“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, February 28, 2011

Obama's Washington appears weak, rudderless, confused and navel-gazing

Do tyrants fear America anymore? President Obama’s timid foreign policy is an embarrassment for a global superpower

The d├ębacle of Washington’s handling of the Libya issue is symbolic of a wider problem at the heart of the Obama administration’s foreign policy. The fact that it took ten days and at least a thousand dead on the streets of Libya’s cities before President Obama finally mustered the courage to call for Muammar “mad dog” Gaddafi to step down is highly embarrassing for the world’s only superpower, and emblematic of a deer-in-the-headlights approach to world leadership. Washington seems incapable of decisive decision-making on foreign policy at the moment, a far cry from the days when it swept entire regimes from power, and defeated America’s enemies with deep-seated conviction and an unshakeable drive for victory.

Just a few years ago the United States was genuinely feared on the world stage, and dictatorial regimes, strategic adversaries and state sponsors of terror trod carefully in the face of the world’s most powerful nation. Now Washington appears weak, rudderless and frequently confused in its approach. From Tehran to Tripoli, the Obama administration has been pathetically slow to lead, and afraid to condemn acts of state-sponsored repression and violence. When protesters took to the streets to demonstrate against the Islamist dictatorship in Iran in 2009, the brutal repression that greeted them was hardly a blip on Barack Obama’s teleprompter screen, barely meriting a response from a largely silent presidency.

In contrast to Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, President Obama fails to see the United States as an exceptional nation, with a unique role in leading the free world and standing up to tyranny. In his speeches abroad he has frequently found fault with his own country, rather than projecting confidence in American greatness. From Cairo to Strasbourg he has adopted an apologetic tone rather than demonstrating faith in America as a shining city upon a hill, a beacon of freedom and liberty. A leader who lacks pride in his own nation’s historic role as a great liberator simply cannot project strength abroad.

It has also become abundantly clear that the Obama team attaches little importance to human rights issues, and in contrast to the previous administration has not pursued a freedom agenda in the Middle East and elsewhere. It places far greater value upon engagement with hostile regimes, even if they are carrying out gross human rights abuses, in the mistaken belief that appeasement enhances security. This has been the case with Iran, Russia and North Korea for example. This administration has also been all too willing to sacrifice US leadership in deference to supranational institutions such as the United Nations, whose track record in standing up to dictatorships has been virtually non-existent.

The White House’s painful navel-gazing on Libya last week, with even the French adopting a far tougher stance, is cause for grave concern. The Obama administration’s timid approach to foreign policy is the last thing the world needs at a time of mounting turmoil in the Middle East, including the growing threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, and Islamist militancy on the rise from Egypt to Yemen. US leadership is now needed more than ever, but has embarrassingly gone AWOL on the world stage.


  1. The article misses a point that I find abundantly clear: Obama wants the USA to crumble, he wants us to be a second or third rate nation. He doesn't have any historical perspective because he has no allegiance to the USA, even though he took an oath of office.
    He is gleeful that our energy costs are on the way to doubling, and won't life a pen to allow us to drill for our own security. No, this particuar president is anti-American all the way. I don't know why he was elected, and I pray every night that he is defeated in 2012. He does not hold a candle to the strength of George W Bush

  2. How did Obama's Motown night go?

  3. "As Motown rose, so did the forces of change in this country. During that time, it was the time of King and Kennedy, it was a time of marches and rallies and groundbreaking civil rights laws. And Motown's music was so much more than just a soundtrack. It was a heartbeat. ...

    Motown helped pave the way for people in this country to look at one another a little differently, because something changed when little girls all across the country saw Diana Ross on the Ed Sullivan Show. ...

    These are true trailblazers, because as you know, there wouldn't be an Usher if there wasn't a Smokey Robinson. You know, there wouldn't be an Alicia Keys without a Gladys Knight.

    But the thing that I want you all to remember is that nobody's name is printed on the Billboard Top 10 at birth. Nobody is born into this. Neither Mr. Gordy nor Smokey Robinson were born into greatness or wealth. Diana Ross grew up in a housing project. And John Legend is the son of a seamstress and a factory worker. And they are good people.

    But they've shown us that with enough hard work and a willingness to take some risks, anyone can make it. And this isn't just true for careers in entertainment or sports. The Motown story is really a metaphor for life."


  4. President Obama said in a written statement that he and first lady Michelle Obama were inspired by Buckles' service and life story. "Just as Frank continued to serve America until his passing, as the honorary chairman of the World War I Memorial Foundation, our nation has a sacred obligation to always serve our veterans and their families as well as they've served us."


    In 1941, while moving cargo for the American President Lines in Manila, he was captured in the Japanese invasion of the Philippines. During 3½ years as a prisoner of war, he led the other prisoners in exercises.

    "What is important in an emergency is to know how to survive," he told Stars & Stripes.

    National Memorial

  5. Ronald W. Reagan was rudderless in Lebanon.

    GW Bush took the wheel and set the course, in Iraq.

    Neither worked out exceptionally well, for US.

    Steady as she goes.

  6. That should come with a warning for people at work.

  7. I've just popped into the Medglow spa for a spray tan - I'm looking forward to tonight's Blanc d' Blanc party at The Plaza. Its going to be the bash of the week.

    Did you know the Green Room where all the stars hang out is stocked with water and there's an alcohol ban? The 'Sage of Omaha' Warren Buffett shared views on his Berkshire Hathaway investment vehicle and to share his thoughts.

    Later, I will be at the fab party at the Four Seasons hanging out with Kim Kardashian and Charlie She Han. Great fun -
    looking forward to the big bow at the White House. I have to go now.

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