10/20/12 — Libya alarm: Is Obama playing politics, or just dangerously weak on foreign policy?

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Libya alarm: Is Obama playing politics, or just dangerously weak on foreign policy?

When President Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, there were many people who cast their ballots for him because he promised a new breed of politics -- or non-politics.

Instead of division and strife, he suggested that he would be the leader who would cross the aisles and forge a new partnership designed to bring progress, hope and change back to a country that he said was struggling to find its way.

Call it naivety or whatever you want, but truth is, that sounded appealing to many people who were tired of the bickering and finger-pointing in Washington.

Now, fast forward to 2012.

The result is exactly the opposite.

Perhaps he figured out that it wasn't going to be as easy as he thought. Perhaps there was more of an agenda than we knew, but the bottom line is things are not better -- and there is more division than ever.

And what is really scary is how much politics has seeped into the operations of the daily government as the Obama campaign tries to get its candidate positioned so he takes home the prize on Nov. 6.

And that is why although it might be difficult to find a real story on it, and even harder to find someone who will comment honestly on it, you should pay attention to the controversy regarding the attack on the consulate in Libya.

First off, examine the commentary after the reports of the attack.

From the very first moments, administration personnel and alleged experts were all over television blaming the attack on a clip from an obscure video depicting the prophet Muhammad in a derogatory manner.

What happens next? The president goes on television and apologizes for the video saying it was inappropriate and that he understood the anger associated with it.

Then, later, in response to criticism that perhaps he should have said something instead about the attack on American personnel and the consulate, Obama makes a general statement about how terrorism acts of any kind will not tolerated.

Now, fast forward to the debate and the president's claim that he called the attack in Libya terrorism right from the start.

If the administration's policy was that the attack was indeed, terrorism, why did so many officials go on every television show they could to push the viewpoint that it was, instead, a reaction to the video?

You guessed it. Politics.

It is much better to say that you were the man responsible for the death of Osama bin Laden -- even though there is a line of people a mile long who deserve the credit for the hard work and strategy that went into making that possible -- than it is to admit that you pandered to terrorists.

Perhaps President Obama was not prepared for the real-world decision-making that being president requires. Maybe there is something to be said about experience -- and maybe the then-campaigning Clintons were right, that this man simply was not ready to be president in the first place.

Libya is a symptom of a problem -- an administration that is used to softballs and positive press and is now finding itself having to answer tough questions and not knowing exactly how to handle them.

You should care about Libya because of the way the event was handled and the way politics factored in.

We apologized before we knew. We did not stand up strong and resolute when we should have.

And now, we have to think about the next step.

Pandering to terrorists is not going to bring peace to the Middle East and to make the United States a beloved ally.

It is a sign of weakness -- and one militant Islamists will use to rev up opposition and battle plans.

We need to use diplomacy with legitimate governments, respect the allies we have, and think big picture and face the reality that you cannot negotiate with people who think it is OK to kill thousands of innocents -- and who are sure there is a religious reward for blowing themselves up.

To stay out of war, we need to be strong. We need to send a message that fooling around with this country or its allies is not a good idea. We need to show those who are fighting these radical extremists that we are going to be there and will support them in their efforts.

That is how you responsibly lead the world and protect your nation.

The other is just textbook theory.

Published in Editorials on October 20, 2012 9:03 PM