For anyone who thinks that philosophy is not important, consider Obama's speech last night at West Point in which he announced his decision to commit more troops in Afghanistan - and then withdraw them. The assembled cadets and the entire nation was exposed to a full frontal of his warped epistemology as he haplessly stumped through this morass of contradiction. Writing for Spiegel, Gabor Steingart describes the speech:
Amidst his tangled web of non sequiturs and vacuous platitudes, one might be tempted to ask: just what is the goal of America's foreign policy? Who is the enemy and why? How do we measure success? What are the rules of engagement? What lessons can be learned from history?
Extremists kill in the name of Islam, he said, before adding that it is one of the "world's great religions." He promised that responsibility for the country's security would soon be transferred to the government of President Hamid Karzai -- a government which he said was "corrupt." The Taliban is dangerous and growing stronger. But "America will have to show our strength in the way that we end wars," he added.
It was a dizzying combination of surge and withdrawal, of marching to and fro. The fast pace was reminiscent of plays about the French revolution: Troops enter from the right to loud cannon fire and then they exit to the left. And at the end, the dead are left on stage.
Obama's pathological pragmatism does not allow him to even ask such questions. To the pragmatist, there are no absolutes. There is no right and wrong. To the post modern intellectual, history can only be viewed through the lens of gender, race, and ethnicity. What was true fifty, a hundred or even a thousand years ago can not possibly be relevant today. Obama was serious when he told us that he rejects ideology in favor of action. Now, the nation and the world will pay the price for heeding the lessons of America's philosophy professors.
Unfortunately, America's dead soldiers, the ultimate tribute to modern philosophy, will not be actors left on a stage.