Obama: People Need Perspective; There's Less Violence Around The World Than 40 Years Ago

April 21, 2015

President Obama said he wanted Americans to gain perspective and be thankful there is less violence now than there was during the Cold War.

Obama predicted Islam’s process to rid itself of extremism would be a "generational project," he said in an interview with Chris Matthews.

"I remind people that, you know, there actually is probably less war and less violence around the world today than there might have been 30, 40 years ago. It doesn't make it any less painful but things can get better," Obama said.

The president set a high standard for himself: at least the United States is not involved in another Cold War. Obama did not compare his time in the White House with that of his predecessors. Instead, he portrayed his six years in a more promising point of view by contrasting it with some of the most violent and politically complex times in modern world history.

The 30 to 40 years Obama referred to covers the span of 1975 to 1985, during which, the United States engaged the Soviet Union in a number of proxy wars and the world lived in fear of all-out nuclear war.

Fresh off of the resignation of its president, the United States was embroiled in war in Vietnam and Cambodia that proved politically toxic back home. The American military was called upon to Zaire, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Korea, El Salvador, Iran, Libya, the Sinai, Egypt, Granada, Honduras, and Chad.

President Obama’s statement was factually correct: There is not as much war today as there was during some of the world’s darkest times.

However, the world, especially the Middle East, is stuck in regional turmoil. Putin’s aggression in Crimea highlighted the worst relations have been with Russia since the Soviet Union collapsed. The Russian reset has been deemed a failure. The United States has witnessed anarchy in regions where Obama has decided to "lead from behind." Libya, Syria, Oman, Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen have all become failed states during Obama’s presidency. Our relationships with important allies, such as Israel, have deteriorated.

Obama’s comments can be seen as an acknowledgement that conditions around the world are not great. As President Obama noted, however, "things can get better."