He’s been called aloof. He’s been called detached. He’s been said to dither. They were all correct. Now you can add paralyzed to that list. His worst nightmare (and ours, BTW) has arrived. ISIS is marching across Iraq. Despite their inhuman atrocities, Obama cannot call them the enemy. He’s not interested in defeating them and the Washington Post says Obama lacks a coherent strategy. ISIS needs to be pulverized, but Obama is nowhere to be found.
It’s finally happened. Obama can’t make a decision. He can’t make a decision because he is not a leader. He is a community organizer. He is used to stoking the fire and sitting back, waiting for the dust to settle and then taking the noble position just as he did in Chicago when he voted “present” 129 times. The leader of the free world cannot afford that luxury. It’s so bad that even Obama suck-up Dana Milbank noticed.
Obama is still good at bullying American citizens, “Chokepointing” their legal businesses.
Now the world is seeing what the Obama doctrine really is and what he meant by “Don’t do stupid shit.” What he meant is “don’t do anything that might make me look bad.”
We’ve had warnings:
It’s embarrassing when President Barack Obama’s risk-averse refusal to engage foreign-policy issues becomes so obvious that it’s a laugh line for the president of Iran.
Barack Obama is a “dithering” president whose controlling tendencies and extreme risk-averse attitude to foreign policy has damaged American interests in the Middle East, according to a new book by a senior former State Department adviser.
The insider account of the damaging divisions between the White House and the State Department comes as diplomats wait to see if John Kerry, the new US secretary of state, can persuade Mr Obama to show greater engagement on Syria, Egypt and the wider Middle East.
Vali Nasr, a university professor who was seconded in 2009 to work with Richard Holbrooke, Mr Obama’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, records his profound disillusion at how a “Berlin Wall” of domestic-focused advisers was erected to protect Mr Obama.
“The president had a truly disturbing habit of funnelling major foreign policy decisions through a small cabal of relatively inexperienced White House advisers whose turf was strictly politics,” Mr Nasr writes in The Dispensable Nation: America Foreign policy in Retreat.
But he has grown increasingly risk-averse when it came to the truly complex challenges: Iran, Israel, and of course, Syria.
Here the sheer complexity and difficulty of the issues and his fear of failure has tempered the president’s enthusiasm for serious engagement. The political risks of fighting with the Israelis on settlements or appeasing the Iranian regime on the nuclear issue took care of the rest.
Back in 2010 I wrote:
It is an alarming realization that if faced with a world-threatening crisis, Obama would be paralyzed. He seems unable to make decisions until there is sufficient political pressure placed upon him. This is not leadership. It is followership.
Richard Epstein at the Hoover Institution:
Thomas Friedman, the respected New York Times columnist, tried to do a beleaguered President Barack Obama a favor by publishing a summary of an extended interview between the two men, which was grandly entitled “Obama on the World.” Friedman tried to present the President in a positive light, by calling his weak responses “feisty.” Yet there is no denying that Obama’s rudderless foreign policy has been a disaster. The international order has rapidly deteriorated since Obama entered the Oval Office. The current situation is so perilous that so long as Obama remains President, the phrase “presidential leadership” will continue to be an oxymoron.
The President suffers from two fundamental flaws. The first is that he is unwilling to make decisions. He much prefers to play the role of a disinterested observer who comments on a set of adverse events that he regards himself as powerless to shape, of which Assad’s carnage in Syria is the prime example. The second is that he fundamentally misunderstands the use of force in international affairs. He handicaps himself fatally by imposing unwise limitations on the use of American force, such as his repeated declarations that he will not send ground troops back into Iraq.
To put these points into perspective, it is important to address two issues that Friedman never raises with the President: military strength and American influence. Regarding the first, Freidman fails to discuss President Obama’s conscious decision to reduce the budgets for, and hence the size of, American military operations throughout the world. In the President’s view, cutting down on the size of the military reduces the American temptation to intervene in disputes around the globe, and thus prevents misadventures such as our interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan that have sapped American strength with little or nothing to show for it.
In 2011 I wrote:
Barack Obama is setting the stage for a Fundamentalist Islamic Spring.
From the WSJ on June 29:
BAGHDAD—The Sunni Islamist militant group whose three-week blitz through northern Iraq has nearly upended the country’s fragile unity announced itself as a new Islamist “caliphate” on Sunday, unilaterally declaring statehood and demanding allegiance from other Islamist groups.
The announcement, recited in Arabic on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan by spokesman Abu Mohammed Al Adnani into an audio file, effectively renames the group the Islamic State, canceling its previous title of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS.
“We have had all the requirements of the Islamic state like fundraising, almsgiving, penalties, and prayers and still have only one thing which is the caliphate,” said Mr. Adnani in the recording. “The legality of all emirates, groups, states, and organizations, becomes null by the expansion of the caliph’s authority and arrival of its troops to their areas.”
Then there’s this from 2011:
In other words, it’s all about him. And if it’s not about him, he doesn’t give a rat’s ass about it. He is a sociopath. The United States has a President, but this what the US looks like without a leader.
Absolutely everything does and has ever done is about him. It’s all about how things make him look. That is the prism through which he views the world – not what is best for America. It was so easy to abuse law abiding Americans with the IRS. It was so easy to convince the Peggy Joseph’s of America that Obama would pay for everything. Being the leader of the free world is much harder.
It’s not for the Jayvee team.