Obama’s Struggle to Improve His Legacy

Peace and Freedom Commentary

By John Francis Carey

There is something very tragic and pathetic about President Barack Obama. Ever since he said, “I would take it as a personal insult to my legacy if you don’t vote for Hillary Clinton,” we knew he was about to become a tragic actor in the cruel reality of democracy in action.

In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, everyone dies.

The unraveling Obama administration — and its legacy — looks much the same today.

There’s no happy outcome here.

Today, President Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice seemed to be begging with Russia to stop the bombing of Aleppo. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a kind of public grovelling by a U.S. official.

But the truth is this: President Obama has dragged out the death and destruction in the Middle East by his own inability to bring U.S. forces or the forces of our allies to bear in an effective way.

Compared to the 1991 U.S.-led coalition to defeat Saddam Hussein in Kuwait, an invasion guided by “The Powell Doctrine of Overwhelming Firepower,” President Obama’s manner of “war” has looked like timid child’s play — played out piecemeal without a strategic architecture — and a deadly disaster for America’s reputation and for any human beings unfortunate enough to be hit in the very real crossfire.

Historians usually get to decide these things, but since President Obama is so transfixed on his legacy, we’ll be the first historian to weigh in: President Obama created the situation we see now in Syria when he failed to enforce his “red line” in Syria date. When President Obama balked, Vladimir Putin came off the bench in a big hurry and in a big way. He decided that Russia would win one for Bashar al-Assad in Syria — the Russian way. By humiliating the “leader of the free world,” his military and his people.

Putin even got to base Russian air force bombers briefly in Iran — to show the world that the prolonged international nuclear deal negotiations with Iran really didn’t favor the U.S. and its allies much at all.

President Obama said Putin would end up in a quagmire. But it is President Obama’s legacy that is mired in the quagmire, and death and destruction he allowed. Death and destruction that could have been mitigated by better use of the tools at hand.

Since Russia took the initiative (or President Obama gave it away) in Syria, think of the children killed, people dead and maimed. And think about the largest migration of refugees since World War II. An influx of people that has destabilized Europe, fractured the European Union, stressed NATO and pleased Mr. Putin greatly. Britain’s impending departure from the EU (Brexit) was, at least in part, a done deal once Europe became enmeshed in the migrant and refugee crisis that continues still until today.

More than 340 people “went missing” in the Mediterranean Sea last week. That’s the nice way of saying drowned unnecessarily.

By allowing the Islamic State to continue to defy the global super-power, the world ended up with Boko Haram, more al-Shabaab terrorism, and instability across much of Africa. Many decided to head for Europe.

And Europe is abuzz with the rise of “far right extremists” like AfD in Germany and Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France.

The spark that set much of this off was in the Middle East.

If historians can find a way to account for the lives lost unnecessarily since President Obama decided to give Syria to Putin, we’ll know his legacy.

Charming Angela Merkel won’t atone one bit for the mess created.

President Obama must be hoping he’ll be vindicated by historians that heap praise upon him for the Iran nuclear deal and other “good works.”

But that likelihood already seems to be diminishing.

Our advice for Susan Rice and Barack Obama is this: leave gracefully. The judgement on your legacy started on November 8.

It’s likely to be downhill from here. No amount of spin can change things now.

President Obama charming Angela Merkel last week in Germany.

See also:

Obama reportedly declined to enforce red line in Syria after Iran threatened to back out of nuclear deal
http://www.businessinsider.com/obama-red-line-syria-iran-2016-8

President Obama and the ‘red line’ on Syria’s chemical weapons
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2013/09/06/president-obama-and-the-red-line-on-syrias-chemical-weapons/

Threat to Legacy Gives Obama Powerful Motive to Stump for Hillary Clinton
The NYT http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/27/us/politics/obama-legacy.html?_r=0

Related:

“Obama was hoping to end his presidency on a high note, but with Trump’s stunning upset and widespread uncertainty about what’s to come, the mood will be far from celebratory,” said Michael Shifter, the president of the Inter-American Dialogue. “Some of Obama’s [Latin American] legacy, including the thaw with Cuba, could be at risk.”

If the legacy is so fragile that it might be reversed even before the end of Mr. Obama’s term it must not be made of very lasting stuff….

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