Obama’s Oslo Speech Was Right: Force Is Justified in Fighting Evil

I agree with Obama. Force is necessary at times to fight evil.

But what is “necessary” or “just” or justifiable force? Obama raises this in his Oslo speech, and we would do well to consider it. Justifiable force, most of us can probably agree, is that used in self-defense or to stop an assault on ourselves and our loved ones. And such assault we can define as evil.

By that definition Occupation is evil. And hence Obama the Occupier is evil.

We can fight back with violence if necessary against evil, and often that is the only way to win. Hence the Iraqis and Afghanis are in the right to use force against the American Occupation. Just as the Palestinians now and the Black South Africans earlier were in the right when they used violence against their Occupiers and Apartheid. And the Chinese revolution was in the right when it used force against the Western and Japanese Occupiers and against the murderous landlord class, which were killing Chinese by the millions. And so too the Indigenous peoples were right to fight back against the Europeans who conquered their lands, and the slaves of America were right to rise in rebellion against their masters. The American colonists were justified when they violently threw off the arbitrary rule of King George and his army of Occupation, in the same way as are Iraqi and AfPak freedom fighters today. Our Declaration of Independence, which recognizes this right, is not a pacifist document, and the anti-Empire movement cannot be pacifist either. Nor is the average American a pacifist, simply because pacifism does not mesh with the common sense idea of self-defense.

Let us add to that a rejection of the fiction that the US is in Central Asia to fight terrorism. The failure of liberals and the Democratic Party left, like Progressive Democrats of America, is that they accept this premise, a premise which figures prominently in Obama’s speech and a premise which is clearly a lie. Iraq did not have WMD, and the perpetrators of the war on Iraq knew that very well. So why the war? Many strands contributed to the war — the ambitions of the puppet master of much U.S. foreign policy, Israel, to wreak as much destruction as possible on Muslim lands; the desire to control energy resources so as to deprive the Empire’s economic competitors,1 principally China, of these energy supplies; and the desire to control Central Asia militarily and hence to encircle China and to a lesser extent Russia. In sum these wars are all about maintaining and extending the U.S. Empire’s world domination as dictated by official, public U.S. policy to allow no nation to eclipse it as number one. The war on Iraq was never about terrorism; and it is not believable that the war on AfPak is about that either. Both are directed at the Empire’s economic adversaries, especially China.

So Obama is not fighting evil. Obama is the leader of an Evil that must be fought. Evil on a grand scale like war is not something built into men’s brains but can emerge from great power which is given to certain men, notably the President of the U.S. at this point in history, by virtue of social and political arrangements. This view of things is that of the radical Left or that of a strict Jeffersonian. But it is also consistent with Libertarianism since Libertarianism views force justifiable against those who assault us or otherwise do us grievous or mortal harm.2

The U.S. Empire has set itself not just against the Muslim peoples but against many of the peoples of the world — including the people of the US itself. If all else fails in curbing this Empire, the peoples of the world are entirely justified in rising up against it. The “left” wing of the Democratic Party, Obama’s disappointed supporters, has proved useless or worse in curbing Empire. The next step will surely be an independent anti-imperial electoral effort, and we shall see whether that works. If it does not, the Declaration of Independence tells us what is likely to follow.

  1. Note that this is an economic not military competitor since there is no military power which can now compete with the US. []
  2. This is not so surprising since the Marxist view of the state and the Libertarian view are very much the same, no matter how much the two diverge on economic matters. []
John V. Walsh, @JohnWal97469920, until recently a Professor of Physiology and Neuroscience at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, has written on issues of peace and health care for several independent media. Read other articles by John V..

12 comments on this article so far ...

Comments RSS feed

  1. Michael Kenny said on December 15th, 2009 at 10:15am #

    “And so too the Indigenous peoples were right to fight back against the Europeans who conquered their lands, and the slaves of America were right to rise in rebellion against their masters. The American colonists were justified when they violently threw off the arbitrary rule of King George and his army of Occupation, in the same way as are Iraqi and AfPak freedom fighters today.”
    In those two sentences, Mr Walsh sums up (unwittingly, I fear) the entire hypocrisy of what might be called “Americanism”! What are modern white Americans if it is not the descendants of Europeans who invaded and stole the lands of the indigenous peoples of the continent? And since they were colonists from George III’s country, how can their own country’s army be an army of occupation? And the assimilation of white Americans to the peoples of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan is a gross racist insult to those peoples. And what is the difference between what the white colonists did in North America in 1776 and the UDI of the white Rhodeaisn colonists in 1964? The better to exploit the “natives”!
    European colonialism was an intrinsically and incurably evil thing and all the countries of the American continent are the fruit of that poisoned tree. Given the way in which it still projects power across the entire planet, the US is, for the moment, at least, the most evil manifestation of that poisoned fruit. Mr Walsh and others like him need to come down from the high horse of colonial racism and face up the fact that, like the Germans after WWII or the white South Africans, white Americans of earlier generation perpetrated a terrible evil and the present generation of Americans need to start thinking about repairing the damage to the limited extent that it can now be repared and not compounding the evil by swaggering up and down the planet as the purveyors of freedom.

