The president continues to take flack on his foreign policy bona fides. Critics call him weak, disengaged and feckless. His foreign policy disjointed, ad hoc and without any true sense of direction or urgency. The New York Times Editorial Board in a recent op-ed wrote: “Mr. Obama’s record on foreign policy is not as bad as his critics say. It’s just not good enough.”
“Not good enough?” What does that mean?
It is true that the Obama is seen as a weak president in many countries across the globe. Washington Post reporter and bestselling author David Ignatius makes that point. “I travel the world. Ideology aside…President Obama is seen as ineffectual and weak among foreign diplomats and heads of state.” His drawing a red line on Syria’s use of chemical weapons and then failing to act when Assad crossed the line played no small part in fomenting that opinion. The president most certainly has made some mistakes and his cautious approach has fed the narrative. But basically Obama has been the type of foreign policy leader most Americans and world leaders wanted after eight years of George W. Bush’s ham fisted diplomacy.
Critics should remember that in spite of all the bluster about our president being the leader of the free world he is first and foremost the President of the United States of America. He answers to the citizens of this country not the foreign heads of state that are only too happy to have him do the heavy lifting while they sit back and pad their wallets. The American people have made it clear that they are war weary and have no desire to enter into any conflict that does not pose a direct threat to our borders. Senators McCain and Cruz can bang the war drums all they want. They are in the minority when it comes to spending our blood and treasure on another civil war in a foreign land. If conscription were the law of the land mothers and fathers would be praising his patience and level headed approach.
The first priority of the President of the United States is to keep the country safe. By all accounts he has done that. He has pulled us out of the quagmire of two unending wars and he has been resolute when it comes to dealing with those who would threaten our shores. (See Osama bin Laden and the use of drones to eliminate terrorists, even those born within our boarders, who pose a direct threat to our way of life.)
But Obama is no Putin. And in spite of the daily praise showered on the Russian leader by FOXNEWS we are most happy for that to be the case.
By all accounts the president is listening to the American people; keeping the country safe while using diplomacy as the first response to foreign aggression.
That may not be good enough for the NYT…but its good enough for us.
There remains the unanswered question…when will enough be enough for this president. What will it take to cause this president to act in a manner that will satisfy his critics?
Let’s hope we never find out.