Sunday, September 16, 2012

Obama and the use of force

I don't understand the Republican critique of Obama's national security policy -- nor is it at all clear what a President Romney would do differently in terms of using force.

One Romney campaign official said last week that the anti-American riots in the Arab world would not have occurred if Romney were president. Really?

Eliot Cohen, a colleague of mine at SAIS who is a distinguished historian and now a Romney campaign adviser, pens a piece in the Washington Post that combines harsh words -- "hypocrisy," "unseemliness," "cringe-inducing" -- with few hard facts. Cohen blames the administration for "passivity" on Iran and Syria, as if Romney would be sending troops and bombers. He doesn't mention Libya, where Romney was for and against Obama's successful policy to oust Qaddafi without prolonged military involvement.

A more balanced analysis is in the Los Angeles Times in an article by Paul Richter. He says, quite rightly in my view, that Obama acts cautiously and tries to act in concert with others. Some unnamed aide once stupidly labeled this "leading from behind," but that does not connote the leadership required to assemble such coalitions.

1 comment:

  1. When the oppertunity presented itself in Iran, Obama did little overtly to help the students shift the political climent last year. Though some things may have happened behind the scenes, it is the public mood, emotions and energy which drive such events. Controlling the narrative in the open media while managing the resources behind the scenes is how such things are done. Both of theses things are done as a result of great advanced planing, not seeing the house on fire and asking how to use the fire hose.

    In this regard, President Obama does lead from behind, waiting to see how the political winds will blow, and wha t the polls say is the easy way out.