  2. Ismail Zayid said on December 15th, 2009 at 11:19am #

    John Walsh sums it up perfectly. It is necessary and just to fight evil, as well-represened in those who commit aggression, illegal occupation and the theft of the land of the indigenous people, be that in North america, Palestine, Africa or anywhere in the world. People have a fundamental right to resist foreign occupation, as in the case of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. Obama should take note of that.

  3. bozh said on December 15th, 2009 at 1:47pm #

    I agree. And also say: Don’t allow uncle sam’s words, oops, obama’s, to enter ur brain. Or, rather, don’t evaluate ur meanings of obama’s words as his meanings.
    He means: US is always right! And by “US” he means not 98% of u but 0001 to 2% of u!
    It is simpler than some think: there is only one cause for all fires and all wars of aggression! How ab reasons? Well , it all depends on ur inventives and time; but probably one can do this proces till the grave.

    Obama and mns others are rendering the simplicity complex, hoping to persuade u to think of self as stupid and give up!
    It’s an old indian trick, too and not just hamurabbi’s or pharoah’s.

  4. onecansay said on December 15th, 2009 at 7:36pm #

    Where did white “peoples” originate? Maybe once this has been resolved the “whites” can once again reclaim “their homeland” and resist also.

    Do have a thought that the Roman Empire “invaded” Germania which displaced the “white” peoples at that time.

    “Britannia”, invaded by Roman Empire may be the “white homeland”. Scandinavia, which was and may still be the “white homeland”, was never invaded by the Roman Empire.

    Maybe the “whites” should just go home. Anyone care to say where that home is!

  5. Ben said on December 16th, 2009 at 12:19am #

    Who is to say what’s evil the big guys beating up the small guys
    for their land and natural resources or the small guy fighting
    them off?

  6. Deadbeat said on December 16th, 2009 at 1:59am #


    I would rather Shabnam respond to this article as I am not familiar with Iranian internal affairs. However the article seems to be written from a hegemonic point of view rather than from semblance of justice. For example Walt writes …

    In particular, bear in mind that a key goal of U.S. grand strategy has been to prevent any single power from dominating the oil-rich Persian Gulf.

    What business is that of the United States especially when the U.S. obtain most of its oil from Canada and Latin America.

    Also Walt engages in what I would deem as arrogant if not boardline racist rhetoric …

    It is rather to suggest that reform (or even revolution) in Iran is not a magic bullet that will suddenly cause all sources of friction to disagree, and to raise the possibility that a smarter and more capable Iran might turn out to be more of a challenge than the government we are dealing with today.

    Walt has Ahmadinejad done that could be deemed “not smater and less capable”? The fact that he pisses off Zionists? I saw Ahmadinejad expand his reach into Latin America and is forming alliances with Brazil (the largest Latin American economy) and has close relations with Venezuela — an OPEC member.

    Walt’s analysis view Ahmadinejad mostly from the perspective of Western hegemony. It is also hypocrisy to say the least when it was the United States that overthrew a democratically elected Iranian government in 1953 and installed the Shah, has troops in Iraq and Afghanistan with a faltering and despotic economy and supports a racist/Zionist regime to judge Iran.

  7. Hue Longer said on December 16th, 2009 at 3:09am #

    When discussing controlling oil, oil is oil and it doesn’t matter where from one is literally using it most

  8. Rehmat said on December 16th, 2009 at 6:31am #

    Well – different rulers will define “Just Wars” to legalize their fascism. India has been fighting such “Just Wars” against its persecuted minorities for decades.

    Telangana – India’s new state

  9. Jim said on December 16th, 2009 at 7:04am #

    From my experiences as an activist in the Sixties, I would hardly trust anyone from the so-called “progressive,” ” left,” or for that matter anyone else, to define for anyone else what is evil, and to justify the use of violence against those deemed evil thereby. Violence is a tempting solution, most often arising out of frustration and alienation, but history shows that such violence only creates more violence, and once it is started, there is no guarantee who is going to come out on top.

    In the Sixties, we were much taken by Marxism and the struggles of the peoples in the Third World. Violent revolution seemed to be a viable option. But looking back, where is there an historical example of a violent socialist revolution that did not result in a new gang of fascists taking over from the older repressive regimes, from Russia, to China, to Vietnam and North Korea and elsewhere.

    As I’ve said before on this website, anyone promoting violence is either a fool or an agent provocateur.

  10. eileen fleming said on December 16th, 2009 at 8:14am #

    The first and greatest heresy in the Christian faith occurred in the third century when Augustine penned the “Just War Theory” which gave the church’s OK to violence perpetuated by the empire and “our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system.”-Dorothy Day

    Clement, Tertillian, Polycarp and every other early Church Father taught that violence was a contradiction of what Christ was about, but as Gandhi commented, “Everyone but Christians understands that Jesus was nonviolent.”

    Christians were not a part of the military until the third century, when Emperor Constantine instituted Christianity as the State’s religion and required all soldiers to be baptized, but “How can you kill people, when it is written in God’s commandment: ‘Thou shall not murder’?”– Leo Tolstoy

    Obama made me tremble when he coolly claimed, “The world may no longer shudder at the prospect of war between two nuclear superpowers… Terrorism has long been a tactic, but modern technology allows a few small men with outsized rage to murder innocents on a horrific scale.”

