(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.