Written on Saturday, October 6, 2012 by Brian Bosché
By pursuing love and popularity, President Obama has dashed our foreign policy and embraced sheepish naivety. He’s created a rise in hate and anti-American feelings in a Middle East set ablaze. In Egypt and Libya, he attempted purchasing “allies” in the Muslim Brotherhood—an organization with oft-cited connections to terrorist groups.
Quoting his mother at the 2012 Republican Convention, Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) said:
“… [T]here would be times in your life when you have to choose between being loved and being respected. She said to always pick being respected, that love without respect was always fleeting ….”
Our President has chosen that which is fleeting. He chose coolness, the lessening of America’s leadership prowess, and the dampening of our excellence, innovation and position on the world stage. More than anything, he squandered our best tool: peace through strength.
In 2009, President Obama largely defined his Middle East foreign policy in his speech at Cairo University in Egypt. He said:
“I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”
The speech encapsulated themes of “we’re all in this together” and foolish dreams of a world without nuclear weapons. Overall, it represented apology and appeasement.
More than anything, the Cairo address lacked a message of leadership. For example, he said, “America will align our policies with those who pursue peace … [italics added].” Instead of carrying the big stick—not being afraid to use it—the President essentially communicated that America will jump on the bandwagon of anybody who leads for peace. He simply refused to demand respect.
Fast forward. In 2011, the U.S. provided $25 million in non-lethal support to rebels seeking to overthrow Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi. Our military intervention cost an estimated $896 million. Worse, the rebels admitted that some fighters had links to al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood now runs the new government.
In 2012, the U.S. gave $1.5 billion in military and economic aid to Egypt’s transition. Following Hosni Mubarak, Mohamed Morsi (also from the Muslim Brotherhood) took over as the nation’s president.
So do we have the “new beginning” our President spoke of? How about the “mutual respect”? On the eleventh anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, radicals assaulted our Libyan Embassy—killing Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others. They struck with rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and AK-47s. It was calculated and deliberate.
In the immediate aftermath, the President and his national security team pandered—blaming the spontaneous airing of a “movie” poking fun at the prophet Mohammed. The administration’s conclusion was that the attack simply arose out of a protest over the video. Right, because most protestors show up with rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and AKs.
The President’s actual response was worse than the pandering. He said, “While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants.”
Translation: “You bad, bad ‘protestors.’ We condemn your actions (whatever that means). But just in case you were upset about that ‘movie’ which was created under our Constitutional Right to Freedom of Expression here in the United States, we’re sorry.” I’m just sure that radical Islamists everywhere are trembling at the sound of his voice.
On Twitter, columnist Matt Barber put it this way: “Under Reagan, there’d now be a 15 block crater where the Libyan Embassy used to be. Under Obama, we apologize to our enemies #Weakness.”
More recently, the United Nations welcomed leaders from around the world and specifically, the Middle East. In an interview with the New York Times, Egypt’s President Morsi indicated he wouldn’t be as compliant as former President Mubarak when working with the U.S. So much for our $1.5 billion to support an “ally’s” transition. By the way, we’re cutting them another check for $450 million.
As the Middle East burns, our President is absent. His weakness and refusal to lead on a message of peace through strength (in a way only America can) has emboldened radical Islamists. And though a president’s first responsibility is to protect the American People, President Obama has eroded our deterrent effect and ability to command respect.
Juris Doctor Candidate, 2013
Vice President, Student Bar Association
Liberty University School of Law