Syria Exposes Ambiguities In Obama’s Foreign Policy

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from NPR,

In trying to justify a military strike, it was almost as though the President was arguing with himself, trying to explain why a chemical attack warranted getting involved in a war he’d studiously avoided for more than two years. Presidential historian Michael Beschloss says Obama’s speeches are unusual in the way they reveal his sometimes-messy internal dialogue.

“He’s not afraid to confess that there is ambiguity in the world,” Beschloss says. “And sometimes there may be ambivalence in his own mind … and it is not an accident that a president with these qualities was elected after two terms of a president who was famously very self-certain of most of the things he said in public.”

Beschloss says Obama’s ambivalence was especially apparent two weeks ago, when the president announced his decision that the U.S. should strike Syria, then added in the very next breath that he planned to seek authorization from Congress first. Obama had surprised his own staff with the second part of that decision only the night before.

“We saw something two weeks ago that we normally don’t see with most presidents, and that is a pretty spontaneous decision,” he says. “One that was in full view, and one that did not necessarily show Barack Obama in the best light … but you do get an authentic sense of the man.”

But where Beschloss sees authenticity, and a thoughtful wrestling over the proper role of the president, others see dithering and indecision. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said this week it’s long past time for the president to “drop the pose of the reluctant warrior, and lead.”

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