessary War,” and "Suicide of a Superpower,” as well as a Washington Post 1988 best-seller about growing up in the nation's capital, "Right From the Beginning." He is married to the former Shelley Ann Scarney, a member of the White House staff from 1969 to 1975.

Latest comments

  • @TheMassesAwaken Worse, it’s a dystopian reality.

  • Utopia is impossible & more improbable when its architects are corrupt & trying to suppress free thought and speech.

  • Point out difference between the intentional malicious denial of a lie, a Utopian myth. Thomas More’s “Utopia” sketched a place where he had never been: a myth, even Commies were inspired by this book. Obama knows well the wreckage of socialist countries, the hell for their populations, & still thinks twisted evil ideology is likely to cheat naïve “dreamers” & comfort irredeemible mediocres, so to win elections?

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