15 June 2009 — William Blum
The praise heaped on President Obama for his speech to the Muslim world by writers on the left, both here and abroad, is disturbing. I’m referring to people who I think should know better, who’ve taken Politics 101 and can easily see the many hypocrisies in Obama‘s talk, as well as the distortions, omissions, and contradictions, the true but irrelevant observations, the lies, the optimistic words without any matching action, the insensitivities to victims. Yet, these commentators are impressed, in many cases very impressed. In the world at large, this frame of mind borders on a cult.
In such cases one must look beyond the intellect and examine the emotional appeal. We all know the world is in big trouble — Three Great Problems: universal, incessant violence; financial crisis provoking economic suffering; environmental degradation. In all three areas the United States bears more culpability than any other single country. Who better to satisfy humankind’s craving for relief than a new American president who, it appears, understands the problems; admits, to one degree or another, his country’s responsibility for them; and “eloquently” expresses his desire and determination to change US policies and embolden the rest of the world to follow his inspiring example. Is it any wonder that it’s 1964, the Beatles have just arrived in New York, and everyone is a teenage girl?
I could go through the talk Obama gave in Cairo and point out line by line the hypocrisies, the mere platitudes, the plain nonsense, and the rest. (“I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States.” — No mention of it being outsourced, probably to the very country he was speaking in, amongst others. … “No single nation should pick and choose which nation holds nuclear weapons.” — But this is precisely what the United States is trying to do concerning Iran and North Korea.) But since others have been pointing out these lies very well I’d like to try something else in dealing with the problem — the problem of well-educated people, as well as the not so well-educated, being so moved by a career politician saying “all the right things” to give food for hope to billions starving for it, and swallowing it all as if they had been born yesterday. I’d like to take them back to another charismatic figure, Adolf Hitler, speaking to the German people two years and four months after becoming Chancellor, addressing a Germany still reeling with humiliation from its being The Defeated Nation in the World War, with huge losses of its young men, still being punished by the world for its militarism, suffering mass unemployment and other effects of the great depression. Here are excerpts from the speech of May 21, 1935. Imagine how it fed the hungry German people.
I conceive it my duty to be perfectly frank and open in addressing the nation. I frequently hear from Anglo-Saxon tribes expressions of regret that Germany has departed from those principles of democracy, which in those countries are held particularly sacred. This opinion is entirely erroneous. Germany, too, has a democratic Constitution.
Our love of peace perhaps is greater than in the case of others, for we have suffered most from war. None of us wants to threaten anybody, but we all are determined to obtain the security and equality of our people.
The World War should be a cry of warning here. Not for a second time can Europe survive such a catastrophe.
Germany has solemnly guaranteed France her present frontiers, resigning herself to the permanent loss of Alsace-Lorraine. She has made a treaty with Poland and we hope it will be renewed and renewed again at every expiry of the set period.
The German Reich, especially the present German Government, has no other wish except to live on terms of peace and friendship with all the neighboring States.
Germany has nothing to gain from a European war. What we want is liberty and independence. Because of these intentions of ours we are ready to negotiate non-aggression pacts with our neighbor States.
Germany has neither the wish nor the intention to mix in internal Austrian affairs, or to annex or to unite with Austria.
The German Government is ready in principle to conclude non-aggression pacts with its individual neighbor States and to supplement those provisions which aim at isolating belligerents and localizing war areas.
In limiting German air armament to parity with individual other great nations of the west, it makes possible that at any time the upper figure may be limited, which limit Germany will then take as a binding obligation to keep within.
Germany is ready to participate actively in any efforts for drastic limitation of unrestricted arming. She sees the only possible way in a return to the principles of the old Geneva Red Cross convention. She believes, to begin with, only in the possibility of the gradual abolition and outlawing of fighting methods which are contrary to this convention, such as dum-dum bullets and other missiles which are a deadly menace to civilian women and children.
To abolish fighting places, but to leave the question of bombardment open, seems to us wrong and ineffective. But we believe it is possible to ban certain arms as contrary to international law and to outlaw those who use them. But this, too, can only be done gradually. Therefore, gas and incendiary and explosive bombs outside of the battle area can be banned and the ban extended later to all bombing. As long as bombing is free, a limitation of bombing planes is a doubtful proposition. But as soon as bombing is branded as barbarism, the building of bombing planes will automatically cease.
Just as the Red Cross stopped the killing of wounded and prisoners, it should be possible to stop the bombing of civilians. In the adoption of such principles, Germany sees a better means of pacification and security for peoples than in all the assistance pacts and military conventions.
The German Government is ready to agree to every limitation leading to abandonment of the heaviest weapons which are especially suitable for aggression. These comprise, first, the heaviest artillery and heaviest tanks.
Germany declares herself ready to agree to the delimitation of caliber of artillery and guns on dreadnoughts, cruisers and torpedo boats. Similarly, the German Government is ready to adopt any limitation on naval tonnage, and finally to agree to the limitation of tonnage of submarines or even to their abolition, provided other countries do likewise.
The German Government is of the opinion that all attempts effectively to lessen tension between individual States through international agreements or agreements between several States are doomed to failure unless suitable measures are taken to prevent poisoning of public opinion on the part of irresponsible individuals in speech, writing, in the film and the theatre. The German Government is ready any time to agree to an international agreement which will effectively prevent and make impossible all attempts to interfere from the outside in affairs of other States. The term ‘interference’ should be internationally defined.
If people wish for peace it must be possible for governments to maintain it. We believe the restoration of the German defense force will contribute to this peace because of the simple fact that its existence removes a dangerous vacuum in Europe. We believe if the peoples of the world could agree to destroy all their gas and inflammable and explosive bombs this would be cheaper than using them to destroy one another. In saying this I am not speaking any longer as the representative of a defenseless State which could reap only advantages and no obligations from such action from others.
I cannot better conclude my speech to you, my fellow-figures and trustees of the nation, than by repeating our confession of faith in peace: Whoever lights the torch of war in Europe can wish for nothing but chaos. We, however, live in the firm conviction our times will see not the decline but the renaissance of the West. It is our proud hope and our unshakable belief Germany can make an imperishable contribution to this great work.
— End of speech excerpts —
How many people in the world, including numerous highly educated Germans, reading or hearing that speech in 1935, doubted that Adolf Hitler was a sincere man of peace and an inspiring, visionary leader?
1. The entire speech can be found at: http://members.tripod.com/~Comicism/350521.html