Center for World Conflict and Peace

Center for World Conflict and Peace

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Quick reply to Brad's Post

Brad made a good rebuttal to my points, but here is my counter-response to him.

First, I think Brad missed my point of the "Osama Bump" for Obama. No credible analyst will ever claim that Obama can win the 2012 election based on his accomplishment on nabbing Osama alone. The economy is important, and Bush, Sr. found this out to his chagrin back in 1992.

What Obama squandered was the idea that the Republicans could no longer assail Democrats on "weak foreign policy," that Republicans always get the job done and Democrats always mess things up. Here, Obama showed that he managed to clean up the mess that he inherited from Bush. Thus, he would be able to show a contrast that he's a results-oriented president.

He squandered his mojo by his ill-timed speech on Israel. I agree that he did the speech to preempt the Palestinians from pushing it in the United Nations on September. Still, why then? Why a day before Netanyahu visited the United States and a few days after Mitchell resigned? Why he didn't invest some of his time dealing with this issue last year? He had snubbed Netanyahu in his last visit and in doing this speech, he did that twice, and not surprisingly, the Republicans just smelled blood and the Democrats went on the defensive. Had Obama really been serious in dealing with Israeli-Palestinian issue, he'd have put a lot of backing behind Mitchell (e.g. by trying to mend bridges with Netanyahu, while at the same time trying to strengthen Abbas' position). Instead, he waited until the PA decided to drop a bombshell by making an agreement with Hamas.

That's what I call a clueless foreign policy. Instead of leading, he is reacting to developments. It is not the no-cookie-cutter approach that I dislike. Frankly, I hate a cookie cutter approach, as each country has its own characteristics, making a cookie cutter approach another disaster in the making. The problem is that there is simply no leadership, that he does not seem to be engaged with neither the region nor the leaders. Even after he engaged with the region, he had to confront Israeli-Palestinian problem at the worst possible time.

Interestingly though, even though people might have hated Bush's foreign policy, and Bush's worldwide popularity was horrid, he was surprisingly able to build good working relationships with leaders all over the world.

I may be heading to a rough spot here, but I argue that one can only lead if he/she knows where they are headed. Thus, I argue that Obama's lack of leadership in the Middle East is because he simply has no idea of what to do and where to go. He has no foreign policy and that's because he is ignorant to the developments there. He is surrounded by great people, such as Hillary Clinton, Samantha Power, George Mitchell, Dennis Ross, and various other experts (who disagree with each other), and yet he was caught flatfooted for weeks after the uprising in Tunisia started and after the revolution struck Cairo.

That's what I call lack of leadership.

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