What an embarrassment!
Russia’s Vladimir Putin is running circles around the president of the United States.
Even though the U.S. and Russia have reached agreement to rid Syria of chemical weapons, the result is the same: the U.S. and its president have lost credibility and respect; and, Putin will have the final word on enforcement through Russia’s veto power at the Security Council. Hence, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and Iran can continue to run amuck.
When Secretary of State John Kerry suggested in a humorous and unscripted ad lib that action against Syria could be avoided if it gave up its chemical weapons, Putin quickly filled the international vacuum left by Obama and his shaky foreign policy.
The Russian leader’s plan was for Syria to give up chemical weapons and the United States call off airstrikes. In other words, Putin rescued Obama from an impending defeat in Congress which would have made Obama the first president in history to be denied war-making authority.
Putin’s plan allowed him to take the green-grass moral high ground while Obama and team sheepishly grazed on the brown grass of humiliation below.
Obama has shown incompetence and weakness in his foreign policy and has not presented a credible threat, or gained the respect of Syria’s Assad, Putin, or any other world leader — just ask British Prime Minister David Cameron.
The president of the United States of America has been strategically outmaneuvered by the president of Russia — a real first.
Obama lost the initiative and fumbled the diplomatic ball.
Putin picked it up and scored big time, becoming a real player in the game of brinkmanship in the Middle East. Meanwhile, the Obama team came off looking like a group of confused community organizers — with no community!
Putin even had the hutzpah to write an in-your-face Op-Ed in The New York Times blasting Obama’s threat to take action against Syria.
“The potential strike by the United States against Syria . . . could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance . . . We must stop using the language of force and return to the path of civilized diplomatic and political settlement.”
That’s quite a statement coming from the former head of Russia’s KGB which some would call “Murder and Terror Incorporated.”
Putin could not resist a final slap in the face by attacking Obama’s use of the term “exceptional” in describing America, saying, “It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see them as exceptional . . . We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”
Here is the president of Russia, where there is no freedom of the press or speech and where gays are persecuted, invoking the terms of “democracy,” the “Lord”, and “God.”
The concept that America is “exceptional” and occupies a special place among nations has not been a theme of Obama’s presidency. No “Shining City on a Hill” references from him — just apology tours and references to American “arrogance.”
So how did America get to this point of disrespect and decline in the world?
When it comes to foreign policy, I sure miss the wisdom, decisiveness, and sense of leadership skills of a President Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush; a secretary of defense like Casper Weinberger, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld; national security advisers the caliber of Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell; and, the steady confidence of the latter two as secretaries of state.
Compare the above presidents and their backgrounds to our current White House occupant who came to the office with a background as a “community organizer,” brief and unimpressive stints in a state legislature and the U.S. Senate combined with skill using a teleprompter.
Contrast the above foreign policy teams with what we have now: Secretary of Defense Chuck “where am I” Hagel; National Security Adviser Susan “what do I tell 'em now” Rice; Secretary of State John “slip of the tongue” Kerry; and, his predecessor, Hillary “what difference does it make” Clinton.
And let’s not leave out this team’s spokespersons from podiums in the White House, State and Defense Departments as compared to their counterparts in the Reagan, Bush, and even the Clinton administrations in terms of self-confidence and credibility.
So what have they and their past and present team brought us by “leading from behind?” Answer: Loss of respect around the world and a bungled foreign policy, which has allowed a former KGB leader to assume the role of “peace maker” in Syria and the Mideast and give Assad a new lease on power.
It was Putin’s week.
The president of the United States was left appearing as a bystander.
At home, he and his cohorts are hostile and combative when going after the Tea Party and Republicans. On the world stage with the likes of Putin and Al-Assad, they turn the other check.
He can reach an agreement on Syria in days but has been unable to agree with Republicans on debt limits, budgets and other matters for most of his presidency.
The lesson from the Syrian fiasco: maybe Obama and his team have, or soon will learn, that the only thing America gets from “leading from behind” is a swift and firm kick “in the behind” from our enemies.
Clarence V. McKee is president of McKee Communications, Inc., a government, political and media relations consulting firm in Florida. He held several positions in the Reagan administration as well as the Reagan presidential campaigns and has appeared on many national and local media outlets. Read more reports from Clarence V. McKee — Click Here Now.
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