Saturday, August 30, 2014

Has America lost its voice?

Obama's decision to postpone military action in Syria against the Islamic State might not be a terrible idea, but it seems to be a product of indecision and lack of vision rather than an expression of international leadership. If he has a world view that he is intending to implement, he needs to be able to clearly and inspiringly give voice to his vision and strategy rather than just be the pawn of his own advisors' internal battles and inability to come to a consensus. Is that what leadership is, to wait until everyone agrees and then do what they recommend?

And what of Putin's invasion of Ukraine?  Obama says that Putin shouldn't do such nasty things, but is he really voicing a clear and powerfully led western opposition to Putin? Some people attack just because there is no one there to stop them. Looks like that describes Putin. Where is the leadership in the pushback?  I understand that Obama is coordinating sanctions, but it all seems to be behind the scenes, on the quiet, some rhetoric but without a sense of command.

I am noticing that for this coming off-year election there doesn't seem to be a leader of the Democratic Party. No Democratic politicians are asking the president to come campaign with them. This is not unusual because presidents are often unpopular enough that they are not seen as a valuable campaign asset during off-year elections. But this year it seems like nobody is speaks for the Democratic Party in this election, and the country doesn't seem to have a real voice on the world stage either. 

It's the same for the Republicans, of course, there is no national spokesman that the Republicans rally around, but that is the normal state of the party that doesn't hold the Whitehouse. Unless there is an unusually charismatic and articulate opposing party spokesperson various wannabes offer different paths and visions and there is no real center to the opposition. 

So, there seems to be a vacuum in the world, and that vacuum is being filled by an opportunistically warlike Russian Putin, and by the fanatically savage Islamic State. Europe is almost completely missing on the world stage, in part I think because of their decision after the ravages of WWI and WWII to almost totally disarm. They were able to focus on social issues and leave defense to their muscular and willing military ally, America. But now America is much less willing to be the western world's military, and is trying to find a more subtle role.  And at least for the interim it seems like America is just backing away and taking as small a role as possible. 

I am all for an American leadership that is not overly reliant on military interventions. It would just be a little reassuring to me, and perhaps to a muddled world, if America would have a clearer voice with a firmer sense of leadership in a comprehensive, worldwide, collaborative approach. 

The world needs a powerful voice to lead it in its grappling with the savage aggressions happening today, to lead it in ways that give the opposition to the barbarity a vision, method, and purpose - a vision that is much more than just troops on the ground.

I think it would help calm the world down a bit.