Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Obama’s 2nd inaugural address: ‘Peace in our time’? Really, Mr. President?

During the summer, the Best Defense is in re-runs. Here are some favorites that ran in late 2012 and in 2013. This item originally ran on Jan. 22, 2013. 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 ...

Wikimedia
Wikimedia
Wikimedia

During the summer, the Best Defense is in re-runs. Here are some favorites that ran in late 2012 and in 2013. This item originally ran on Jan. 22, 2013.

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.

During the summer, the Best Defense is in re-runs. Here are some favorites that ran in late 2012 and in 2013. This item originally ran on Jan. 22, 2013.

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.

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.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

More from Foreign Policy

A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.
A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.

Lessons for the Next War

Twelve experts weigh in on how to prevent, deter, and—if necessary—fight the next conflict.

An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It’s High Time to Prepare for Russia’s Collapse

Not planning for the possibility of disintegration betrays a dangerous lack of imagination.

An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.
An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.

Turkey Is Sending Cold War-Era Cluster Bombs to Ukraine

The artillery-fired cluster munitions could be lethal to Russian troops—and Ukrainian civilians.

A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol  January 8, 2009 in Washington.
A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol January 8, 2009 in Washington.

Congrats, You’re a Member of Congress. Now Listen Up.

Some brief foreign-policy advice for the newest members of the U.S. legislature.