Terresa Monroe-Hamilton caught the most unbelievable part of President Obama’s 60 Minutes interview with Steve Kroft. She calls him “delusional,” and there’s little room to argue with that assessment — you simply must see the video to believe it, but here’s the transcript:
Steve Kroft: A year ago when we did this interview, there was some saber-rattling between the United States and Russia on the Ukrainian border. Now it’s also going on in Syria. You said a year ago that the United States– America leads. We’re the indispensable nation. Mr. Putin seems to be challenging that leadership.
President Barack Obama: In what way? Let– let’s think about this– let– let–
Steve Kroft: Well, he’s moved troops into Syria, for one. He’s got people on the ground. Two, the Russians are conducting military operations in the Middle East for the first time since World War II.
President Barack Obama: So that’s– so that’s —
Steve Kroft: bombing the people– that we are supporting.
President Barack Obama: So that’s leading, Steve?
Wrong Steve, I know — but yes, I’d call it leadership when our ostensible allies are getting killed and our ostensible president is getting sand kicked in his face. What Putin is doing might not be nice, but it is leadership.
To expand on this a bit, what is leadership? The essential function of leadership is nothing more than the ability to get people to follow you, whether by inspiration, persuasion, threats, or coercion. Obama’s definition, however, dismisses threats and coercion as “Not Leadership.” Putin can’t be leading, because he isn’t doing it the way Obama would do it.
Well — in a few weeks or months we’ll see which president still has the ability to get people in the Middle East to follow him.
With that in mind, let’s go to the truly delusion bit.
Here’s the very next thing the president told Kroft:
President Barack Obama: Let me ask you this question. When I came into office– Ukraine was governed by a corrupt ruler who was a stooge of Mr. Putin.
(ASIDE: Um, Mr President? That “stooge of Mr. Putin,” Viktor Yanukovych, was elected on your watch, in 2010. But never mind that for now. –VP)
Steve Kroft: Right, right, right.
President Barack Obama: Syria was Russia’s only ally in the region. And today, rather than being able to count on their support and maintain the base they had in Syria, which they’ve had for a long time. Mr. Putin now is devoting- his own troops, his own military, just to barely hold together by a thread his sole ally. And in Ukraine–
Steve Kroft: He’s challenging your leadership, Mr. President. He’s challenging your leadership-
President Barack Obama: Well– Steve, I got to tell you, if you think that running your economy into the ground and having to send troops in, in order to prop up your only ally is leadership, then we’ve got a different definition of leadership.
Ukraine now has a much nicer government, that’s true. Ukraine has also been partly dissected; robbed of the Donbas’s vital economic output and with Crimea firmly in Moscow’s grip. Putin might not have gotten all he wants of Ukraine, and perhaps he never will — but where was Obama’s leadership? He “led” the Europeans into putting a few sanctions into place, but Putin remains firmly in control of Crimea, and the fighting in eastern Ukraine continues.
Also note that “having to send troops in” is, by Obama’s thinking, a failure of leadership. Others might say that swiftly moving in substantial air, naval, and land forces, and then using them decisively to aid an embattled ally is the very definition of leadership. Had Obama “failed” to lead in Iraq two years ago the same way Putin has “failed” to lead in Syria, ISIS might have been nipped in the bud.
But back to Syria. Maybe Putin will save Assad, maybe he won’t. But people and governments in the Middle East will long remember that Obama’s definition of leadership meant abandoning our allies in Baghdad, showing the back of his hand to our friends in Jerusalem, cozying up to the liars and killers in Tehran, waging an effete air campaign against ISIS, and dithering while Syria descended into an almost unimaginable humanitarian crisis.
In the broader region, Obama’s leadership left Libya in ruins and wide open to ISIS penetration, alienated Egypt, decreased our leverage in Pakistan, and accomplished almost nothing in Afghanistan except to turn it into a safe haven for pederasts.
Obama’s disastrous failure to lead in the Middle East has helped to flood Europe with refugees and potential terrorists, encouraging the rise of Putin-like far-right parties throughout NATO and the EU. Meanwhile, Moscow appears set to flagrantly violate Obama’s New START agreement, building up its arsenal of deployed nuclear warheads above the impending caps. Our own arsenal continues to shrink, already well under the 2018 limits.
However, the president does see an opportunity coming soon to turn all this around, telling Kroft that “my definition of leadership would be leading on climate change, an international accord that potentially we’ll get in Paris.”
Obama fiddled with the thermostat while the world burned.