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As Russia Deploys Troops, Will the World Get a Professor or Commander-In-Chief?

Wilson Perkins Allen Blog Series

As Russia Deploys Troops, Will the World Get a Professor or Commander-In-Chief?

President Barack Obama often pleads with the country to “give diplomacy a chance.”  This outlook befits a commander-and-chief who prefers to analyze, ponder and lecture about world events like a professor, rather than shape them. Russia’s recent intrusion into Ukraine has the world asking which President will show-up: the professor or the Commander-In-Chief?

This passive leadership style by the President has led many Republicans and Democrats to criticize him as an appeaser, someone who is more interested in saying the right things than making the tough decisions and leading our nation.

Worse for the White House, a recent ABC poll revealed that 63% of Americans DO NOT have confidence the President will make the right decisions for our country’s future, showing, more than half the nation believes he isn’t a strong leader.

If his own country doesn’t have faith in his leadership abilities, how can the rest of the world be expected to follow Obama’s lead?

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) cautioned, “As the President and his national security team are apparently the last to learn, Putin has scant regard for international norms when they run counter to his goal of re-establishing Soviet-style regional hegemony… And Putin is under no illusions that the President’s vague threats mean any more than his infamous ‘red line’ in the Syrian Desert.  If we were serious about standing up to Putin’s power grab, we would immediately suspend Russian membership in the Group of Eight (G8), which should consist of nations that can contribute to a civilized order. And if the Russians persist in this aggressive action, we should look into additional measures such as suspension from the World Trade Organization and even the United Nations Security Council.”

From our enemies to our competitors, the eyes of the world are watching and scrutinizing the President’s every move.  What happens in the days ahead will dramatically shape how the world views our nation and is a turning point for U.S. foreign policy in the 21st Century.

Retired 4-star general, Jack Keane recently warned, “Our adversaries are watching this. This is the beginning of something here. China is watching. Iran is watching. And North Korea is watching, as well.”

Keane added, “We have the capability to deal with Putin, even short of military operations. We should stop wringing our hands and saying, well, this is too hard. There’s not much we can do”.

Putin’s ever-growing aggressive stance suggests he doesn’t believe President Obama has the stomach for confrontation.  He knows he can bully the President just as he is trying to bully Ukraine.

 

As Sen. Cruz and General Keane have shown, the President has plenty of options at his disposal to handle this international crisis.  This is a leadership moment for Obama and perhaps the greatest test he has faced on the world stage.

 

Most importantly Obama needs to demonstrate to Putin that he will not back down. What does that mean? It means that the world will need to see an Obama that they haven’t seen before. It will mean that he must be willing to stray outside his comfort zone and embrace a more assertive stance with more risks and less certainty.  He needs to begin shaping events rather than simply reacting to them.

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