A veteran and author of a new book analyzing the importance of President Teddy Roosevelt’s “Citizenship in a Republic” speech, argued that President Barack Obama’s foreign policy does not prioritize U.S. interests because Obama primarily views himself as a “citizen of the world.”
“It’s in his blood to sort of not believe in America as a force for good,” Pete Hegseth, author of In The Arena, told CNSNews.com as he referenced Obama’s career in academia and politics.
“I’m not saying he doesn’t appreciate America. I’m saying his international feelings swamp his domestic feelings, which is what Roosevelt wrote about,” Hegseth said.
Obama “was a radical throughout his entire academic career, his political career. He made a name opposing the Iraq War and the Iraq surge, even though the surge was successful,” the former executive director of Concerned Veterans for Freedom, a military advocacy group, told CNSNews.com.
Hegseth’s remarks were made Monday at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. following a discussion of his new book on the importance of Roosevelt's famous speech, which he delivered at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1910.
A veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and an on-air Fox News Channel contributor, Hegseth linked aspects of Roosevelt’s speech to Obama’s presidency and his handling of U.S. interests on the global stage.
"Today, we have, as Roosevelt warns about in his speech, the first president of the United States who considers himself first a citizen of the world,” he asserted. "And Roosevelt talked about that in 1910, warning against those who see themselves first as citizens of the world, whose international feeling for humanity swamps national feeling.
“In fact, he said citizens of the world are usually the worst citizens of their own country because they point out a humanity, and the amorphous things that we can do for them, without focusing on what makes, in the republic’s case, their country great and why it’s worth fighting for,” Hegseth continued.
In his speech, Roosevelt said:
"I believe that a man must be a good patriot before he can be, and as the only possible way of being, a good citizen of the world. Experience teaches us that the average man who protests that his international feeling swamps his national feeling, that he does not care for his country because he cares so much for mankind, in actual practice proves himself the foe of mankind; that the man who says that he does not care to be a citizen of any one country, because he is the citizen of the world, is in fact usually and exceedingly undesirable citizen of whatever corner of the world he happens at the moment to be in."
Likening Obama’s doctrine of “engagement” to the ubiquitous multi-theistic “Coexist” bumper sticker, Hegseth criticized his administration’s foreign policy.
“It's not that coexisting is bad. Coexisting is good. But coexisting is a means, not an ends. Just like engagement is a means, not an ends,” the author argued.
"And so what you have is a series of progressive elites who went to school at places like Princeton and Harvard, and a lot of us know a lot of little Obamas, wonderful people, but big believers in the state. big believers in humanity and what we can accomplish if we just build another international institution.
"Except they're eventually forced to emerge from their utopian ideological cocoons, from their safe spaces, from their trigger warnings, and from their solidarity marches. And what happens when the world still doesn't want to coexist with a leader as progressive and culturally sensitive as Obama?...They try to coexist with a dangerous, fallen, backward world and surprise, surprise, it doesn't work."
“So the result over the last seven years. what do we get? An incoherent maze of interventions, noninterventions, surges and withdrawals, negotiations, high-stake raids, and it's utterly incoherent and unknowable because America's leadership doesn't believe in America. It doesn’t believe in the use of American power as a tool for freedom and security in the world,"
Hegseth, who earned two Bronze Stars, according to a professional biography online, said the U.S. should be "the world’s sheriff.”
“We need to unapologetically lead. Be willing to acknowledge that without America, there is no leader of the free world. And again, it doesn’t mean we have to be the policeman in every corner, but we better be the world’s sheriff with the big, shiny badge willing to say our security and our interests are important to us... and we'll back up our allies and we will stand up to our enemies,” including "unleashing hell" on the Islamic State.
“It’s interesting to watch him [Obama] do his interview with The Atlantic and proclaiming that him not enforcing the red line in Syria was his proudest moment when you look at the carnage and anarchy that is Syria,” Hegseth told CNSNews following the book discussion.
During that interview Obama said:
“I’m very proud of this moment. The overwhelming weight of conventional wisdom and the machinery of our national-security apparatus has gone fairly far. The perception was that my credibility was at stake, that America’s credibility was at stake. And so for me to push the pause button at that moment, I knew, would cost me politically. And the fact that I was about to pull back from the immediate pressures and think through in my own mind what was in America’s interest, not only with respect to Syria but also with respect to our democracy, was as tough a decision as I’ve made — and I believe ultimately it was the right decision to make.”
“It’s not to say that he would have entirely prevented it, but for that restraint to be your proudest moment is difficult to absorb when the whole world red signals to that ambivalence, whether it’s Russia, whether it’s other [countries], and then they say ‘Well, America, its word doesn’t mean what it used to mean.’ That has ripple effects.
“Yeah, I think he’s been a foreign policy disaster.”
The title of Hegseth’s book is borrowed from an oft-quoted excerpt from Roosevelt’s “Citizenship in a Republic” speech:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood... if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”