This week we watch as the drama in Ukraine continues to unfold. Russian troops have occupied eastern territories of this sovereign nation, and many (especially Republican) leaders in the U.S. are calling for a buildup of Western allied military forces near Ukraine. It is a recipe with all the ingredients of a civil war backed on one side by the U.S. and the other by Russia.
It’s fine with me if my ten-year-old daughter wants to try out the ridiculous clothes from the 1980s, but I would rather not return to that decade’s foreign policy disasters. The twenty-first century has enough issues of its own without reviving that nonsense, thank you very much.
Yet in today’s paper I read an article describing Obama’s dwindling popularity as he searches for a nonviolent diplomatic response to Russia’s aggressive move into Crimea. For this hesitancy to move immediately to military posturing, our President is called “weak” or “ineffective”.
To the contrary, I believe that Barack Obama has in fact demonstrated his greatest moments of weakness when he does take military action or celebrates the death of our “enemies”.
I remember, before he was elected President, reading a book by Obama in which he talked about his deep Christian faith and his belief in diplomacy. But he wanted to get elected, and so he took a “tougher” stance on foreign policy issues, saying repeatedly in debates and campaign speeches that he would not hesitate to kill members of Al Queda or any enemy of the United States, especially if he could do so while reducing casualties of U.S. soldiers.
Thus the unprecedented rise in drone attacks during his presidency, allowing our military to cause just as much death and destruction as we need while minimizing the unpopular consequence of caskets draped in the American flag.
Still, as flimsy as he can be at times, I am exceedingly thankful that our President has the moral inclination to at least pause and try to think through nonviolent options before rushing headlong into war.
That time for reflection, to me, is not a sign of weakness. It is a mark of sanity.