Guy W. Farmer: How to not to lead from behind

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My favorite political columnist, Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post, recently wrote a column titled “Is it ‘Patience’ or is it just ‘Inaction?’” about President Obama’s leadership (if that’s the right word) style. Dr. Krauthammer, who was a psychiatrist before becoming a columnist, wrote that the president’s reaction to “turmoil abroad … has been alarming passivity,” and that should concern everyone who’s interested in homeland security and national defense.

“Obama calls his policy ‘strategic patience,’” Krauthammer wrote. “That’s a synonym for ‘inaction,’ made to sound profoundly ‘strategic.’” That’s how the president explained his strategy as Russia pushed deeper into eastern Ukraine after ISIS burned a Jordanian pilot to death and Iran extended its hegemony over four Arab capitals — Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and Sana’a. Other than that, there’s nothing to worry about and that Obama had time to play with a “selfie stick” in the Oval Office.

As Russia sent tanks and rocket launchers to Ukraine, we sent humanitarian aid that included blankets, MREs and grief counselors. Earlier, when world leaders marched in Paris to condemn Islamic terrorists, our president was absent. But several days later Obama sent oh-so-sensitive Secretary of State John Kerry to Paris to deliver a big hug to French President Francois Hollande, and Kerry took musician James Taylor with him to sing “You’ve Got a Friend” in what was accurately described as a “cringe-worthy” diplomatic moment. Obama declined to send anti-tank and other defensive weapons to Ukraine, Krauthammer argued, “because we’re afraid that arming the victim of aggression will anger the aggressor. Such appeasement goes well with linguistic appeasement whereby Obama dares not call radical Islam by name, and whereby the White House and State Department … insist that the attack on a kosher grocery store in Paris had nothing to do with Jews. It was just, as the president said, someone ‘randomly shooting a bunch of folks in a deli.’” And then Obama administration spokespeople clumsily avoided any mention of religion after Islamic jihadists beheaded 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya.

Following Kerry’s weird “kumbaya” moment in Paris President Obama made a moral equivalence argument about Christianity and radical Islam at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. Before we condemn the atrocities of others, he cautioned, we shouldn’t “get on our high horse” because Christians committed atrocities during the Crusades and the Inquisition a thousand years ago.

“In a rare rhetorical feat, Obama managed to combine the banal and the repulsive,” Krauthammer commented. “A Coalition POW is burned alive and the reaction of the alliance leader … is essentially, ‘Hey, but what about Joan of Arc?’” Krauthammer recalled Obama’s 2009 “world apology tour” in which our president “indicted his own country … for dismissiveness toward Europe, for maltreatment of natives, for torture, for Hiroshima, for Guantanamo, for unilateralism, and for insufficient respect for the Muslim world.”

Obama’s spokespersons claim he’s “leading from behind,” but many of us see a lack of leadership that sends a message of weakness and vacillation to our friends and enemies around the world. Because, as Krauthammer wrote, “once you’ve undermined your own country’s moral self-confidence, you cannot lead.” Amen!

If our response to Islamo-fascists who burn their prisoners to death or cut off their heads is to apologize for sins committed by Christians a thousand years ago, we’re in trouble because our friends can’t trust us and our enemies perceive us as weak and indecisive. And President Obama calls it “strategic patience.” How sad! I look forward to real, inspiring leadership from a new president of either party in Jan., 2017. Yes, I’m seeking hope and change.

Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, is the Appeal’s senior political columnist.


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