Earlier this week, Charles Krauthammer delivered the 2009 Wriston Lecture for the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. Titled “Decline Is a Choice,” the Weekly Standard has adopted that lecture and published it in the forthcoming issue. (A video of the full lecture can be found here.) It is a brilliant and important address, providing as it does a kind of unified field theory when it comes to Obama.
In his address, Krauthammer says,
as he made his hajj from Strasbourg to Prague to Ankara to Istanbul to Cairo and finally to the U.N. General Assembly, Obama drew the picture of an America quite exceptional — exceptional in moral culpability and heavy-handedness, exceptional in guilt for its treatment of other nations and peoples. With varying degrees of directness or obliqueness, Obama indicted his own country for arrogance, for dismissiveness and derisiveness (toward Europe), for maltreatment of natives, for torture, for Hiroshima, for Guantánamo, for unilateralism, and for insufficient respect for the Muslim world.
That, in two sentences, explains why Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize today. Now the Nobel Committee couldn’t quite come out and say that directly; it decided to couch the award in this language, taken from the citation: “[Obama’s] diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.”
There you have it: Barack Obama has given voice to what many of the world think about America — and it’s not flattering. That much of the world — composed as it is of autocrats and dictators and weak and wobbly defenders of human rights and human dignity — isn’t happy with the United States is not news. What is news is that an American president would validate many of those charges. I find that deeply disquieting. The Norwegian Nobel Committee, not surprisingly, considers it worthy of its highest honor.