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The President Can't (Shouldn't) Gloat. But, I Can: Leading From Behind Is a Great Strategy

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MAD DOG
PA

-War is the continuation of diplomacy by other means--Carl von Clausewitz

While Republicans debate who mowed whose lawn, and compete on who can treat Latinos with the most disdain, President Barack Obama demonstrated -- once,again -- that an intelligent, thoughtful approach to foreign policy, and its military component, is far superior in ultimate results and costs and casualties than ideologically-driven bluster, designed to puff up the manhood and political fortunes of those who dream up wars to send other peoples' children to fight.

Moreover, the president may well have created a new formula for U.S. foreign policy -- assemble allies, touch the right bases so as to avoid negative long-term consequences, recognize the limits of your power... and, yes, "lead from behind". Of course, it will not work in all circumstances -- but to criticize when it can, and does, work shows just how infantile Republicans are.

It is almost comical that Mitt Romney -- whose military experience may best be characterized as "leading by running away" -- attacks the entire concept of leading from behind. It saves lives, money, increases the chances of success and improves staying power.

Romney, a total phony, trying to burnish his neocon credentials, somehow thinks that the U.S. should always be out-front, risking U.S. lives, spending U.S. money, and demonstrating disdain for others' opinions. This from a man who went to France on a mission for his church during Vietnam, claiming to wish to be among his comrades fighting there, and then returning and never, ever, volunteering for the war. This from a man who preaches leadership -- but has never exerted enough leadership to get a single one of his 5 sons to volunteer for Iraq or Afghanistan.

The other Republican contenders were, for the most part, even more ridiculous than Romney. Gingrich first announced that he would declare a no-fly zone immediately -- no allies, no Arab league endorsement, no UN -- and risk U.S. citizens who were in Libya. Instead, the president waited to ensure that U.S. citizens were evacuated first, so they would not be killed, used as hostages or used as human shields. Imagine how complicated every battlefield decision would have been had the President followed Gingrich's prescription.

But, if you do not like that, then just wait. Once the president decided he should act -- along with allies, UN agreement, Arab league encouragement -- Gingrich was now totally opposed to any intervention at all. In the space of a few weeks! And that man is running for president on the grounds that he has "substance".

Very few Congressional Republicans supported the president's actions. To a person, they complained about leading from behind. They, of course, would have been very happy to send other peoples' children to fight, or not engage at all. Moreover, not a single one ever criticized Bush and Cheney for being asleep at the switch for 9/11, never even calling a meeting to discuss terrorist threats when the CIA director was begging them to do so.

And, what do the Libyan people think of America for having done this, and the way the president did it?

They love us! Perhaps Dick Cheney (whose also believed in "leadership by running away") was right about being us greeted with flowers and dancing, he just had the wrong country -- and the wrong president.

If Libya's oil infrastructure can be repaired, Libya can generate sufficient revenues to pay for -- not U.S. taxpayers -- reconstruction of their country. One might suspect that U.S. firms, with President Obama's support, could be a substantial part of that.

At the 1984 Republican convention Ronald Reagan was praised to the heavens for invading Grenada -- after tuck-tailing-and-running out of Lebanon where he lost more than 200 marines in a single terrorist attack. His pal, Senator Paul Laxalt, exclaimed, "he stood 10-feet tall, 10-feet tall".

I would like to see Democrats, now, today, lambasting Republicans for their waffling, for their inconsistent leadership, and for not giving America the credit it deserves. Not just once, but over-and-over-and-over again.

If Reagan stood 10' tall for defeating the island nation of Grenada, then they cannot build the 2012 convention ceiling high enough to contain President Obama for his brilliant foreign policy that toppled a 42-year dictatorship, cost 1/500th of the cost of Iraq, and did not lose a single American soldier.