Obama: Reluctant wartime president
proves fallacy of American withdrawal.
Obama's 'Failed Experiment'
Proves Only America Can Maintain Order (Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Germany)
"After the ruthlessness of the Bush era and the withdrawal of the early Obama years, now comes the third iteration of American force since 9-11: The global power returns, but she has changed, she is slimmer, more sober and more realistic. ... Had the United States not intervened against the 'Islamic State,' no one would have. Obama could just as well have declared IS to be an Arab problem and focused on free trade with Asia. ... The quite legitimate German complaints with respect to NSA espionage have never been taken seriously in Washington, because everyone knows that after the next disaster at the latest, Europeans will again be extremely grateful for the U.S. security apparatus."
America is more sober, more realistic, and less ruthless than that of the Bush
years. Now, with its crackdown against Islamic State terrorists, the global
power is making a return. If the United States had not intervened against the
terrorist militia "Islamic State," no one would have.
For a time, America tried to be
Germany. The Americans have created jobs, paved their highways anew, and looked
at the world more as a field of business than a battlefield. Every now and
then, Chancellor Barack Obama considered punishing a dictator, but then in the
end didn't, because Congress didn't want him to or he
really didn't feel like it.
Now Obama has put an end to this
latest experiment of American self-discovery - with attacks on terrorists in
Syria and an unusually clear speech at the U.N. One year ago, Obama complained
about about his limited influence on the world. Now he is
calling on the terrorists to flee from the battlefield (both speeches below). Quite recently, he sought to calm the public
by saying foreign affairs only seems chaotic because of new media, but now he
warns about a systemic failure of the international system in the face of innumerable
Obama has adjusted his position. He
had to realize that he's not a chancellor who sends the Kurds a few rifles –
and only in an emergency. No, Obama is president of the United States and
therefore, as far as Americans say, leader of the free world. After the
ruthlessness of the Bush era and the withdrawal of the early Obama years, now
comes the third iteration of American force since September 11, 2001: The
global power returns, but she has changed, she is slimmer, more sober and more
Obama's America has become more
German. It is more risk averse, ensures that it has more allies, and counts its
money more frequently. Obama clearly recognizes now that the U.S. is
indispensable as guardian of a basic level of global order, but doesn't want to
assume all the responsibility and costs alone.
suspicion for half a generation
Should the world rejoice over the
return of the United States as the world police? Obama's reception at the United
Nations was rather subdued last week. Since 2001, the U.S. has garnered so much
suspicion that it could last for a half a generation. At the same time, there
was an often-silent relief in New York that in this year of epidemics, war, and
terrorism - the United States was interfering after all. This slow recognition
is appropriate. It takes into account America's weaknesses, but also her
Had the United States not
intervened against the "Islamic State," no one would have. Obama
could just as well have declared IS to be an Arab problem and focused on free
trade with Asia. But then IS would have overrun the Kurds and soon been sending
decapitation videos from Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. IS would have continued to
depict rape as good governance, fill its war chest and attract scores of young
men who confuse the Middle East with an apocalyptic video game.
wanted out - but no one else will establish order
There is no evidence that
Europeans or Arabs would have opposed this insanity on their own. Obama, who
actually hoped that the world would be more peaceful without American troops, has
rather proven the opposite: No one is prepared to establish order if America
doesn't. While the United States now attacks the terrorists' oil stores, the Bundeswehr is
to see how many of its helicopters still fly. The quite legitimate German
complaints with respect to NSA espionage have never been taken seriously in
Washington, because everyone knows that after the next disaster at the latest,
Europeans will again be extremely grateful for the U.S. security apparatus.
Of course, many causes for concern
remain over the global power. America's relationship with the rest of the world
continues to be erratic and unpredictable, fluctuating between ignorance and
alarmism. Moreover, the American people have criticized the president for
precisely the same military restraint they twice elected him for.
The deterioration of Syria was hardly
of interest to anyone in the United States, but when the Islamic State murdered
Americans, Washington's right-wingers, the frequently refuted "hawks,"
sounded as if they wanted nothing more than to bomb Syria personally. Then,
instead of talking seriously about providing a mandate for a new intervention, lawmakers
disappeared to their constituencies, where they presumably railed about Obama's
"weakness," although it was they themselves who has slunk away.
Luckily, Obama still has two
years as president. Amid all the global confusion, it pays to have a multilateralist
sitting in the White House who holds that the U.S. is only vulnerable when it
overreacts. Obama's leitmotiv "Don't do stupid stuff!" sounds so
reasonable that it could be German, and he has often been ridiculed for it. True,
his doctrine of minimal interference sometimes stood in his own way. If he had
taken care of the Middle East sooner, it wouldn't have required such an effort
to clean things up now.
Posted By Worldmeets.US
However, reason remains a good
advisor, and in the end, Obama found reasonable grounds to attack the
terrorists in Syria. He didn't want to be one of those U.S. presidents who allow
genocide to occur, and perhaps he inferred from Russian and Chinese
provocations that the U.S.-influenced postwar order was more fundamentally at
risk than he at first wanted to believe. If he had continued to remain ambivalent,
Russia may have pressured the Baltic States next, China the Japanese, and the
Islamic State the Jordanians.
supporter, not an architect
Obama now wages a different kind
of war than those waged by George W. Bush. Bush overestimated American power.
Obama, on the other hand, is convinced that this power is finite. He now leads
a high-tech war from the air, for the time being without ground troops - an
intensified version of previous drone tactics. He sees himself as a supporter
who is resolving a security problem, not as an architect who does it all
The limitations and
contradictions of Obama's Middle East strategy are obvious. In his speech to
the U.N., he correctly analyzed the extent and causes of extremism in the
Muslim world, but he also explained that ultimately, the problem can only be resolved
by Muslims themselves.
Obama will confine himself to
curbing IS so that it causes the least amount of damage. This is containment
and not much more. So instead of promising victory over the "network of
death," Obama should honestly tell his people and the world that we are a
long way from rolling out a "mission accomplished" banner - and that
we may never roll one out. That would express what Obama believes anyway, as
well as what essentially defines America's return: A superpower that wants to
remain a superpower, but understands that it is not an infinite power.