Barack Obama began his presidency by touring the world, apologizing for America. He ignored the winds of change when they blew most fiercely in Iran, and stood by while government thugs ruthlessly shut down democracy protests. But when those winds blew through the capital of one of our greatest allies in the region, he metaphorically pushed Hosni Mubarak out the window, into the storm. He “led from behind” while Libyans rebelled against Gadhafi, waiting while our natural allies among the rebels were slaughtered; waiting until Islamist forces stepped up to provide the arms and ammunition we refused to supply.
He refuses to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. In an attempt to defuse critics of his inaction, he has jeopardized intelligence operations by leaking confirmation of U.S. involvement in successful covert actions to slow down Iran’s nuclear engineering.
In Syria, while Obama dithered, he presented Americans with a false dilemma between doing nothing, and sending in troops on the ground. Other nations and forces defied America’s incomprehensible universal arms embargo, and supplied weapons to their allies. Subsequently, their allies are dominating the battles, while our allies have bandages and radios.
Foreign leaders study our political news and understand our electoral cycles. They know that a Romney administration, like the Reagan administration after Jimmy Carter, will bring a more robust defense of American interests. They are jockeying for leadership and power before the new sheriff comes to town.
Soft answers to provocations have produced a climate in which America is neither feared nor respected, nor even loved. Protesters feel safe scaling Embassy walls, and host governments allow it with impunity. If soft answers to the provocation in Cairo led to four innocent deaths in Libya, what will come of the soft answer to those deaths? Who will protect the rest of our diplomats — or our citizens, or our interests — when our president is more worried about soothing hurt feelings and bantering with a DJ than about American security and lives?
We need a leader who values our history, our freedoms, our leadership of the world; who will defend our interests without embarrassment or apology. Barack Obama has shown — again — he is not that leader.
Bart Marcois was a career Foreign Service Officer, serving in four Middle Eastern countries. He was the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy for International Affairs.