Ed Driscoll

The President's Epic Internet Fail

At National Review Online, Nick Schulz, my former editor at Tech Central Station, unpacks yet another Kinsley-esque gaffe Mr. Obama made in his July 13th speech, which gives us further insight into his far left worldview. Obama said, “Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.” In response, Nick writes:

Here it’s worth remembering what motivated the creation of ARPANET, a packet-switching network that formed the foundation of the early Internet. There’s no way to sugarcoat it: It was the desire to be able to annihilate America’s enemies in a nuclear holocaust.

The Pentagon of the 1960s needed a communications network that could survive a nuclear first strike by the Soviets and enable the Pentagon to send signals to its distributed installations in order to launch nuclear weapons in retaliation.

In other words, the creation of ARPANET was part of the nation’s critical investment in national-security and defense systems. Indeed, the modern commercial Net as we know it was an accidental spillover from this national-security project. The notion that it was done “so that all the companies could make money off the Internet” is bizarre.

But entirely consistent with a president who thinks that the Cold War just happened to magically unwind, as he inferred in the speech he made to Berliners as a candidate in 2008. Or as Rich Lowry wrote at Real Clear Politics the following year, when Obama, now ensconced in the White House, snubbed Angela Merkel’s invitation to attend the ceremonies marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall:

Obama’s failure to go to Berlin is the most telling nonevent of his presidency. It’s hard to imagine any other American president eschewing the occasion. Only Obama – with his dismissive view of the Cold War as a relic distorting our thinking and his attenuated commitment to America’s exceptional role in the world – would spurn German president Angela Merkel’s invitation to attend.

Obama famously made a speech in Berlin during last year’s campaign, but at an event devoted to celebrating himself as the apotheosis of world hopefulness. He said of 1989, “a wall came down, a continent came together, and history proved that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one.”

The line was typical Obama verbal soufflé, soaring but vulnerable to collapse upon the slightest jostling from logic or historical fact. The wall came down only after the free world resolutely stood against the Communist bloc. Rather than a warm-and-fuzzy exercise in global understanding, the Cold War was another iteration of the 20th century’s long war between totalitarianism and Western liberalism. The West prevailed on the back of American strength.

But Obama doesn’t think in such antiquated, triumphalist terms. Given to apologizing for his nation abroad, he resolutely downplays American leadership. “President Obama is applying the same tools to international diplomacy that he used as a community organizer on Chicago’s South Side,” the Washington Post notes, approaching “the world as a community of nations, more alike than different in outlook and interest.” To the extent that the Cold War doesn’t fit this unbelievably naïve worldview, it’s an intellectual inconvenience.

But as we’re seeing this month, there are many intellectual inconveniences that don’t fit into Mr. Obama’s unbelievably naïve worldview.