- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.
The WTF moment for me in Obama’s second inaugural address, delivered Monday at noon, was his use of the phrase "peace in our time." This came during his discussion of foreign policy, and in such circles, that phrase is a synonym for appeasement, especially of Hitler by Neville Chamberlain in September 1938. What signal does his using it send to Iran? I hope he was just using it to jerk Netanyahu’s chain.
I also simply didn’t understand what he meant by "a world without boundaries." But my immediate thought was, No, right now we need boundaries — like those meant to keep Iran out of Syria and Pakistan out of Afghanistan.
Two things I did like:
- His emphasis on "the rule of law" in foreign policy. Now if we could officially renounce torture as U.S. government policy, and hold a truth commission on the issue. If only people who supposedly believe in the rule of law could bring the energy to this that they brought to Benghazi.
- His comment that "our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it."
Overall, I’d give it a C-. It wasn’t a terrible speech, but I am grading on the curve because I have seen him do so much better. Overall, the rhetoric seemed tired, like second-rate Kennedyisms, which may reflect the pack of Hill rats and political hacks staffing the White House. It made me wonder if the president is depressed. I mean, I wouldn’t blame him. But not a happy thought.
Daniel W. Drezner is professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a senior editor at The National Interest. Prior to Fletcher, he taught at the University of Chicago and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Drezner has received fellowships from the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the Council on Foreign Relations, and Harvard University. He has previously held positions with Civic Education Project, the RAND Corporation, and the Treasury Department.| Daniel W. Drezner |