Yesterday morning, President Barack Obama gave a Holocaust remembrance speech at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. which followed a moving speech and call from Eli Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and author of the famous book "Night" for leadership from the United States in a direct way, to quell the violence currently taking place in the Middle East, specifically in Syria.
"How is it that Assad is still in power?" Weisel asked, rather pointedly, rather than rhetorically. "How is it that the Holocaust's number one denier, Ahmadinejad is still a president? He who threatens to use nuclear weapons--to use nuclear weapons--to destroy the Jewish state. Have we not learned? We must. We must know that when evil has power, it is almost too late."
Such a strong call to action from such a strong and powerful Jewish figurehead in the United States (and World) was likely met with surprise from the President's prep team (and certainly his speechwriter).
In his speech, President Obama laid out two plans of actions going forward from his Administration. The first, was the announcement of an executive order that would place sanctions on any country that uses social media intelligence against its own people. The second? The President announced the construction of the "first-ever" Atrocities Prevention Board, who's task will be among other things, to come up with a "National Intelligence Estimate on the risk of mass atrocities and genocide." The President also claimed that this Board will encourage the Treasury Department to block funds from abusive regimes, and my personal favorite, allow the State Department to, "increase its ability to surge our diplomats and experts in a crisis." Whatever that means.
I could go one of two or three ways, I could make fun of the President for trying to kill a scorpion with a fly swatter, I could look further and do an in depth analysis of exactly what he'd want to see done. The only problem there, is, I can't. This President's middle name is "Vague".
Instead what I'll say is this. I am ashamed. I am ashamed, not that this man is our President, but that we have a man occupying the Presidency, the most important position in the world, who's response to every major crises that doesn't involve shovel ready jobs, is to create a "commission" or a "task force" or some new "board" which does nothing but expand the Federal Bureaucracy faster than Pizza Hut's lunch buffet expands my waistline in the afternoon.
If it weren't already stark and apparent to you, the meat and potatoes of his speech at the Holocaust Museum illustrates just how mutually exclusive the terms "leadership" and "Barack Obama" are. President Obama treats the Presidency like a senior in high school who will easily graduate treats their final semester. When the subject matters of interest to them come up and require action, they do everything in their power to work hard, and even cut corners to get it done. But when the subject is something they don't really care about, or view as ancillary to their duty? At best, they half-ass it, pay it lip service, "show up," gladly taking their "B".
This is how Obama views matters of foreign policy. What happened Qaddafi threatened additional violence to those in Benghazi when violence in Libya had already claimed the lives of thousands? The first reaction from the Obama Administration was to what? Give a speech! The President (in front of the world) decried any moves from Qaddafi to further hurt his people, and that the United States was duty bound to protect the innocent Libyans from slaughter, but par for the course, his actions didn't match the words. The speech was roundly treated as an example of his great speechiness, but when substance was analyzed what came of it? The United States, would lead from behind and we know what happened from there. It's incredibly important to remember that this action, and all the actions in the process that led to Qaddafi's capture and ultimate death were all based on threats, THREATS! from Qaddafi.
When it comes to Syria, the President, up until he faced the audience at the Holocaust Museum, had for the most part been utterly silent. Bashar al-Assad has been killing his own people for nearly a year, it isn't hypothetical, there were no threats, yet we aren't even leading from behind on this one! The 11,000 dead are real, they aren't threatened to be dead, they're dead. What has been his response over the course of the year? Speeches of course! Full of linguistic loveliness and open promises that, "We will not stand idly by." What the hell has he been doing for the past year? Hint: HE'S BEEN STANDING IDLY BY.
The Holocaust Museum hosts him for a Remembrance Day speech, and he finally brings some substance! He's going to do something to show Assad! He's going to establish this Atrocities Prevention Board, of course! Joyous Day!
Now, I'm not sure how many Syrians paused to drop their Molotov cocktail to check abcnews.com but those who did I am sure were overwhelmed with glee and felt a renewed sense of comfort knowing that the leader of the free world's solution to their life-threatening situation is bringing a bunch of Washington bureaucrats together to talk about how terrible it is the Syrian people are having to fend for their lives in the face of a monomaniacal dictator. Meanwhile, the Russians, our "allies" are supplying Assad and his minions with weapons on a weekly basis, the Iranians are financing the bloodshed as well as chipping in their own guns and ammo, and the United States, with its measly Navy and Armed Forces capabilities, armed with Obama's "duty to protect" has established an Attrocities Prevention Board at the White House.
The President's decision to establish more bureaucracy as a way of coping with the bloodshed in Syria and elsewhere throughout the world is quite simply embarrassing.
Time and again this President has had opportunities to show great leadership and has not only failed to do so, but has not even acknowledge the specific instances in which leadership was required.
Leaders show courage in the face of adversity, they make decisions out of conviction, even when they know the decision is going to be potentially detrimental to them in the short term.
The President was presented with an opportunity by a man who survived organized extinction in Europe in the 1940s to take decisive, bold, action against the world's latest Hitler. The President punted, instead opting for the safest of roads, creating what amounts to a study group that will examine the breadth of evil across the world.
To me, there is nothing more central to being a leader than acknowledging a problem that you have the resources to solve, and using those resources effectively to fix the problem.
President Obama has the resources available to him at the push of a phone button (maybe two) that will set into effect, a course of action that will end the brutal and ongoing murder of the Syrian people by a man that claims to have their best interests at heart.
He's not using those resources. As long as he continues to "sit idly by," and trust government bureaucrats to solve gun fights with picnic knives, President Obama and Leadership, should never be uttered in the same thought, let alone the same sentence.