WASHINGTON, Dec. 7, 2015 – In recent years we have seen how inexperienced leadership can lead us into one crisis after another.
George W. Bush invaded Iraq for no good reason, destabilizing the entire Middle East.
Then Barack Obama and his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, overthrew the Libyan government of Muammar Ghaddafi when the Libyan dictator no longer represented a threat of any kind. Adding insult to injury, they had no plan for what would come next.
With their actions in Libya, Obama and Clinton further destabilized the Middle East,leading to the dramatic growth of ISIS and the growing refugee crisis now dividing this country.
When Hillary Clinton claims experience in foreign policy, its value is open to serious question.
- She voted for war against Iraq, evidently accepting baseless claims about alleged weapons of mass destruction.
- In Libya, without a congressional declaration war, she and President Obama enforced a no-fly zone and U.S. Intelligence agents on the ground guided and directed bombing attacks.
- She apparently permitted U.S. arms dealers to violate the U.N. arms embargo and arm Libyan rebels.
In the end, anarchy reigned in Libya—the perfect opening for ISIS and Islamic terrorism.
The administration’s response to ISIS has been increasingly confusing. The Pentagon has been using color coding to designate the eligibility of various Syrian rebel groups to receive U.S. aid. According to The Wall Street Journal, some groups were assigned green dots, while others were given red or yellow.
A Turkish official told the Journal, “The Americans color-coded; the Russians invaded.”
Many of President Obama’s liberal supporters have expressed dismay with his performance. Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen notes, “At times, Obama talks like a Miss America contestant who vows, if she wins, to campaign for world peace.”
Now, ISIS is stepping up its attacks on Western targets in Paris, in Mali and in San Bernardino, California, with threats to New York, Washington, Rome and other targets appearing on social media almost daily. In light of the crisis we face, it is clear that inexperienced leadership is a danger we cannot afford.
Yet, in the presidential campaign, inexperience and overheated rhetoric is what we are getting. It is something that can lead to an even more dangerous world than we have today.
Consider the current Republican front-runner, Donald Trump, a man with no government experience whatever, whose fame came about as a result of a reality television show and the construction of hotels and gambling casinos.
Trump has been telling increasingly large audiences a series of things which are clearly not true.
Consider what he has been saying.
Trump’s first real foray into politics was as a leader in the “birther” movement, declaring the President Obama was not a native-born U.S. citizen, despite undisputable evidence that he was born in Hawaii. On Nov. 14, Trump declared that “our president wants to take in 250,000 refugees from Syria.” The correct number is 10,000.
He states that he “saw” on television “thousands” of American Muslims openly celebrating the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. In fact, there were no such celebrations. He has presented a statistic that blacks are responsible for 81 per cent of murders of white victims.
In fact, 82 per cent of whites are killed by whites.
These untruths are hardly random. They appeal to the basest instincts of those who support him. They reinforce fear and prejudice. He has praised supporters for beating a protester and has penned reporters into designated zones so that they cannot speak to his followers.
Beyond this, he has called for the use of torture, has suggested registering Muslims and the monitoring of mosques.
Such policies would reinforce the appeal of ISIS, making this a war against Islam instead of a war against terrorism. He seems to think he can insult his way to the White House.
Trump’s ire has been aimed at fellow Republicans, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who, he says, is no war hero because “he was captured.” This from a man who never served in the armed forces.
He has called his opponents “stupid,” while regularly proclaiming how “really smart” he is. He has made fun of a disabled reporter. Name-calling is his first response to criticism of any kind. He called Karl Rove, Fox News commentator and chief Republican strategist for George W. Bush, “a totally incompetent jerk.”
Women have been called “fat” and “ugly,” and he attributed Fox News’ Megan Kelly of harsh questioning because of menstruation.
We have had eight years of a president whose experience was limited to two years in the U.S. Senate. Most Americans are not pleased with his leadership. The idea that our country would be better served by someone with no experience at all and whose campaign is filled with lies and name-calling is difficult to understand.
The kind of president we need, argues Robert M. Gates, who served as defense secretary in both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations, is one
…who understands the system of government bequeathed to us by the Founders—and grasps the reality that with power divided among three branches of government, building coalitions and making compromises are the only ways anything lasting can get done. Primal screaming may be good therapy , but it is a poor substitute for practical politics. Arch-conservatives may want little government and arch-liberals may want a lot, but many functions of our government are critical to our well-being, and they can be carried out effectively only in Congress and the President work together. Those who believe that compromise is synonymous with selling out or giving up one’s principles need to retake eighth-grade American history. The next president needs to be a pragmatic and skilled political leader – like Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan.
The most important quality for our next president, in Gates’s view, is this:
The new president must be a true unifier of Americans. The nation is divided over how to deal with challenges such as immigration. The quality of public education, economic inequality, our role abroad and more. Too many presidential candidates of all stripes are working overtime to deepen our divisions, to turn us against one another, to play to our fears. They are prepared to place all that holds us together as one people, as Americans, at risk for their own ambitions. The next president must lead in restoring civility to our political process. We must hope that the president we elect next year will again and again remind all Americans of our common destiny, and that our fate as a nation and as a people is bound up with one another. Our new leader should appeal, in President Abraham Lincoln’s words, to “the better angels of our nature.”
Peter Wehner, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center who has served in three Republican administrations, is concerned about the harsh and divisive rhetoric he hears from candidates in his party. He believes:
The struggle within the Republican Party right now centers on those who, figuratively speaking, want to rebuild the village and those who want to burn it down, those who want to fight irresistible demographic changes and those who want to responsibly embrace them, those who think they can win over new Americans and those who want to turn them away.
There are a number of Republican presidential candidates, senators, governors and former governors, who, if given the chance, can make the Republican Party the party of aspiration instead of resentment, the party for this era, instead of one seeking to reclaim a lost era. Republican voters would be wise to choose leaders who embody enchantment rather than the art of discontent, who have known the uplands and can lead the rest of us there.
Sadly, in recent days, the voices of intolerance, division and inexperience have been the loudest. Hopefully, wiser and more experienced voices will prevail. If they do not, all of us will be the losers and only our adversaries will have reason to rejoice.