There are few things as disturbing as watching the current administration in full crisis mode. It’s sort of like watching a Charlie Sheen interview, without the underlying sense of competence and class. The administration has been scrambling since that Tunisian fruit vendor lit himself on fire. Granted, these are difficult times, and the stakes are enormous. This is the sort of situation which demands a leader.
In times of crisis it is essential that the President and his advisors identify what approach will best serve American interests, and ensure that each member of the team speaks with the same voice. Of course, it helps if the President is capable of identifying what is in his country’s best interests, and even more important, believes that his country’s best interests are worth pursuing.
Sadly, there seems to be no consensus in this administration on either of those questions. It is difficult for even the greatest leaders to lead when they aren’t sure where they want to go. One reason this administration has sounded so confused is because, rather than confronting a crisis, they are floating trial balloons. The Secretary of State comments on the uprising in Egypt, and the rest of the team listens closely to see whether China, Russia, or the Chairman of the Heidelberg University International Relations Department approve.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that it is hard to lead if you are afraid to get out in front, and sadly, the current White House occupant spent much of his legislative career voting “present.” This person seems to have embraced the ideal of American decline. He appears to honestly believe that the world will be a better place because of it.
How else to explain his timidity in chartering a ferry to evacuate Americans stranded in Libya? It wasn’t just any ferry, but a third-rate one, so unseaworthy that it bobbed in Tripoli Harbor for a couple of days waiting for calmer waters out at sea. This was how a nation with the world’s most powerful navy chose to respond to this crisis. As a Wall Street Journal editorial noted, even Carter sent helicopters.
Now, while the world sits back and watches the Libyan dictator slaughter his own people, the American administration dithers about the need to get permission from the United Nations before we lift a finger to stop Libyan jets from snuffing out a desperate cry for freedom. We would rather watch people die than risk offending Hugo Chavez.
The academic sophisticates throw up their hands and ask, “What can we do? It’s not our fight. We don’t want to offend anybody.” We can, (and should have done a week ago), tell Ghadafi that we will shoot down any fighter that leaves the ground. Then we should have sent American jets to patrol the Gulf of Sidra. Ghadafi might not like that, but then again, he might remember that the last time he responded, it didn’t go so well for his side.
It’s been more than two decades since he last tried to shoot down one of our jets. The question we need to ask is, in that time, which air force got stronger? The answer is so obvious that the threat should have been made, and could have been made with virtually no fear of consequences.
What else could we have done? We could have recognized the rebels’ provisional government. We could have done it immediately, unilaterally, without waiting to see how it would play in Berlin, Beijing or San Francisco. Now some might argue that we don’t know which side will win. Actually, we do. The side with the biggest guns and the willingness to use it will. Especially if the United States of America refuses to do anything about it. Besides, what’s the worst that could happen if Ghadafi did survive? It’s not like we would be losing a friend in the region.
Others might argue that we don’t know who these rebels are. They might turn out to be even worse than the guy already there. Those people haven’t been paying attention for the past 40 years. Actually, there’s only one person in the world who would be worse than Ghadafi, and he’s already got a job, starving most of North Korea.
We could have sent some arms and ammunition to the rebels. We could have sent them satellite images, cable intercepts and any other intelligence that would help them avoid ambushes and massacres. We could have shown them support, and possibly been able to help shape the outcome. Instead we have cowered on the sidelines. We have begged others to take the lead. We have acted like a nation already in decline.
The President’s claque in the media has made much of late of how similar he is to Ronald Reagan. Well, it’s no longer Morning in America. It’s not even Dusk. If anything, it’s about a quarter past nine at night. Based on his behavior, the current President seems to think that’s a good thing.
If that’s the way he really feels, Barack H. Obama doesn’t deserve to be President. If he wants to lead a third rate country, he should quit his day job and go run for President of Yeswecanistan.