Credit Where Credit Is Due

Its not just the economy, stupid ! In the minds of most voters, it’s all about the economy. And clearly, President Obama’s fortunes will largely turn on the politics of our economic recovery. But the scope of the  job of the President is broad. While the nation’s attention remains fixed on the economy, the President also must deal with the very complex, multifaceted issue of foreign policy. And while foreign policy gets little focus from the national media and the politicians jockeying for position in the coming election cycle, consider the pivotal role foreign policy has played in the fortunes of past administrations. Jimmy Carter’s presidency, as well his re-election campaign,were both marred by the ill-fated rescue mission during the Iranian hostage crisis. In fact, featuring a candidate’s lack of foreign policy experience has long been an effective negative campaign tool. A candidate’s perceived lack of experience in this arena is often effectively exploited. Why is it then that not only Republicans, but Americans in general, are loath to give President Obama credit when credit is due. Say what one may about Obama’s role in the taking down of Osama bin Laden, it happened on his watch. If the mission had failed he would be vilified from Capital Hill to Main Street. It would have destroyed his presidency, his legacy, as well as any hope for re-election. So why is there such reluctance to give him credit for the outstanding success?

Consider the series of uprisings that have defined the middle east in 2011. The effectiveness of the so-called “Arab Spring” has amazed in its scope and origins. But the potential for disastrous destabilization of the region has been real. And while the world watches along on CNN, there are very real foreign policy decisions being crafted by Obama and his advisors. His policy of  ‘cautious pragmatism’ has been described both negatively and positively. And clearly, what works for Egypt cannot work for Syria. But consider the Obama’s administration’s approach to Libya, for which he took flack from the right as well his own left flank. The U.S. asserted itself tactically in a very real, albeit measured way, while insisting NATO allies take the lead. As the Gaddafi regime is now crumbling, along with any semblance of legitimacy it might have still claimed, it is beginning to look like another successful policy decision was applied to a situation fraught with danger for the entire region.

While the economy continues its dismal course, it is fair to expect the criticism leveled at Barrack Obama for his handing of domestic affairs. But let us give credit where credit is due. In the arena of foreign policy, this president has proven an effective, successful Commander-in-Chief.

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