The Commander in Chief
There hasn’t been many moments in his presidency that I have been proud of President Obama, but in the last week, he has made the type of tough decision that gives me hope that the candidate of change is capable of being a great leader for the remaining years of his presidency.
While I remain vexed at the President’s inability to deliver on his campaign promises of withdrawing from the Middle East, I embrace his acceptance of the United States’ role as a peace keeper. I have previously discussed the problem of social acceptance of violence, and I understand the ramifications of societies with a violent norm. The solution of ending a violent norm is clearly at the ground level through communication and education, but I don’t see the UN’s tactical offensive against Libya as accepting violence.
The strike was carried out to prevent the continued slaughter of Libya’s civilians. President Obama had the intestinal fortitude to prevent genocide that President Clinton lacked in the Rwandan decision post-Somalia. Instead of having his UN Ambassador asking the definition of genocide, President Obama made the decision to attack to prevent the loss of life.
While violence is deplorable on almost every level, equally deplorable is inaction when you can prevent greater harm. If the world sees the United States as a leader by allowing the United States leadership positions in almost every single international organization, then the United States needs to accept the responsibility of that role.
The genocide in Rwanda was the most disgusting and depressing incident in my life time. Inaction resulted in more deaths than action would have. A shepherd doesn’t protect his flock by having discussions with the wolves. He has a responsibility to defend because his flock’s reliance on him and because he has the ability to protect while the flock does not.
After getting a 10-5 in favor of action in additional to Arab support, it was only then that the allies of the tactical strike took action. As our commander-in-chief, President Obama was only required by law to inform Congress within 48 hours under the War Powers Resolution of 1973. It is preposterous to me that Representative Kucinich, former presidential candidate Ralph Nader, and those on the extreme left have attacked President Obama under the threat of impeachment.
Nothing he did was unconstitutional. It is also ridiculous to me that the far right has attacked President Obama under the guise of fiscal responsibility. Republicans have spent more money in the last few decades on security spending than President Obama will ever approach. Moreover, our stockpile of Tomahawk missiles came from the 1980’s and 1990’s. At this point, it is a sunk cost. The other criticism hinged on the speed in which the decision was made.
My response is that President Obama made the right decision to wait for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Arab allies, and the UN to be fully on board. The United States has far too often in the last decade taken the unilateral route in decision making. Encouraging our President to make that same mistake is foolhardy.
Maybe the hyenas are circling President Obama because they view him like a wounded antelope after a couple rough years in office, but this is our President. We should want him to succeed instead of waiting and hoping that he fails so that we can pick him apart.
While there is a fine line in operating under the guise of the United Nations and acting because we’re the only country with the ability to do so, the President must maintain the belief in a collaborative effort. The President has made the first tough decision, and I hope his walk through fire has made him strong enough to make other strong choices.
If not, I’ll exercise my power as a citizen to vote for a different person in 2012.