(Part two of a two part series about Presidents and the Middle East)
President Barack Obama is not who the world thought he was. His policies, including the attack on Libya starting last weekend, prove it.
Candidate Obama promised peace in the Middle East. Yet with Libya, the President is using the same logic and rhetoric as George W. Bush used during the U.S. war against Iraq that began nine years earlier to the day.
After presenting his message of diplomacy it was no surprise that when he took office Obama was viewed by the world as the most highly regarded U.S. President since John F. Kennedy. But as the Middle East has crumbled under the weight of hate and violence, Obama first sat on the sidelines for weeks, refusing to take on even the vilest of America’s enemies; men like Libyan leader Colonel Moammar Gadhafi.
Finally, on March 17, the Obama administration, lead by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, joined a United Nations resolution that permits "all necessary measures" to impose a no-fly zone, protect civilian areas and impose a ceasefire on Gadhafi’ s military. Enforcement will rely only on air power as the resolution rules out sending ground troops, at least for now. Two days later the U.S. launched its first attacks; ostensibly to “save lives” in Libya.
But as Bush 43 proved in Iraq, no-fly zones can soon be transformed to boots on the ground, and that could mean yet another U.S. war on Arab soil. This is most disconcerting because the United States is already fighting a two-front war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Last week I wrote about Presidents Ronald Reagan through George W. Bush and their mismanagement in the Middle East. With the region dissolving into mayhem, I thought it important to put this week’s focus on Obama.
Some analysts were calling it Obama’s "deer-in-the-headlights" doctrine. On key issues from Tunisia to Egypt the Obama administration has not shaped events in a positive way, even though it has been the U.S. that has been instrumental in creating this Middle East crisis.
According to the Daily Star, “As revolution has spread from the Maghreb to the Gulf region and back again, President Barack Obama has stuttered and fumbled and sometimes fallen strangely silent. What can explain this from a man whose manner has always been smooth and whose oratorical gifts propelled him from utter obscurity to the White House in just four short years?”
The newspaper went on to ask: “Why has the president seemed so indifferent to democracy in the Middle East?”
The simple answer is that Obama does not have the wherewithal to lead. The other answer is more complicated; that Obama is purposefully undermining democracy in the region and launching a war to help his bid for re-election.
So who is the real Obama? It is an important question with blood being spilled on a daily basis in the Middle East and in the wake of oil prices spiking at more than $100 per barrel, more than twice as high as they were the day Obama was elected.
It is hard to reconcile the differences between candidate Obama and President Obama. It was candidate Obama that gave an inspirational speech in Cairo on June 4, 2009:
“That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. These are not just American ideas; they are human rights. And that is why we will support them everywhere.”
We are approaching the second anniversary of that speech. Middle East regimes have collapsed and the U.S. is in yet another war. It remains to be seen exactly how far Obama will use America’s military might in Libya. Whatever actions the President finally settles on, from Libya to Pakistan, it will translate into further Muslim extremism aimed against Americans.
True, Gadhafi has slaughtered thousands of his own civilians. At the same time, Obama leaves Saudi Arabia’s repression of democratic ideals unchallenged even though the House of Saud spends billions of dollars financing Islamic terrorist organizations.
Obama’s policies in the Middle East have been inconsistent. France and Britain first endorsed a no-fly zone over Libya to give anti-Gadhafi insurgents a fighting chance. It took the Obama administration weeks to catch up.
It is Obama’s job to be the leader of the free world, but he has failed miserably at that task. The result is a wave of unrest across the region and another war in yet another Arab country. Fox News has gone so far as to say that the President’s leadership in the Middle East has been nothing less than a “dereliction of duty.”
It could be that Obama is shell-shocked by the huge responsibilities of office; that he is not up to the job.
At stake is not only a democratic future for Libya, but America’s national interest. Libya has oil reserves of 41 billion barrels of crude, the largest of any African nation.
Every President from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush stood for something, right or wrong. All were decisive. Obama seems to lack leadership qualities by first his hesitancy and now his impulsiveness. That is why he deserves a failing grade when it comes to the Middle East. I just hope his incompetence doesn’t lead to a ground war, this time in Libya.
Yours in good time and bad,
Myers’ Energy & Gold Report