Led by a Follower: The Danger of a Weak President

Only after nearly two weeks of criticism from the international community and conservatives at home did President Obama abandon his “engagement” policy with the thugs in Iran and strongly condemn the regime's actions. Again, Mr. Obama had to be led before standing for American ideals. Yet a few months later Obama made his first speech before the UN General Assembly, where he called for a “new era of engagement with the world" – he was still leaving the door open to rogue regimes.

Obama's lack of leadership in standing up to tyranny again evidenced itself a little over a year later.

The Middle East has exploded in protests. Countries that have been ruled by strongmen for decades are seeing a popular uprising of epic proportions. And once again the American administration was caught unaware. Once again the Obama administration was caught flat-footed, as Egyptians took to the streets to overthrow dictator and U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak. Egypt, being a U.S. ally, must have enabled the Obama administration to come out early and call for Mubarak to step down.

It's well-documented how this administration treats traditional U.S. allies: the return of the bust of Winston Churchill and the gift of Obama speeches on an iPod for the queen, his treatment of Israel, his lackluster support for South Korea, his policy toward trade with democratic Colombia. All the while, Obama treats tyrants and dictators, self-declared enemies of the U.S., with kid gloves.

What else explains the timidity shown in the face of Libyan uprisings, and murders in the streets? When Obama finally got around to commenting on the hundreds of Libyan citizens dead, he couldn't even bring himself to mention dictator Muammar Gaddafi by name or call for him to step down. He eventually got around to it after a fresh round of shame from his political opposition. As the situation worsened, nations from around the world evacuated their citizens from Libya. Did President Obama send one of our carrier groups to evacuate and guard our citizens? No, he … charted a ferry. We wouldn't want to project American power and stability in the region, would we? A move like that might have sent an unmistakable message to Gaddafi and other tyrants in the Middle East that the mass murder of their citizens would not be tolerated by the United States. It might have made other despots think twice before ordering their air forces to fire on protesters if they knew American air power was minutes away. I'm sure the calculus was made in the White House: a carrier group would have negated all the good will America has enjoyed since Mr. Obama's American apology tour early in his presidency. There has been no show of strength or stability in the Middle East. Instead, Mr. Obama has turned once again to the UN to tame Libya’s mad-dog dictator.

Mr. Obama is a weak president. This isn't my calculation. It's the consensus of every thug and dictator around the world. Has there been any evidence to the contrary? The world’s despots seem reasonably assured that the most negative consequence for their mayhem is a severe tongue-lashing. And the world is now a much more dangerous place because of Mr. Obama's lack of experience, his lack of an American-centered resolve, and his pattern of embracing America's enemies and alienating our friends.

Instead of leading the world as the head of the nation that stands for freedom and liberty, Mr. Obama abdicates that responsibility to the United Nations. We no longer have the “leader of the free world” in the White House. We have “the follower of the oppressed world.” And as long as he occupies that office, America stands to lose its influence around the globe. It's an influence that, before Obama, made America a beacon of light for human freedom and dignity. That light is growing ever dimmer, allowing the world’s anti-American tyrants to thrive, and leaving our friends and those yearning to breathe free with no guide out of the increasing darkness.