Bound to Fail: How President Obama Succeeded at the One Thing he was Supposed to Fail
Think back to the 2008 elections. Look past the Tina Fey impressions of Sarah Palin, Joe the Plumber references, and the legality of President Obama’s birth. Think back to when they actually discussed the issues such as the looming economic crisis, health care, taxes, and foreign policy. President Obama was at that time a junior Senator from Illinois, and during the election period was continually slandered for his inexperience with foreign policy and being a suitable Commander-in-chief. The only credit he would have been given was knowing more about foreign policy than Sarah Palin who as we all remember could see Russia from her house. Yet in the last four years, in light of numerous domestic problems, the one thing that Obama has succeeded in is foreign policy.
Foreign policy is mostly a make or break issue for presidents. Coupled with an endearing domestic policy it pushed FDR through four terms in the white house. It brought down Jimmy Carter in Iran and while it surged President Bush through the War on Terror for his first term, it brought him down by his second (think back to Iraq’s supposed “weapons of mass destruction”).
Obama was supposed to “break” in this category yet a sting of successes has led him to become a very accomplished commander-in-chief. He approved the raid to kill Osama bin Laden in Pakistan on May 1, and was behind the decision and policies that led to the drone-missile killing of Al-Qaida figure Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen. He backed allied intervention that ultimately led to the downfall of Libya’s longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi's. At the same time he has followed the schedule that President Bush laid out before him that will end U.S. involvement in Iraq by drawing out the troops by the end of January 1st.
The killing of Osama Bin Laden was President Obama’s clutch moment. It was his decision to send in those forces, and his alone. One of the U.S. helicopters involved became disabled, which caused a disruption in the original plan. Yet President Obama decided to go through with the mission, yet if something had gone wrong it would have placed President Obama in a tight corner. However the U.S. forces were able to infiltrate bin Laden's compound and kill him. In an interview with “60 minutes” Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates stated President Obama’s decision was “one of the most courageous…that I think I’ve ever seen a president make (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/15/robert-gates-obama-bin-laden-de...).”
Not only are President Obama’s decisive executive calls building up is foreign policy, but his strategic planning. Obama's strategy aims, like all patriotic American presidents before him, to exert U.S. influence. Yet what makes President Obama stands out is he attempting to minimize our actual involvement, resources, and American lives that are involved. In the case of Libya, President Obama instituted a no-fly zone under the U.N. so as to protect the Libyan people. Then in conjunction with NATO, carried out attacks that targeted Gadhafi forces. In the end, the total cost to the U.S. government is expected to be under $1 billion with no loss of American lives, compared to the more than $800 billion in costs and more than 4,000 U.S. fatalities in the Iraq War launched by the Bush administration (http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/08/us-military-intervention-in... and http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/cost-war-iraq-numbers/story?id=14788211#4).
Yet President Obama’s greatest achievement may be that of restoring America image abroad. Back in 2010, the Pew Research Poll conducted a variety of surveys on America’s image and President Obama’s success. These polls were conducted right when the global economy begin to pick up (i.e. before the European meltdown). In most countries, excluding his own, President Barack Obama has been given a wave of support for the way he handled the world economic crisis. Since President Obama took office back in 2009, positive opinions of the US have risen greatly as compared to much of George W. Bush’s time in office (http://www.pewglobal.org/2010/06/17/obama-more-popular-abroad-than-at-home/).
Ratings of America are overwhelmingly favorable in Western Europe. For example, 73% in France and 63% in Germany say they have a favorable view of the U.S. Ratings of America have improved dramatically in Russia (57%), up 13 percentage points since 2009, in China (58%), up 11 points, and in Japan (66%), up 7 points. Opinions are also highly positive in other nations around the world including South Korea (79%), Poland (74%), and Brazil (62%). The new survey by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project, conducted April 7 to May 8, also found that overall opinion of Barack Obama remains broadly. In these countries, the national median confidence in Obama to do the right thing in world affairs is 71%, and overall approval of his policies is 64%. In particular, huge percentages in Germany (88%), France (84%), Spain (76%) and Britain (64%) say they back the president’s policies. Similarly in the two African nations polled Obama gets high marks – 89% of Kenyans and 74% of Nigerians approve of his international policies (http://www.pewglobal.org/2010/06/17/obama-more-popular-abroad-than-at-home/).
In the end, if voters are still faced with high unemployment rates by the 2012 election foreign policy will be little but pushed aside. Yet President Obama’s success has proven his growing ability as Commander-in-Chief, and that you can never judge a book by its cover.