Raising the Standard.

Lagging Leadership

Squirming under scrutiny? Photo: Pete Souza)

If the conflict in Syria has taught us anything, it is that President Barack Obama’s foreign policy doctrine has failed. Whether one believes the United States should intervene in the Syrian conflict or not, it is clear that President Obama’s handling of the situation has been an embarrassment to the United States and its citizens. President Obama has let his people down, but how did it happen so fast? The President’s lack of leadership and inability to act in a timely manner with regard to the unfolding Syrian situation betrays the many faults in his foreign policy. The once-mighty diplomat is mighty no more and it shows in his foreign policy approval ratings, which are at an all-time low. President Obama himself is to blame.

President Obama started down this path when he could not keep his word. After stating that chemical weapons use by the Syrian regime was “crossing the red line” of international diplomacy, one would assume that President Obama would follow through with his word; however, this has not been the case. When the “red line” was crossed and chemical weapons were used against both rebel forces and civilians, President Obama folded his cards — when Assad called his bluff, he caved. He blew an opportunity to legitimize himself to the international community, and now his word, effectively the word of the United States, looks weak.

This has proven especially true in recent days, as the president attempted to exonerate himself by saying he never drew a red line for Syrian action (even though this is surely false.)

The Editors: What indeed.

The president is desperate for a way out, and if that requires brokering a deal with Bashar al-Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin, what of it?

President Obama’s inability to take decisive, timely action has also proven a big issue for him in the Syrian crisis. As time ticked on, President Obama lost tremendous amounts of support and credibility from both the international community and his people, including Democrats in Congress. It could be argued he took a calculated risk by waiting out the situation, but waiting for over two weeks to address the American people about such an important issue is simply too long. It took the United Kingdom’s David Cameron less than a week to address the public and at least register a vote. Although, much like Cameron in the UK, President Obama may have lost an early vote for action, action then (when support for his position, however vague, was at its peak) would not have been as great a humiliation for him as it is now. What the American people wanted to see was some sort of plan or motion from their executive head; unfortunately, this took too long to transpire.

President Obama has failed the United States as a leader. He has let his allies down. He has even let many of his Democratic friends down. What happens from here with President Obama’s Syria doctrine will be critical to his legacy in the eyes of the world and his people. Has all credibility been lost? Just ask Vladimir Putin. He determines our country’s foreign policy now.

—Russell Dye is a junior studying political science.