Is Obama’s “Leading from Behind” Really “Smart Power?”
Some time ago the Obama administration introduced the world to a new policy doctrine branded “Leading from Behind.” It’s unclear exactly what is meant by this seemingly contradictory phrase. Perhaps it was intended to illustrate gentle, bipartisan, but firm leadership as the Chief Executive. Perhaps to show that the United States is just one nation among many — not exceptional — with the same voice as any other nation no matter size, government structure, or human rights record. Maybe the idea is that a humble attitude would result in our being more liked. Leading from Behind was coupled with the idea of “Smart Power,” which apparently means wielding our nation’s might like a scalpel; limited, judiciously, in accordance with other nation’s wishes — we’ll go along to get along, so to speak.
Regardless, all Obama seems to manage to do is lead from behind. He has a real penchant for it, demonstrating this time and again in his foreign policy approach. Even before election, he embarked on what has been called the “Apology Tour” wherein he announced that he was a citizen of the world, willing to confess the sin’s of America to all (yet personally able to heal the world and halt the rising seas).
Once elected Obama proceeded to follow in President Bush’s footsteps; winding down Iraq involvement on the previously established time line while exponentially increasing drone attacks. When problems arose in Libya, rather than leading Congress and our nation to engage, he cited United Nations Security Council approval as justification (violating our laws might be called an unfortunate form of leadership). It is ironic, however, that ousting the Libyan leadership without assuring appropriate replacement resulted in a power vacuum that has allowed jihadists to move in and take over — just as previously demonstrated so disastrously in Iraq.
Obama appears particularly proud of using ‘Smart Power’ to eliminate Osama Bin Laden. Of course, Obama was only able to locate Osama by employing intelligence from the previous administration, through interrogation methods Obama swore he would never use, coupled with an extant program already working to find Bin Laden. Even here Obama apparently delayed action for many months. It is reported that he finally ordered the hit when it became clear that the issue would soon become public. Whereupon Obama led the way to the golf course, and his staff retrieved him a mere 20 minutes before the mission began. This is why we see situation room photos with President Obama seated in a small corner chair — leading boldly from back of the room. Then Obama squandered the intelligence gained simply to bolster his political standing, thus infuriating the military and intelligence communities.
More recently, during the first Presidential debate, Obama was utterly unable to discredit or disarm Romney. So the very next day Obama proceeded to try to do it behind Romney’s back, while speaking to adoring supporters who wouldn’t call him out on mendacity or misstatements. He has continued this pattern ever since. Apparently this is yet another example of Obama’s signature strategy of “leading from behind” while wielding “smart power.” Where Romney goes, Obama follows.
Consider the evidence. Obama has neglected to visit Israel while president — even though he has traveled extensively in surrounding Arab states. Romney announces a trip to Israel. Soon after an apparently irritated Obama (an unfortunately common demeanor) announced: ‘If I’m elected for another term, I’ll go to Israel, so it’s no biggie that Mitt went first. But I’ll toss them a little money just in case. Everyone loves that free taxpayer money!’ Later a defensive Obama proclaimed that while a 2008 candidate, he traveled to Israel’s Yad Vashem holocaust memorial and the oft shelled town of Sderot — but hadn’t used the visit as a photo opportunity as Romney supposedly had. Imagine Obama’s chagrin when the Israeli press promptly announced that Romney visited the same sites in 2007 but hadn’t even mentioned the fact in his own defense against Obama’s political attack.
Then Romney announced he would tour Louisiana to help and comfort people there. Obama, our president, hadn’t bothered to go — he was too busy campaigning. But as soon as he finds out Romney planned the trip, Obama cancels a few fundraisers and then after continuing on to a few more campaign events first, he goes to Louisiana after Romney.
One place Obama hasn’t followed was when Romney said that London didn’t seem fully prepared for the upcoming Olympic Games. Romney, of course, speaks from experience, having previously saved the Salt Lake Olympics. His statements came at the same time as widespread reports that British lawmakers, Olympic officials, and others were expressing the same concerns; insufficient security personnel, key officials secretly planning a strategically timed strike, and so on. Ironically, according to the mainstream media and Obama, this was a foreign policy disaster — on Romney’s part.
Finally, on September 11th there was a widespread outbreak of violence against our diplomats, embassies, and facilities in the Middle East. In the face of silence from Obama over sixteen hours after trouble began and four hours after the first murder in Benghazi was widely reported by Reuters, Romney issued a quite reasonable and mature statement about the situation — followed with a press appearance the next day. Among other things he said the nation’s official response erred by failing both to support free speech and to condemn violence against our Ambassador and staff on our sovereign soil. Recall that by international law and treaty an embassy or consulate grounds are the sovereign soil of the nation they represent, not the country they happen to reside in. Almost a full day after the violence began — and twelve hours after Romney’s statement — Obama finally mentioned the attacks and murder. As our embassies burned with Al Quaida flags now flying above them, Obama flew off to Las Vegas for another campaign event. The very next statement about the situation from the Obama administration was simply to castigate Romney. Then over the next few days Obama released virtually identical comments to Romney’s — with a bit of waffling thrown in for good measure.
For the next six weeks Obama proceeded to lie to the entire world about the details. He repeatedly blamed the attack on a short anti-Muslim youtube video and supposed spontaneous protest (a protest which never actually occurred). In fact the White House knew within hours that neither were involved; that there had been repeated and escalating attacks over the previous months, and that increased security had been requested but declined by the White House on multiple occasions. Apparently during the seven hour long attack our personnel begged for military support, but were denied by the White House — several times. Are these actions some aspect of “leading from behind” that the rest of us just don’t happen to understand? Or is this “smart power?” When it comes to the details of Obama’s response to Benghazi, he seems to be reapplying the Bush era concept of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Obama left our Ambassador and staff to die, yet swears “we leave no one behind” when it comes to Hurricane Sandy. Smart political promises, but Christopher Stevens, Tyrone Woods, Sean Smith, and Glen Doherty could not be reached for comment.
What has been the response of the mainstream media to these amazing occurrences? The Obama loving sycophantic media has primarily castigated Romney for supposed foreign policy disasters and missteps. Obama follows right along, proclaiming Biden’s inappropriate debate behavior Ryan’s fault and the Benghazi bru-ha-ha also Romney and Ryan’s fault. With the economy in shambles and foreign policy in flames, Obama focuses like a laser on the miniscule and juvenile: Big Bird, Binders, Dirty Dishes, and the fantasy of Romnesia. Brilliant.
So what are the current headlines? ‘Polls show Obama Leading from Behind.’ [h/t Romney] Apparently there are still a significant number of citizens who believe it’s time we put some adults in charge of our nation.
Now that’s smart power!