Obama: The Shrinking President

America’s stature in the world has been dealt a body blow by President Obama’s amateurish and inept leadership as illustrated in the last few weeks by his chaotic dithering on the Syrian chemical weapons crisis. The damage to America’s credibility on the world stage cannot be overstated. Regardless of how Congress votes in support of a war resolution, Obama’s self expressed plan of a limited “shot across the bow” attack on Syria is nothing more than symbolic, and his plan fails miserably to appreciate and contain the potential spread of hostilities in the region once the attack occurs.

shrinkingobamaObama’s “golf course” diplomacy and “lead from behind” leadership fails to demonstratively sell his case to the American public for military action in Syria. Speaking off the teleprompter, Obama declared a “Red Line” on any Syrian use of chemical weapons. The first “Red Line” was crossed by Syria without a notable response from President Obama, but with the latest chemical attack on a civilian population, Obama feels boxed in and is forced to call for a military strike, though limited. Obama’s decision is about saving face more than about influencing or shaping the actions of the Syrian President.

The course of action Obama is taking sends a muddled and weak message through the hallow corridors of the Pentagon, Congress, world leaders, and the Syrian government. Obama’s call for a limited approach that would not disturb the balance of power among the belligerents in Syria does nothing to enhance any US National Security interest.

The Obama team fumbled the ball from the beginning. Someone leaked vital information to the liberal media and provided a blue print of Obama’s plan of attack; thereby, broadcasting to the Syrian President that Obama doesn’t want to upset the apple cart. His plan will allow the Syrian regime adequate time to hide and disperse their chemical weapons, air defenses, and aircraft. As a military officer, I missed the tactical class on how to fight a war that taught our armed forces to first alert the enemy on what, where, and how we are going to strike them.

In sharp contrast to Obama, the Secretary of State, John Kerry, laid a plausible rational for a strong military response only to have Obama hold a hasty press conference the next day where, instead of announcing the start of hostilities against Syria, Obama punted the decision to attack back to Congress while asserting his right to use military force regardless of the US Congressional vote. How’s that for a clear concise mission statement?

Americans watched Obama’s press conference in agony as the President publically eroded the nation’s stature on live television. Obama was stunned and embarrassed by the British decision to stay out of the Syrian conflict. Feeling alone in his task after failing to garner even a lukewarm international coalition against the Syrian regime, Obama desperately sought political cover from Congress that would enable him to blame “obstructionist” Republicans in Congress if they failed to acquiesce in their support of Obama’s half baked plan to strike Syria.

President Obama illustrated his complete lack of seriousness of the Syrian crisis by quickly departing the press conference for a golf outing with Vice President Biden. Obama was so distraught over the crisis that he neglected to call back Congress to debate and vote on the war resolution. What message was Obama trying to convey with these actions?

The dog and pony show is in full force in Washington with leftist, who never voted or supported a single military incursion in support of a Republican President, stepping over each other like war hawks to support Obama while accusing any who question Obama as purveyors of race hatred.

The comedy show continued before Congress when the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff and the Secretary of State in their testimony failed to persuade Congress of what the end state of a limited “shot across the bow” military action would be. On the senate floor, Senator John McCain inserted language into the military authorization bill seeking a tougher military response, but that amendment is empty rhetoric that carries no weight with President Obama’s role as Commander-in-Chief.

Recent polls indicate the America public is adamantly against a US attack on Syria, but why? Maybe, the American people’s repository of trust and confidence in Obama’s leadership faded with each growing scandal, in particularly Obama and Hillary Clinton’s disastrous management of the Benghazi attack and their subsequent dishonest attempt to portray the Benghazi attack as the result of a video instead of a terrorist attack. We now know, Obama and Hillary knew within hours, if not minutes, that the attackers were hardcore terrorist, but they continued their lie to the American public. The Benghazi debacle coupled with stonewalling, obstruction, and fabrications associated with Fast and Furious, IRS, DOJ, and NSA scandals drained any reservoir of confidence in Obama’s leadership or his administration. Worst, Obama is either unable or unwilling to accept any personal responsibility for his own flawed actions and decisions. Do you have faith and confidence in Obama’s judgment?

On foreign policy, the mainstream media built a false narrative of a highly respected Obama, adored throughout the world for his peaceful and insightful vision. As Obama applied his vision into foreign policy initiatives, the passage of time and a dose of reality faded the fabricated Hollywood illusion of a competent American leader. Obama was exposed sympathizing more with the radical Muslim Brotherhood than old US allies. Americans are worried Obama may aide Al Qaeda linked rebel factions to take over the Syrian government.

Obama is building a legacy of miscues on the international front. His naive attempts to reset with Russia have proven to be a complete and appalling failure. In addition, Obama’s narcissistic view of his understanding of Islam in the Middle East contributed to his leadership collapse in dealing with Libya, Syria, Egypt, and Israel.

President Obama expends what little capital he has remaining in his effort to gain approval from Congress and acceptance from the international community to strike Syria, but once again he fails to shine the light on the real test for America diplomacy and his administration, and it is not Syria. As Obama’s leadership wanes in the Middle East, Iran exerts it influence and dominance over the region. Iran does not respect Obama, and worse, Iran does not fear Obama as they progress towards development of a nuclear weapon. Iran’s Nuclear Program is the “Red Line” that America and Obama must never allow crossing, but a growing number of Americans have little faith or confidence in Obama’s ability to stop Iran’s nuclear program. Given that, many Americans find sleep hard at night knowing that President Obama is at the helm for the next three years. Can anyone blame the confusion of Americans as they debate whether we should or should not intervene in Syria?

The upcoming Congressional vote to support a war resolution may well end up as a “No Confidence” vote.

About the Author

Colonel Steven B. Vitali USMC (Ret) - Military Affairs Writer - Colonel Vitali is a retired Marine Corps Colonel. He graduated from the University of South Carolina with a Master's Degree in Public Administration. Colonel Vitali joined the United States Marine Corps on 3 March 1973 and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in December 1976. He retired from the Marine Corps in July 2008. During Colonel Vitali's military career, he served in Afghanistan as the Senior Advisor to the 201st Afghan National Army Corps and served in Iraq as the Assistant Chief of Staff, Base Support Operations, II Marine Expeditionary Force Fwd.

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