As President Obama’s tenure as President winds down, politicians and political pundits throughout the country are reminiscing about this presidency and the legacy he is leaving. CNN recently aired a tribute to Obama which implied that America was just not ready for his ideas yet. Others have honored him as the first African-American president and for his accomplishments, most notably Obamacare.
Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton praised Obama and her role as secretary of state in the death of Osama bin Laden. But that is only one side of the story. Others in the media do not share the immensely positive view of the last eight years.
In an opinion piece in the Washington Post, Richard Cohen asserts that Obama has single-handedly eliminated America’s leadership status in the world.
Cohen pointed to an historic meeting that occurred to discuss peace in the Middle East. On December 20, “Turkey, Iran and Russia met in Moscow to settle matters in the Middle East. The United States wasn’t even asked to the meeting.” Cohen places the blame for this lack of American leadership in the world squarely on President Obama.
“He has been all too happy to preside over the loss of American influence,” Cohen wrote. “Aleppo, Syria, now a pile of rubble, is where countless died – as did American influence. The Russians polished it off from the air, doing for the Syrian regime what the United States could not figure out how to do for the rebels. The city hemorrhaged civilian dead, and America, once the preeminent power in the region, did virtually nothing.”
Obama made it clear throughout his presidency that he had no desire or intention to get involved in military conflict no matter what, especially after the Iraq War. Cohen argues that lives could have been saved in Aleppo and throughout Syria if the US had established no-fly zones. Cohen says clearly that Syria “was not Obama’s fight.”
Cohen asserts that we are in for a change in January. While President-elect Trump is relatively new to the foreign policy arena, his intentions are clear. He plans to play tough.
“When the Chinese fished a U.S. Navy drone from the Pacific Ocean, the White House reacted so coolly you would think freedom of the seas didn’t matter. Trump, however, tweeted his indignation, finally telling Beijing it could keep the drone – a way of telling them to stuff it.”
Cohen blames Obama outright for failing to protect victims in Syria, for contributing to the refugee crisis and for failing to hold America up as the world leader we have been for so long.
“Since the end of World War II,” Cohen concluded, “American leadership has been essential to maintain world peace. Whether we liked it or not, we were the world’s policeman. There was no other cop on the beat. Now that leadership is gone. So, increasingly, will be peace.