President Barack Obama's public admission last week that the United States does not yet have a strategy
to stem the threat of the Islamic State was both inappropriate and disconcerting, says New York Times columnist Frank Bruni.
In an op-ed piece
published Tuesday, Bruni added that the president was also misguided when he downplayed
the numerous escalating regional instabilities, saying "the world has always been messy."
"There are things that you think and things that you say. There's what you reckon with privately and what you utter publicly. There are discussions suitable for a lecture hall and those that befit the bully pulpit. These sets overlap but aren't the same. Has President Obama lost sight of that?" Bruni wrote.
Announcing that the United States does not have a strategy "gives no comfort to Americans. It puts no fear in our enemies," he wrote.
Bruni said the public has become increasingly uneasy with the threat jihadists are posing across the Middle East, having seen the graphic images of the execution of journalist James Foley and heard about the escalating violence throughout the region.
By comparison, he noted, British Prime Minister David Cameron
has raised the threat level of his country to "severe."
Obama has "adopted a strange language of self-effacement, with notes of defeatism, reminding us that 'America, as the most powerful country on earth, still does not control everything'; that we must be content at times with singles and doubles in lieu of home runs; that not doing stupid stuff is its own accomplishment," Bruni wrote.
"That doesn't make it the right message for the world's lone superpower (whether we like it or not) to articulate and disseminate. That doesn't make it savvy, constructive PR. And the low marks that Americans currently give the president, especially for foreign policy, suggest that it's not exactly what we were after."
Bruni said the image the president projects about America's position on foreign policy is vital, and the comments he has made publicly are more suited to private discussions, particularly given the seriousness of the threats.
"'Messy' is my kitchen at the end of a long weekend. What's happening in much of Syria and Iraq is monstrous," Bruni concluded.
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