Obama’s leading from behind isn’t leadership at all

Kevin Kostner’s character in Tin Cup said, “When a defining moment comes along, you define the moment… or the moment defines you.”

Can it be said any better than that? Whether it’s gay rights, health care reform, or foreign policy, Obama continues to let other’s define him. When it comes to foreign policy, he is allowing other’s to define us! To define the United States of America. We can’t stand for that.

The Obama administration celebrated “Leading from behind” with a ten page New Yorker article bragging about Obama’s leadership style on Libya, and how he got the results he wanted without the US appearing to be taking the lead. The Obama administration jumped on the the Arab League’s support for a No Fly Zone and enforced it along with NATO.

They went on to brag about the “bait and switch” and declared this form of leadership to be the most efficient and most applicable to all foreign relations. A year later, it turns out that everyone noticed the silly tomfoolery and actually doesn’t like it.

In a recent survey of Arabs in the Middle East, Obama’s approval rating is lower than that of George W. Bush’s in his last year of office. The Arab American Institute published the results of their survey in a PDF format and gave the following highlights:

  • After improving with the election of Barack Obama in 2008, U.S. favorable ratings across the Arab world have plummeted. In most countries they are lower than at the end of the Bush Administration, and lower than Iran’s favorable ratings (except in Saudi Arabia).
  • The continuing occupation of Palestinian lands and U.S. interference in the Arab world are held to be the greatest obstacles to peace and stability in the Middle East.
  • While many Arabs were hopeful that the election of Barack Obama would improve U.S.-Arab relations, that hope has evaporated. Today, President Obama’s favorable ratings across the Arab World are 10% or less.
  • Obama’s performance ratings are lowest on the two issues to which he has devoted the most energy: Palestine and engagement with the Muslim world.
  • The U.S. role in establishing a no-fly zone over Libya receives a positive rating only in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, but, as an issue, it is the lowest priority.The killing of bin Laden only worsened attitudes toward the U.S.
  • A plurality says it is too early to tell whether the Arab Spring will have a positive impact on the region. In Egypt, the mood is mixed. Only in the Gulf States are optimism and satisfaction levels high.

Obama has squandered the goodwill he initially garnered by being “anything but Bush” to the Middle East and the dictators that run the area. Obama began his presidency by going to Cairo, Egypt and delivering a speech full of optimism and hope, and then quickly lost his footing, revolution after revolution when the Arab Spring unfolded.

Listening to Obama’s address in Cairo, one would think he supported democracy and freedom and wanted it for everyone in the region. But watching him stand aside, wait for an obvious outcome, and then begrudgingly support the winners in every revolution decreased his credibility and even ignited feelings of abandonment and disregard for the ideals that he initially preached.

He may have said the right things, but his actions (or inaction), and sluggish response to the wave of change has been disappointing. The father of modern leadership, Peter F. Drucker said,

Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.

Obama’s lack of leadership in his warped “lead from behind” strategy is clearly leading us down a path of a confusing, meaningless foreign policy full of rhetoric, with no action or intentions to ever back up anything we say or do.

The biggest bungle has been on the issue of Syria. The freedom loving people of Syria have been rallying and demonstrating for freedom for 14 months against a brutal regime. The regime has responded with a crackdown the likes of which humanity has never seen. Raping women and children and forcing the men to watch. Slitting the throats of children. Bashing newborns heads in with hammers. A massacre of 55 children all at once. Torturing people to death. Over 15,000 killed that we know of, but most Syrians say that the true number is double or triple that one. All because they are asking for freedom. Obama’s response, or lack thereof, has been shameful and embarrassing.

The Syrian people have been begging the US and NATO to help them. They are crying out for our leadership and our help. They aren’t asking for troops on the ground. Just a no fly zone and more advanced weapons to combat the brutal dictator’s army. An eerily similar situation to what happened in Libya.

Obama’s response has been an array of adverbs and adjectives. No threats of attack. No threats of anything. A spineless, meaningless tragedy of a foreign policy. And meanwhile the killing of children goes on.

John McCain and other members of congress have been calling for a no fly zone and arming the Syrian people for over a year, and Obama continues with his obstructionist policy, finding billions of excuses to not act, and allow the regime to slaughter it’s people.

It’s time to vote out this worthless “leader” and select leadership that actually leads, rather than leadership that likes to be lead around.

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