The “bully pulpit” of the White House has been used by American presidents to steer the nation towards the course they wish to set. Their most important statements also serve as a window into the soul of the nation’s chief executives.
George Washington set the tone for a country ruled by laws, not men, when he proclaimed that “The Constitution is a guide which I will never abandon.” Lincoln’s revulsion to forced servitude was made clear when he stated that “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master.” Franklin D. Roosevelt refused to surrender to pessimism during the depths of the depression when he made his famous fireside chat comment that “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” John F. Kennedy inspired generations of activists when he instructed that we should “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do your country.” Ronald Reagan, confounding all the self-proclaimed experts, warned the Soviets to “tear down that wall,” an attitude which lead to the collapse of the Communist regime in Moscow.
Each of those statements was more than rhetoric. They served as the centerpiece of the nation’s policy.
That is why Mr. Obama’s stunning quote, delivered Friday to the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman, is so deeply troublesome. Speaking of his goals for the Middle East, the President stated that he wanted a resolution in which there was “no victor and no vanquished.”
Right now, thousands, and perhaps hundreds of thousands, are being murdered, tortured and raped by ISIS in Iraq. Syria’s President Bashir al Assad has used poison gas against his own people. Hamas has launched thousands of missiles against civilian targets in Israel. Iran’s leadership calls America “the Great Satan” and harbors many who plot against western targets.
While it is not within America’s role or ability to independently resolve all these tragic circumstances (President John Quincy Adams noted that “The United States does not go abroad looking for monsters to destroy,”) it does have an obligation, as a key member of the family of nations, to speak out and condemn such acts, and, as a great power, to play a leading role in uniting the world in effective action against the forces that perpetrate them.
It was highly immoral and utterly counterproductive for Mr. Obama to not express a desire to rid the world of those horrific forces committing those atrocities. Why shouldn’t any decent human being, especially the President of the United States, not wish for the vanquishing of such forces? What could possibly have been in Mr. Obama’s mind when he essentially called for a resolution that would not result in punishing these terrible actors?
For far too long, Mr. Obama’s apparent lack of a moral compass has been utterly ignored by a sycophantic media. His latest comment is a frightening glimpse into the soul of the world’s most powerful man, and what it reveals is a complete rejection of every foreign policy principle the United States has stood for.