Obama: Don’t Just Walk It, Talk It!

Obama Peace Initiatives

White House Photo: Pete Souza

The neocons are going crazy because Obama hasn’t stopped Russia from intervening in Ukraine. This is after he failed to intervene in Syria, bargained with Iran, didn’t get Karzai to sign for a troop extension in Afghanistan, and had his ambassador killed in Libya. The picture that is being painted is of a completely ineffectual leader on the world stage.

What this storyline misses is that — with the exception of the Benghazi incident in Libya, clearly a failure — Obama’s policy is to avoid getting into new conflicts and to get us out of the ones we’re in. He is not about policing the world. And public opinion polls show consistently that the vast majority is with him on this. Very few people want any new military commitments.

It has been characteristic of this President — in contrast with his predecessor George W. Bush — that he moves very quietly, even deceptively at times, without trumpeting what he’s doing or calling attention to himself.

For example, his objective is clearly to get us out of Afghanistan, but he’s doing it by indirection, negotiating with President Karzai in a way that is almost certain to fail.

Karzai has compelling domestic pressures to repeatedly condemn and frustrate the United States, even though he desperately needs continued U.S. aid. Karzai is probably depending on Obama to ignore the repeated snubs and keep on insisting that the troops stay. Karzai (or his successor) could then magnanimously agree in the end to let the troops stay. But Obama will do what he did in Iraq in 2009: take no for an answer.

Similarly, President Obama surely sees that there are no good guys to support in Syria, and that there is no way the U.S. can do anything to stop the Russians from intervening in the former Soviet Republic of Ukraine, however much we condemn it. Even the most extreme hawks aren’t advocating that we start a nuclear war over this.

Obama’s characteristic style, however, is serving him ill as he tries to defend his political standing within the country. It is not enough to do the right thing, or to end up at the right goal: he has to do a lot more to tell his own story, instead of letting his enemies continue to define him. He can rally public opinion to his side because, as I noted above, the vast majority don’t want any more wars.

john peelerHe needs to tell us what his vision of American leadership in the world is, and how his strategy and tactics are getting us there.

He can’t just walk the walk, he’s got to talk the talk.

John Peeler

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  1. duitdon says

    Let’s try another conspiracy theory. How about our prince of light being intimated by the powers that be. What if the pressure from corporations!, the war machine, the health industry (more corporations!) and our insatiable love of power (oil that is) is causing him to bend to the will of the powerful. Oops, I forgot the banks. Picture a movie with these lords of darkness “negotiating” with our president. At least he’s human, not like the machines (fanatics) that oppose what is good for the people of our earth and the USA, too.

  2. JoeWeinstein says

    This article too contains the usual popular delusion – that ‘getting into new conflicts’ and ‘getting out of old ones’ is strictly up to the USA and its president. It may seem so after GW Bush’s flamboyant elective choice of two big wars, but it’s not a general truth. It rarely occurs to some folks – including notably Obama – that conflict can be OTHER guys’ elective choices, not just Americans’. Some of those guys indeed have chosen to be at long-term and potentially violent conflict with us whether or not we opt electively for that relationship. (They include not only Al Qaeda but also the Iran theocracy – and maybe now Putin too. Al Qaeda apart, most of the others are smart enough to let clients and underlings do their violent dirty work, and instead let Obama’s Prince-of-Peace delusions hand them easy victories.)

  3. harry says

    1. I lived and worked in Occupied Berlin with the Russians and you need advice on playing chess with them. Flood the market with oil and make it cheaper than Russian oil. Try to replace Russian oil that comes through
    Kiev with oil from Saudi, US, Norway,and other friends.

    2. Without any fanfare or announcement, send an air craft group to Georgia
    and Kiev for a visit. Be sure it has a large number of Marines and Warthogs on board and fighters to protect the hogs..

    3. Increase the Marine numbers at our embassies in Kiev and Georgia,
    limit outside leisure time. Let the Russians discover them and do not make any news release any time soon. Classify the mission until it is complete. Prevent information from reaching the Russians.

    4. If the Russians find out after the fact of these military movements, they will wonder what other plans are being put in place of which they are unaware. This will put pressure on Russia as they did not know we were coming, do not know why you sent them, do not know the mission, and do not know if you are sending more. Do not make any press announcements, zero, just let them appear like magic. You just say they are just on friendly visits, which Russia
    will not believe. Russians never believe weak press notices and good chess
    players do not post their next move. Do not shoot unless they do first. Russia
    is not going to shoot at the US military as it is he most feared on the planet,
    Pray that never changes. Everyone is afraid of US Marines and only a fool would pick a fight with them and a bunch of Warthogs. Review the panic among Iraqi forces as they fled our rescue mission of Kuwait in the Iraq war.

    5. The best thing a POTUS can do is let the dogs out. You plan a mission with the military staff and then turn them loose to react to what ever happens while acting within any limits you placed in the beginning. I believe you selected the current DOD secretary due to his party affiliation, his ability to by led, and he can be a place holder. You are not going to get any out of the box thoughts from him.

  4. llozano says

    So he’s winning by losing? If the Republicans can rule with a minority I guess Obama can lead by losing. Interesting paradox.

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