After more than a decade of war overseas in Afghanistan and Iraq, with limited results at best, Americans are deeply wary of additional military encounters. The Middle East is a mess. Hamas has attacked Israel, Syria has imploded, Egypt’s attempt at democracy is a failure, ISIS seeks to conquer wide swaths of the region, killing anyone and everyone in their way, and the list goes on.
But when President Obama offers a passive response, seemingly in keeping with the mood of the people, his countrymen are unhappy. According to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, 58 percent of Americans disapprove of his foreign policy management. As New York Times columnist Roger Cohen wrote this week in a perceptive piece, “Ambivalence About America,” Obama “is not the decider. He is the restrainer.”
Americans want stronger leadership. They are not comfortable with the militant fanatics of the world running roughshod. There is a recognition that any power vacuum gets filled by the aggressors, not the peacemakers. The challenge is for statesmen to lead without being drawn into the quicksand.