What Happened to Presidential Leadership?

To be a leader one must be able to make quick, intelligent decisions in the heat of the moment, go against the status quo when necessary, and never second-guess a decision or compromise his or her integrity. A leader stands up for and protects anyone and everyone under his or her command, does not let personal bias affect his or her decisions, and refutes and discourages the actions of anyone who would seek to harm, whether physically or emotionally, anyone he or she is bound to protect. A leader is someone to look up to, to emulate, and he or she will respect that with the conviction of his or her actions, always following through on what he or she says, never going against his or her own words, whether past or present, including (and especially) any promises he or she makes, and never makes excuses. A leader’s word must be his or her bond, no matter the consequences, and he or she must always accept those consequences, welcoming blame for any and all decisions that were made under his or her leadership. This doesn’t mean a leader cannot be flawed; a leader is still only human after all. But when a person in a leadership role blatantly ignores, or disregards these key attributes, that person can no longer be trusted. And when that trust is broken, that person’s strength and honor (which go hand in hand with leadership) are threatened.

These leadership qualities are no more essential than in the elected positions governed by the United States. George Washington had these qualities; Abraham Lincoln had these qualities; John F. Kennedy had these qualities; Robert Kennedy had these qualities; Ronald Reagan had these qualities. I’m sorry to say, though, that the leaders of our country over the last two decades have failed to accept and/or abide by many of these qualities. And now we have a president who seems to have all but abandoned every aspect of leadership. (And before you rip me apart, President Bush wasn’t much better!) President Obama hasn’t followed through on a lot of his promises, he stands up for some Americans but not others, consistently says one thing (or asks his people to do one thing) and then does the complete opposite, and doesn’t ever seem to want to make a decision, constantly blaming others when things go wrong. Through his actions, President Obama is speaking loud and clear: don’t accept accountability when blame will do; ideological bias is fine, so long as it lines up with whatever political group is the most vocal; it’s okay to lie, so long as you have supporters who will back up that lie; and hypocrisy is only that when it’s the opponent who does it. Don’t get me wrong; many men and women on both sides of the aisle, in all levels of government, are guilty of all of this. But the end all be all of the government hierarchy is always going to be the president; everyone else is simply emulating him. After all, if the president does it, why can’t we?

And now, President Obama wants the people (us) to believe that attacking Syria, and in turn supporting the rebels against Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, is the right thing to do, for us and those countries surrounding Syria. He also expects us to believe that bombing Syria won’t lead to war (or, to be more concise, “boots on the ground”). But given his current record, and all that he does (or doesn’t) stand for, I have a very hard time believing any of this.

First of all, who are the rebels, exactly? I mean, just because they’re rebelling against the leadership of their country doesn’t automatically put them on the “right” side. I think we need to take a much deeper look into the rebels before agreeing to support them—by this I mean, what are the rebel’s true motives here? From what I’ve heard, the rebels are mostly, if not all, affiliated with Al-Qaeda, the very group that wishes to destroy America and its way of life. Now if that’s true, how in the world is helping them going to do us any good? By helping them in any way, especially by providing them with weapons, all we’re truly doing is arming the enemy, one who will have no issue turning against us once all of this is over. If that’s the case, by supporting the rebels, this nation is essentially saying that we support our own destruction. Is that what we really want? After the complete lack of effort in bringing the Benghazi terrorists to justice (when they clearly killed four Americans, I might add), it sure does seem like it.

Now, for the sake of argument, let’s say helping the rebels is the right thing to do, and that it is very important for us to act quickly, as the President has said. Why the hold-up, then? I completely agree with President Obama’s decision to get Congress’s approval before sending any missiles or bombs into Syria. But if this act was as important as the president claims it to be, then President Obama should have ordered Congress to return the very day he announced he had decided to go in, so as to debate and vote on the action. As a matter of fact, he should have called them all back and had them vote the very same day Assad used his chemical weapons, not waiting several days after to finally make a decision. He did make a threat after all, so the decision was already made for him. Instead, he says the vote can wait until Congress gets back from vacation. Hm… Doesn’t seem all that important now, does it? Not only does this delay speak mountains about President Obama’s leadership skills, it also gives Assad plenty of time to move his armies and weapons to locations we know nothing about, or that we would be insane to even think about attacking. How does this help us again?

Oh, right. It’s because Assad used chemical weapons against his people, and if he’s willing to do that, he’s willing to use them on anyone else, including the United States. Okay, let’s take a look at that for a second. Call me crazy, but it seems to me that President Obama may have indirectly forced Assad to use the chemical weapons in the first place. Again, I’m not privy to all of the events and intelligence that the president is aware of to make his decisions, so this is all in speculation, but from what I have heard, Assad only used chemical weapons after President Obama “drew the red line in the sand.” Whether or not Assad was ever going to use them is beside the point; had President Obama not said anything, would Assad have even used them? Or did he use them simply to spite President Obama and call his bluff? To me, the whole situation sounds like one of those old Yosemite Sam/Bugs Bunny cartoons, where Yosemite Sam tells Bugs not to cross the line he draws in the sand or else. When Bugs crosses it, Yosemite Sam just backs up a step and draws another. Bugs crosses it again, and so he draws another. And another. And Another, all up until Yosemite Sam steps off a cliff. Think about it. Is this not exactly what we seem to be doing? President Obama has already made several idle threats over the course of Syria’s civil war. And now that he’s suddenly stepped off the cliff, either he makes good on his threat or we look weak as a nation, thus giving more power to our enemies.

The way I see it, bombing Assad with a couple of missiles that are nothing more than a slap on the wrist (what basically amounts to “a warning shot across her nose”), will only help anger Assad even more, and would essentially be an act of war. Do we really need another war on our hands, especially another one that we don’t need to be fighting? I’m not saying that Bashar al-Assad doesn’t need to be punished for the war crimes he has committed against his people, but with this act, even as small as President Obama claims it will be, will only force Assad’s hand. Whether it’s right away or not, Assad will retaliate against us, and then we’ll be forced to fight back. Suddenly, we’re knee deep in another pointless war. And as everyone knows, we can’t afford to borrow any more money for something like this.

Now, I’m not sure what I would do if I were president and had all of the information that President Obama has; heck, I don’t even know if I’d even want that burden. But the way in which President Obama has publicly handled this situation, and how he handles the Office of the Presidency as a whole, proves, by all accounts, his lack of essential leadership qualities that are necessary for us, as a people, to follow him (and all of Congress, for what its worth) without question. I just fear that if our “leaders”, Republican and Democrat, continue down this path of lackluster leadership, it will only lead to a far greater destruction than any of us realize, or are ready for. Let’s pray I’m wrong.

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