Recently, syndicated conservative columnist Michael Gerson complained America was “at war with no leader.” He condemned the Obama administration for the tragedy in Libya, and the sad deaths of our Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other embassy workers.
It is Obama’s lack of leadership that resulted in this debacle. Gerson accused the current administration of minimizing, or even ignoring, the “ongoing escalating global conflict with radical Islamist groups.” Gerson accuses Obama of either incompetence or deception; of being a “war- time president” who refuses to be a wartime leader.
Perhaps Gerson would recommend a leader like America had on Sept. 12, 2001. There was an action-prone chief executive. America was cruelly and stealthily attacked on 9/11/01 by 19 young Muslim fanatics, mostly of Saudi Arabia, who had been recruited by and financed by a diabolical billionaire from Saudi Arabia. By commandeering several passenger airliners, these 19 young radicals slammed them into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, and into the Pennsylvania hills on their way to destroying the White House or Capitol. These Muslim terrorists had viciously wounded America!
Something dramatic needed to be done in response to this horrid aggression. The then-president surely acted the part of a “wartime leader.” He himself decided to launch two unnecessary, immoral and totally unjustified wars on two small Arab nations who had nothing to do with the attack upon America: first Iraq and then Afghanistan. Now finally in 2012 the first conquest is declared over with nothing accomplished, and the second continues to fester and be fatal to young Americans. This “war-time president” did announce his great victory when aboard a U.S. Carrier he swooped down in a Naval helicopter, to the cheers of the sailors and a large banner announcing “mission accomplished!” Of course, such bravado was just that: bravado, a total farce. After some 7,000 American fatalities in Iraq, and more than 2,000 in Afghanistan, the only thing accomplished was to intensify, multiply, and solidify Muslim hatred for all things American. Where the original 9/11 assault was to retaliate against America for its unhalting and unhesitant support of Israel, now because of the Bush invasions, conquests, occupations and destruction of their countries, the people of the mid-East just hate America because of what we have done to them.
Further, this “war-time president” deepened the hostility toward America by referring to our invasions as Crusades, which sparked a long-time seething Muslim memory of the time when Christians massacred Muslims for Jesus.
That thoughtless remark only poured gasoline on the flickering flame of animosity. Plus, this “war-time leader” didn’t know much about the enemy he chose for America to wage war upon. He didn’t know a “Shiite from a Sunni” Muslim. He somehow missed the fact that the Sunni Saddam Hussein of Iraq was a force to keep the Shiite militants of Iran in check. When this war-time leader removed Saddam he opened the gates for Iran and Iraq to become allies against America.
Page 2 of 3 - This “escalating global conflict with radical Islamists groups” was spawned by the thoughtless, compulsive, obsessive decisions by the “war-time” president who preceded Obama. This was the deadly, threatening and ominous hatred left to Obama to quell. The world might not survive another “war-time leader” like George W. Bush. Is this Gerson’s ideal of a war-time president?
In President Obama, America now has a man committed to thoughtful evaluation and prudent planning. He repeatedly has shown that he believes in negotiation rather than confrontation.
Unlike Bush, Obama has no grandiose dreams of being a “war-time president,” who can be remembered among the great military heroes. President Obama echoes the thoughts of the great Benjamin Franklin, who said so well, “There is no good war, and there is no bad peace.” Our President is a man of peace; that is why early in his administration he was awarded the “Nobel Peace Prize.” The world recognized that America was finally led by a man who would weigh carefully any use of force, and would expend all manner of means to avoid armed conflict. Sadly, Obama was bequeathed a world frothing with hatred toward his country because of the compulsive aggression of his predecessor.
The destruction of Iraq has only accomplished a deepening of the contempt of the Iraqi’s toward us. The same is true of Afghan’s.
We’ve provided al-Quida, and its ilk, with abundant ongoing motivation for recruitment and with heightened intense passion for terrorist suicide attacks upon American facilities.
We’ve used “drone” attacks to destroy specific targets or particular persons. The Bush wars, however, have made drone attacks only additional fodder from which to draw terrorist bombers. Now the Shiite’s of Iran, with the Shiite’s in Iraq, are close to building a nuclear bomb.
The U.S. has declared it will not allow the completion of that weapon of mass destruction. It has been suggested that we turn lose Israel, the only mid-eastern nation with nuclear weapons, and let the Israeli’s surgically bomb any Iranian nuclear facility, thus greatly increasing the risk of a much broader conflict in the area. Perhaps Gerson would call for an all out attack by American troops on Libya or Iran and give a definitive response to the terrorists.
If our model of a “war- time leader” is the president’s predecessor, such a foolish attack might be launched. Thanks be to God, this time we don’t have an obsessive compulsive president.
Barack Obama is at the helm of State, and his is a steady hand that will guide America and the world through this crisis. We don’t need a “war-time leader;” we need the man of peace we have to continue to be our leader. Let peace prevail!
Page 3 of 3 - Fr. Bob Layne is a retired Episcopal Priest living in McPherson.