    The prospect of war between a nuclear power and any other is even more horrific; and the thought of a war between two nuclear superpowers that would lead to the end of the world as we now know it, should horrify us all!

    The fact that a bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and two hundred thousand lives were vaporized within twenty minutes did not lead US to repent and abolish them, but to up the ante and fill Space with them.

    If that day we call 9/11 taught US anything, it is that our nuclear arsenal cannot keep us safe from a few angry violent men so without a conscience, that they could target and murder innocent ones.

    In Oslo, President Obama was mindful of Martin Luther King’s Nobel speech, but he made no mention of what his peer stated regarding Vietnam, “The true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence, is when it helps us to see the enemy’s point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.”

    In Oslo, Obama opined, “As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King’s life’s work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there is nothing weak, nothing passive, nothing naive in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King. But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is… that war is sometimes necessary, and war is at some level an expression of human feelings.”

    War is never necessary, but is an expression of the violence within an individual’s heart that inhabits a body with a mind that has failed to evolve and is thus blind to The Divine that indwells all beings and is within all of creation.

    In his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” King noted:

    Too long has The Peace Process been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.

    Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. We must come to see that justice too long delayed is justice denied.

    Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever and if repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history.

    Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

    Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives in the world can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

    Obama recalled President Kennedy’s call to “focus on a more practical, more attainable peace, based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions.”

    Institutions are often governed by those with hearts without compassion. Power renders many deaf, dumb and blind to the cries of the innocent caught in the crossfire of violence and to the many denied equal human rights and freedom due to war.

    Two weeks before Christmas, President Obama attempted to justify war by rationalizing state sponsored terrorism in his Nobel speech, but also said:

    “…the purpose of faith — for the one rule that lies at the heart of every major religion is that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Adhering to this law of love has always been the core struggle of human nature… we do not have to think that human nature is perfect for us to still believe that the human condition can be perfected. We do not have to live in an idealized world to still reach for those ideals that will make it a better place. The nonviolence practiced by men like Gandhi and King… the love that they preached — their faith in human progress — must always be the North Star that guides us on our journey.

    “For if we lose that faith — if we dismiss it as silly or naive, if we divorce it from the decisions that we make on issues of war and peace — then we lose what is best about humanity. We lose our sense of possibility. We lose our moral compass.”

    On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and called upon all Member countries to disseminate, display, and expound them. Israel’s statehood was contingent upon upholding them.

    We are in the last three weeks of the United Nations Decade of Creating a Culture of Nonviolence for All the Children of the World. America is on the record in the UN as abstaining because to support such an initiative would make it “too hard for us to go to war.”

    Hundreds of children have been killed by unmanned drones since Obama became president. America is connected to 35 wars being fought today and we have a nuclear arsenal of over 10,000 weapons with nearly 2,000 on hair-trigger alert. America has 150 – 240 tactical nuclear weapons based in 5 NATO countries and is the only country with nuclear weapons deployed on foreign soil. America is the only nation to have targeted, terrorized and murdered innocent people by deploying WMD.

    As FOX News bemoans a war on Christmas, let us recall that what we know for certain about Jesus was that he was born, lived and died under a brutal military occupation but practiced active, public, creative non-violence.

    Jesus taught that following him requires one must love all people, to be compassionate, nonjudgmental, to seek justice and to forgive in order to be forgiven.

    Jesus’ last words to his followers as the Roman occupying forces dragged him away were, ‘Put down the sword’.

    And that is when his followers and friends abandoned him and ran away; they realized he was deadly serious about non-violence.

    The only way to stop violence is to stop inflicting it. Violence cannot reap peace, but only lead to more of its own kind. No one, no state, no nation is justified in killing. Those who live by the sword, the gun, bomb, the nuclear weapon, will die by the sword, gun, bomb and nuclear weapon. War will never end terrorism because war is terrorism.

    And so, this is almost Christmas, and isn’t it time we all evolve or an eye for an eye will blind us all.

  11. bozh said on December 16th, 2009 at 9:32am #

    Jesus nonviolent? He said or smone said it for him: I came to uphold the law and prophets! This means he approbated alleged genocide of the canaanities and laws of the torah.
    But, then, bible and torah are full of vacuities, contradictions, condemnations, namecalling, vengeance, hatred, intolerance, threats and which make my blood curdle! tnx

  12. Danny Ray said on December 16th, 2009 at 1:05pm #

    Matthew 10:34
    34 Do not think that I have come to bring peace on the earth; I have not 1come to bring peace, but a sword.

    Luke 22:49
    And He said to them, But now, let him who has a purse take it, likewise also a bag; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.
    John 18:10
    10 Then Simon Peter, having a asword, drew it and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear; and the slave’s name was Malchus.
    Romans 13:4
    4 For he is a servant of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, fear; he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is a servant of God, an avenger for wrath to him who practices evil.

    Christ knew what evil was an that it has to struck down when it rears its head.