Just as the likes of Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, and Harry S. Truman helped sell the American vision that would move Europe beyond the vicious cycle of ever escalating wars with each other, President Obama followed action against the Islamic State in Syria by asserting the United States as the leader of all nations willing to take on globalized terrorism.
In essence, he is selling the Muslim world the same American vision of a united, peace-seeking International Community that his predecessors once sold Europeans. Because the US is offering a vision beyond fulfilling American interests and leaders of the Middle East now see the dangers associated with unchecked terrorism, political leaders appear extremely receptive to what the US President had to say.
In doing so, Obama also managed to chastise Russia for its involvement in the Ukraine Crisis while building the diplomatic framework needed to address China’s increasingly aggressive behavior. In truth, those who believe “might makes right” are actually correct, but what people like President Obama and this writer argue is that the might of a united world can make right all the good things America has long preached.
Where Putin’s efforts to dominate a Westernizing Ukraine, which it is important to recognize the Russian culture has been assimilating Western trends as well, would be acceptable under the Nineteenth Century mindset the Kremlin seems to be operating under, the majority of the world seeks the American vision of a stable International Community where all nations, no matter how weak, are free to govern.
That said, President Obama has failed to clearly address those who would use the threat of terrorism to oppress their Peoples. Just as the Edward Snowden NSA revelations demonstrated the willingness of hardliners in America’s intelligence community to seize upon the threat of terrorism to dismiss the rights of people, inappropriate reactions by the British and the rest of Europe to terrorist threats are putting them back on the path of oppression when it comes to minorities and dissenters.
Given that the governance failures in the Middle East revolve around both terrorism and the failure of governments to serve the interests of their Peoples, i.e. what caused the Arab Spring Revolutions, it is essential for world leaders like President Obama to leave no room for tyrannical governments to use national security as an excuse to oppress dissent and nonviolent people holding “extreme” views.
Furthermore, President Obama has discovered actions followed by words, versus words followed by actions, make him a leader on the international stage. Clearly, he should embrace this strategy at home, despite the reality that an unwilling Congress stands in the way of any significant progress. Unfortunately, the President tried to be far too conciliatory at the wrong times while he failed to adequately address valid criticism as he over focused on undue criticism.
Moving forward, President Obama must, therefore, lead on the world stage, and at home, by building a platform on what he is doing and what he is going to do. More importantly, he must be willing to make mistakes and correct those mistakes by adding them into his leadership platform without openly second-guessing himself. More importantly, the rest of the world’s leaders must do the same in order for the International Community to start addressing the lengthy backlog of crises that have been left to fester for too long.