Obama's bungling response to world events

Janet Daley:

Why on earth did the President of the United States convene a press conference apparently designed to reassure the leaders of Isil, and Vladimir Putin, that America was not about to do any of the things that they feared? There are really only two possible interpretations, neither of them edifying.

The first and most obvious is that the Obama team is hopelessly divided. This became embarrassingly evident when the grotesque murder of the American journalist James Foley by Isil landed the Middle East crisis right on the nation’s doorstep. Mr Obama offered a five-minute blast of rhetorical outrage (before returning to the golf course) but notably no material change in US policy. Then things got rather more confusing.

His defence secretary, Chuck Hagel, stated that Isil was an “imminent threat” to US interests and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey, sitting next to him, delivered a thunderous declaration of the need to confront Isil in Syria: “This is an organisation that has an apocalyptic, end-of-days vision that will have to be defeated.” He went on, “Can they be defeated without addressing that part of the organisation that resides in Syria? The answer is no.”

By the next day, both Mr Hagel and Mr Dempsey were, as the Americans say, “walking back” their fateful pronouncements. Isil was now just a “regional threat” with no immediate consequences for US national security.

Then, just to add to the incoherence, the White House Deputy National Security Adviser, Ben Rhodes, proclaimed that the killing of James Foley constituted “a terrorist attack” on the US and said: “We’re actively considering what’s going to be necessary to deal with that threat and we’re not going to be restricted by borders.”

The world’s one remaining superpower seems not only incapable of deciding what to do: it can’t even decide what to say. This is a picture of confusion and contradiction which is quite terrifying in the global circumstances in which we find ourselves.
... The hallmark of the Obama presidency in foreign policy has been a refusal to decide and a failure to act.
Obama has become more reluctant to act as the choices he has made before turned out badly and he is losing faith in his own judgment.  He seems the fear the consequences of action more than the consequences of not deciding and doing nothing.


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