The Corner

National Security & Defense

The Worst Lines in Obama’s Terrible Speech to the U.N.

President Obama actually had the audacity to say this:

No matter how powerful our military, how strong our economy, we understand the United States cannot solve the world’s problems alone. In Iraq, the United States learned the hard lesson that even hundreds of thousands of brave, effective troops, trillions of dollars from our Treasury, cannot by itself impose stability on a foreign land. Unless we work with other nations under the mantle of international norms and principles and law that offer legitimacy to our efforts, we will not succeed. And unless we work together to defeat the ideas that drive different communities in a country like Iraq into conflict, any order that our militaries can impose will be temporary.

No, Mr. President, in Iraq we learned that the hard-earned gains of “hundreds of thousands of brave, effective troops” can be thrown away by a precipitous, politically-expedient withdrawal — just as they were when we withdrew from Vietnam, just as they would have been if we’d withdrawn from South Korea, and just as they would have been had we left Europe alone to face the Red Army after World War II. If we abandon our allies, then of course our military gains are “temporary.”

For his entire presidency, Obama has sought to bring so-called “legitimacy” to American efforts through “international norms and principles of law” that hamstring our military and display weakness to enemies and allies alike. The consequence is a jihadist threat several orders of magnitude greater than the threat that existed when he came into office, a Middle East in chaos, parts of the Ukraine in flames, and Russia now acting as the prime power broker in the Middle East. 

By the way, we were never “alone” in Iraq. I distinctly remember (and enjoyed) my interaction with British and Australian troops. I saw them. They were there. And we also had Kurdish and other Iraqi allies — people that we abandoned when we left. Obama can’t be allowed to rewrite history.

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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