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March 25, 2011

Still Absent After All These Years

Joe Charlebois

In his short stint in the Illinois State Senate, President Barack Obama voted “present” 129 times. As a United States senator, Mr. Obama was absent for 24% of all votes. He has made a career of being politically shrewd.


He did this by avoiding votes that would possibly hold him accountable on positions of a highly volatile nature. This strategy not only kept him out of the corners of the political ring, but allowed him to escape the scrutiny that other presidential candidates suffered in 2008.


Even with the fact that he never held an executive position in any organization, his squeaky clean voting record vaulted him into the Democratic Party nomination and eventually the White House.


As president, Mr. Obama has continued his well-designed strategy of voting present on the international stage. He has yet to take a leading role – anywhere. Even over two years into his term as president, Mr. Obama has yet to learn how to lead. It isn’t in his personality to lead. This is due to the fact that he is more concerned with people’s perception of him than whether what he does is right or wrong.


His goal has been to establish an administration distinct from all others in recent history. In Mr. Obama’s world view, there is no American exceptionalism. We are merely members of the global community with no more moral authority than any other nation. We make decisions based on “committee-style” recommendations, not what is necessarily in our best interest as a nation, but what is best for the worldwide community.


What the president fails to realize is that the United States is the only nation currently capable both militarily and morally to react to global situations that require such a level of intervention. Our closest allies – England and France – are barely capable of providing a fraction of support the United States does. The onus lies with the world’s only remaining superpower to lead the way.


His entire term has been dedicated to appeasement. He continues to hold a worldwide apology tour for purported past administrations’ mistakes. His perception is that the United States has consistently instituted a foreign policy that is not in line with other world leadership. He specifically apologizes for the United States’ “go it alone” strategy.


In reality, we never have “gone” it alone. We have consistently worked with allies and the United Nations to establish reasons for intervention as well as leading those same coalitions of allies.


The president believes that previous foreign policy actions were unwanted, unwarranted and worse yet – illegitimate.


The most recent example of lack of leadership is the abandonment of the Libyan people over the past few weeks. More concerned about image, the president and his administration officials have called for the ouster of Col. Muammar Abu Meniar el-Gadhafi, all the while waiting on permission from other world leaders including the Arab League.


While Mr. Obama was avoiding taking the lead, many rebel fighters died awaiting the establishment of a no-fly zone to safeguard their advance toward Tripoli. Now that the no-fly zone has been established, the president not only points out that the United States will not lead this assault – despite handling nearly all of the missions – but will pull out as early as this weekend.


If it is morally right to establish a no-fly zone now, why wasn’t it morally right when the rebel forces needed the support at the beginning of their rebellion?


The short answer is that there is no leadership from this president.


The president is our chief elected official and as such we expect him to take a leading role in matters of foreign policy. We do not expect the United States to be subservient to the world. We may be a member of North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and we may be a member of the United Nations, but first we need to act in the best interests of the United States.


When we become reliant on approval from either organization, we cease to be a sovereign nation.


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