Margaret Wente wrote a scathing column in the Globe & Mail, dismissing President Obama and his handling of the Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons in an August 21 attack as “a 98-pound weakling.” Ouch. Most people are surprised that he seems to be talking in circles on what to do about the dictator. The fact is that the U.S. has softened its line. We are no longer hearing any talk about Assad being forced out of office, but simply to take away all his chemical weapons. Here’s an excerpt from Margaret Wente’s article:
The moral imperative is clear, he argued. We cannot let dictators get away with this. On the other hand, the United States can’t be expected to solve all the world’s problems, either. Therefore, the way ahead is to outsource U.S. foreign policy on Syria to … Vladimir Putin!
So much for the credibility of the world’s only superpower. Mr. Obama’s staff have been tweeting that this delaying tactic is an incredible display of smart diplomacy. But to most of us, it just makes him look gullible. The President has allowed himself to be hog-tied and hornswoggled by Lilliputians. He was determined not to repeat the mistakes of the past, when a blundering giant threw its weight around and only wound up showing the world how incompetent it is. But if there’s one thing worse than being a blundering giant, it’s being a 98-pound weakling. Source: Globe & Mail
Let me be clear, I don’t interpret Wente’s column as an attack on President Obama’s masculinity or his blackness. He came off as being punked by Vladimir Putin, of all people, and looks very weak on the international stage. As far back as I can remember, there has always been unrest in the Middle East. The U.S. simply can’t march in and attack country after country in order to liberate the people. That only creates more animosity towards the U.S.
Like most everybody else, I’m confused as hell over Syria. The trouble is, Mr. Obama is confused, too. This is not reassuring. He appears to be making it up as he goes along. The only thing that’s clear is that he hates – really hates – being commander-in-chief. He was the guy who was going to get the United States out of all of George W. Bush’s messes. And now this!
Mr. Bush’s problem was that once he made decisions, he never second-guessed himself. Mr. Obama’s problem is that he overthinks. He changes his mind and paints himself into a corner. At first, he said Mr. al-Assad had to go. Then he said regime change wasn’t in the cards. He said there was a red line Mr. al-Assad mustn’t cross. Then, when Mr. al-Assad crossed it, he said it wasn’t his red line, it was the world’s – even as it became excruciatingly clear that the world wasn’t about to do a thing about it.
He said Syria poses no threat to America, but also that attacking it would be in the national interest. On his own, he decided to seek Congressional approval – then trapped himself when it turned out Americans had no taste for another foreign (mis)adventure of the kind he had promised to extricate them from. Source: Globe & Mail
I am very surprised that well into his second term President Obama can’t seem to find his footing on the Middle East. He’s coming across as a neophyte next to the biggest bully in the world — Vladimir Putin, who would like to be seen as a world leader. He’s coming across as a peacemaker on the world’s stage. The fact is, President Putin will be on the hook if Bashar al-Assad uses chemical weapons again.
Separately, President Obama appeared on ABC’s ‘This Week’ with George Stefanopolous and seemed to destroy the Republican myth that Putin got the better of him. Here’s the transcript of that interview (H/T Politicususa):
President Barack Obama…with respect to Mr. Putin- I have said consistently that where the interest of the United States and Russia converge, we need to work together. And I had talked to Mr. Putin a year ago- saying to him- the United States and Russia should work together to deal with these chemical weapons stockpiles, and to work to try to bring about a political transition-
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But do you trust-
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: -inside of Syria.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: -he has the same goal? Do you really trust that?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Oh, I don’t think that- Mr. Putin has the same- values that we do. And I think- obviously, by- protecting Mr. Assad- he has a different attitude about- the Assad regime. But what I’ve also said to him directly- is that we both have an interest in preventing chaos, we both have an interest in preventing terrorism, the situation in Syria right now is untenable, as long as Mr. Assad’s in power, there is gonna be some sort of conflict there, and that we should work together to try to find a way in which the interests of all the parties inside of Syria, the Alawites, the Sunnis, the Christians, that everybody is represented and that there is a way of bringing the temperature down so that- that horrible things that are happening inside the country…