September 26, 2012
By Peter Brookes
The high-flying rhetoric in his speech aside, the most troubling part of President Barack Obama’s visit to the United Nations yesterday was his decision to forego meetings with other heads of state gathering at the General Assembly meeting.
What a missed opportunity for tackling a wide array of world problems.
For instance, it was just two weeks ago that the walls of our Cairo embassy were breached and the U.S. flag burned; our consulate in Benghazi was attacked, resulting in the death of our ambassador to Libya.
In light of the “Islamist Spring,” wouldn’t it have made sense for Obama to have sat down with some of the new Middle East’s leaders to discuss his call for rejecting violence and intolerance that has just cost at least four American lives?
Of course, there’s Iran. Tehran’s runaway nuclear (weapons) program is by far the most predictable national security crisis heading in our direction. But our policy has resulted in little to no progress on preventing Iran from joining the once-exclusive nuclear weapons club.
Passing on a meeting with the leader of the other state most affected by Iran’s atomic aspirations, Benjamin Netanyahu, Obama squandered a chance to show solidarity with Israel at a critical time.
And what about Syria — a crisis that has dragged on for 18-plus months and cost more than 20,000 lives? Our inaction has been attributed to a lack of consensus at the U.N., especially among China and Russia at the Security Council. Wouldn’t it have made sense to speak in person with key regional leaders to look for a way to stop the bloodshed?
Many would have liked to see some presidential engagement on Afghanistan, where things have been rough for 60,000 brave U.S. troops fighting the Taliban, the Haqqani Network and al-Qaida.
And some analysts fear territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas could lead to fisticuffs among the likes of China, Japan, and others. Where’s the presidential presence on the Pacific pivot?
It’s not like the president hasn’t taken time in the past to grip and grin at the General Assembly. According to CBS News’ Mark Knoller, Obama held 13 bilateral meetings with leaders at the U.N.’s confab last year.
It’s easy to see why folks say Obama is more interested in running for re-election, including taping “The View” while in New York, rather than being diplomat and commander in chief.
You have to wonder if the president has gone from leading from behind to not leading at all. But these pressing problems, among others, won’t wait until this — or any — U.S. president is interested in engaging on them.
Peter Brookes is a Heritage Foundation senior fellow and a former deputy assistant secretary of defense.
First appeared in Boston Herald.
Senior Fellow, National Security Affairs
Read More >>
Request an interview >>
Please complete the following form to request an interview with a Heritage expert.
Please note that all fields must be completed.
Heritage's daily Morning Bell e-mail keeps you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.
The subscription is free and delivers you the latest conservative policy perspectives on the news each weekday--straight from Heritage experts.
The Morning Bell is your daily wake-up call offering a fresh, conservative analysis of the news.
More than 200,000 Americans rely on Heritage's Morning Bell to stay up to date on the policy battles that affect them.
Rush Limbaugh says "The Heritage Foundation's Morning Bell is just terrific!"
Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) says it's "a great way to start the day for any conservative who wants to get America back on track."
Sign up to start your free subscription today!
The Heritage Foundation is the nation’s most broadly supported public policy research institute, with hundreds of thousands of individual, foundation and corporate donors. Heritage, founded in February 1973, has a staff of 275 and an annual expense budget of $82.4 million.
Our mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense. Read More
© 2014, The Heritage Foundation Conservative policy research since 1973