Hillary Clinton made a very sound argument during the Democrat primaries three years ago. The million dollar question she asked in her desperate comeback attempt was – “Who do you want answering the phone at 3:00 am when there is a crisis?” Ultimately Democrats answered Clinton’s question by choosing the smooth-talking yet inexperienced Barack Obama as their fearless leader. Now with the world on fire and a new crisis springing up every week you must wonder if the words “I told you so” are running through Clinton’s mind.
The actions taken by President Obama over the past few months have given his critics a considerable amount of evidence to argue that he is in over his head. Each day the President’s action, inaction, and attitude towards the various crisis situations throughout the world seems to prove that having a resume as community organizer with zero executive experience is not enough to prepare you for the White House where strong and engaged leadership is required.
In all fairness I do acknowledge that Obama does posses leadership skills in certain areas. After all, he did successfully push through a radical liberal agenda through Congress during his first two years in office, including stimulus bills, financial reform, and most notably ObamaCare. The President’s liberal team did their part to ensure those progressive legislative bills became law, but it is unfair to discount Obama’s leadership role in helping rally the votes when some Democrats were became weak in the knees. It is also important to point out that all of those items reflect social reforms – something Obama is deeply passionate about. But where did all of this leadership skill go when foreign affairs become America’s top concern?
Obama has shown us that when he cares about a situation he will react swiftly. Sometimes that has lead to his advantage such as when he canceled his planned trip to Indonesia to make sure that Congress passed ObamaCare. More recently the President jumped into Wisconsin’s budget battle by lending his political machine to local activists and verbally condemning Governor Walker’s actions. The President has at other times let his opinion get ahead of logic such as when he criticized Cambridge police for “acting stupidly” while admitting that had not seen all the facts. It is in those cases and numerous others where Obama has shown Americans that he can and will act quickly when it involves something he cares about.
Fast decisions are required of any leader when disaster strikes. The point Clinton was trying to make in her 3AM video ad was that Obama’s lack of executive experience is proof that he is not ready for the nation’s top job . To her the choice was clear on who could handle a crisis better, but with a phrase like “hope and change” mesmerizing audiences across the country Clinton didn’t stand a chance.
Anyone that has been keeping up with current events with an open mind over the past two months has almost certainly noticed a different attitude with Obama’s handling of foreign affairs. When it came to ObamaCare or one of the other pieces of social legislation laws the President was supporting, for the most part he made his objective and reasoning clear. Whether or not he was being truthful is another story, but at least Obama made the argument for his agenda. However, that does not seem to be the case with Obama when it comes to the crisis that has lit up the Middle East. You make the decision if Obama’s handling of the Middle East crisis has been with strong prudence or if his decisions are proof that he is in way over his head.
Iran: This is a nation that promises to wipe Israel of the map, funds and supports terrorist organizations, and is seeking nuclear technology. Iran is no doubt an enemy of the United States! But when an uprising of brave protestors peacefully filled the streets to contest the corrupt re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad President Obama was silent. He felt that it was counter-productive to meddle in Iran’s political affairs. Very limited and delayed lip service is all the support the protestors got from the President before Iran’s iron-fisted government forcefully put an end to the rebellion.
Tunisia: President Obama gave praise to the Tunisian tyrant in 2009. Yet two years later when an uprising against the dictator sprung up he voiced his support for the revolution. How much support though? More delayed lip service.
Egypt: Like a wildfire spreading with the wind Egypt was the next major country in the Middle East to go up in flames. As Egyptians massed in cities to demand the resignation of the dictator Hosni Mubarak, President Obama hardly acknowledged the situation. Once it became clear that Mubarak was on the losing end of the inferno in Egypt Obama finally chose a side by voicing support for the protestors. This occurred only a few weeks after he spoke with Mubarak about how to deal with the uprisings in Tunisia. Mubarak, once a friend and ally to America (not necessary a good thing) was just tossed away by Obama. Obama’s criticism of Mubarak steadily increased from this point until eventually Mubarak agreed to step aside. Now it seems that the fears of many people in America about the radical Muslim Brotherhood filling the power void may be coming true.
Libya: Defense Secretary Robert Gates admitted that Libya is not a “vital interest for the United States.” Yet Libya is the one country Obama decided to engage militarily. Obama’s decision did not come at the most opportune time though. When rebels had Muammar Gaddafi’s forces on the run military assistance would have proved much more effective. Yet, it was only after Gaddafi’s forces regrouped and began an unrestrained assault on rebel forces when Obama became interested in Libya. Even then Obama’s support for the rebels was lip service – until the United Nations got involved. It took the approval of the U.N. with leadership from Europe, namely France, to prompt Obama to act.
And so as Obama was headed out the door to Brazil he gave the go-ahead for the U.S. military to attack Gaddafi’s forces – without a clear objective! Coming up with a clear objective (and staying in the Oval office) was not the only thing that Obama forgot to do. Somehow he overlooked consulting two very important groups of people after the U.N. gave the approval for military action: Congress and the American people. Interestingly enough both Obama and his VP Joe Biden campaigned three years ago on the argument that the President did not have the power to launch an attack on a country without approval from Congress unless it posed an immediate threat. Remember, Secretary Gates said Libya was not a vital interest to the United States.
Why did we attack Libya and not assist the rebels in Egypt, Tunisia and now Syria? If humanitarian concerns are the only excuses then shouldn’t the President have stated that a few years ago? On that note shouldn’t he also consider using military force against other nations that that have no qualm with killing their own citizens to maintain power and control? What are the qualifications to meet for America’s involvement? Should the President be in the business of assisting rebel fighters that are linked with al-Qaeda? Does the President’s week-long delay in explaining his position to the American people show evidence of his lack of leadership?
Perhaps looking back Clinton is a little relieved that Democrats put Obama in the position to fumble his way through landmine crisis situations like the Middle East. And maybe the answer to my question is found in this Reuters poll:
Only 17 percent of Americans see President Barack Obama as a strong and decisive military leader, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll taken after the United States and its allies began bombing Libya.
Nearly half of those polled view Obama as a cautious and consultative commander-in-chief and more than a third see him as indecisive in military matters…
But Obama is facing mounting discontent among opposition Republicans and from within his own Democratic Party over the fuzzy aims of the U.S.-led mission in Libya and the lack of a clearly spelled-out exit strategy for U.S. forces.