Ever since President Obama uttered those ill fated words about a red line that when crossed would lead to U.S. intervention in Syria- he has received criticism from both sides of the issue. On one side are those who elected him in part because of his promise to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and bring peace through diplomacy and reason- and according to the polls, many if not most Americans support this policy. However he is under attack from the other side for not taking charge as the Leader of the Free World should and making the hard decision to act now that Assad has crossed that red line in his use of chemical weapons.
In the ensuing debate the president has been characterized as weak, indecisive, and unskilled in the handling of foreign relations. No matter which way he goes on this decision, he will be criticized- so it’s also been said that he’s unable to handle the blowback and unpopularity that go with the job. However, by examining the President’s emphasis on diplomacy and his campaign promise of change in how we deal with our allies and enemies alike-another very probable reason for his struggle becomes evident.
The President has no heart for war- the loss of life, gross waste of our nation’s resources, and the terrible aftermath that it leaves behind in the lives of so many. Barack Obama the man presents as a pacifist who has consistently expressed his belief that we should not have become involved in the conflicts he inherited- and all of his actions since first being elected have been in line with that belief. He has withdrawn all combat forces from Iraq; after reluctantly agreeing to a troop surge to hasten a win in Afghanistan; he is now reducing troop size with the goal of going from a combat force to a support role by 2014; his adamant “no boots on the ground” stance in the Libya crisis, his consistent efforts to involve our allies and the UN in any military decisions in order avoid yet another conflict that the United States will own- and his increasing use of intelligence to keep us safe and drones to target specific threats while minimizing our military involvement and the resulting loss of life and treasure.
The struggle we are seeing looks like an internal one in which Obama is searching for the right way to send a message that we and the world will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons by Syria or any country that may be considering using them. His words are loud and clear, but his actions show doubt and uncertainty. But is this weakness or is it the behavior of a man who wants to do what is right as long as his country does not end up paying a terrible price for it?