Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

There Is No Political Realism in Utopia

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Perhaps I’m a broken record, but I’m still having trouble understanding how a defense of American militarism that positions war as an inescapable fact of human nature possibly works as a Peace Prize lecture. Doesn’t this

Like generations have before us, we must reject that future. As Dr. King said at this occasion so many years ago, “I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the ‘isness’ of man’s present condition makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal ‘oughtness’ that forever confronts him.”

discredit this

I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism — it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.

decades in advance?

The Peace Prize is fundamentally aspirational and (yes) even Utopian; Obama refuses both aspiration and Utopia in favor of a political realism that is essentially indistinguishable from his postwar predecessors. This may be the outlook an American president currently waging two wars of occupation in the Third World needs to have—but it doesn’t make him a good recipient for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Of course, the staff of The New Republic can’t get over how much they loved it.

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