It’s been a while since I posted anything to this blog. Much has happened in the last 15 months. We have had a presidential election, and have begun the 2014 election cycle. This endless focus on elections has turned our nation’s focus to the short term. While events will always demand our immediate attention, too often, our politicians rarely have a long view regarding policy and strategic direction. A long view is built on principle while the shorter view seems to be built upon polls.
This focus on polls seems to have become a poor substitute for leadership. This has become glaringly obvious in the last few days as President Obama spoke of drawing a red line regarding Syria. The President, and his Secretary of State, have vociferously stated that the Assad government has used sarin gas on its citizens. Concerned that he got too far out in front of the public and Congress, President Obama began consulting polls searching for a way to co-opt others about his statements regarding a limited strike on Syrian targets. The President has called Congress back early from their long vacation so he can shift the responsibility for any decision to strike Syrian targets to Congress. Should Congress fail to vote for a limited missile strike on Syrian targets, the President will most assuredly take to the airwaves and blame Congress for America’s unwillingness to take action. Should congress support the President by voting for a limited response to Syria, the President will gleefully state that his position reflects the will of the American Congress and public. This “have it both ways” approach to leadership has been the hallmark of this President’s “leadership.”
This President submitted only one budget to Congress during his first four years, this voted down by the Senate 97-0. While failing to complete his constitutional duties to submit a yearly budget, the President has increased the size of our national deficit to record levels. The Affordable Health Care Act, commonly referred to as “Obamacare”, was produced by Senator Reid and Congresswoman Pelosi. President Obama prefers to let others take the lead, and then take credit if things turn out well. Witness the credit the President has taken regarding Osama bin Laden.
During his campaign against Senator McCain, candidate Obama spoke of his vote against the Iraq war. He pledged to end the Iraq war, a task he has yet to complete. Now that he is President, he is now asking the American public and Congress to take what could be, the start of another war. While no one can predict what will take place should we strike Syrian targets, it is likely that this action will be perceived by some in the Arab world to increase their attacks on Americans and American interests. I hope in the days to come, the President and Congress take a long view considering what may happen if we once again act as the world’s policeman.
While past Presidents have taken unilateral action, it seems a better approach if President Obama follows the lead of President George H. W. Bush and builds a large widespread international coalition before taking action against Syria. Quick action always seems to produce unanticipated consequences. Let’s hope the public and Congress take the long view regarding taking action against Syria.