President's Obama's administration faltered from the very beginning of its governance with respect to its strategy in the Afghanistan war. Despite Obama's acceptance of a plan based on the assessment from the outgoing administration, Obama's war strategy even months after he took office was in disarray. As a result, American soldiers were dying and the Taliban was gaining the upper hand. The President did not follow the recommendation of General Stanley McCrystal to send 40,000 more troops to the arena and it took nearly till the end of Obama's first year to announce to the country his strategy of a surge of 30,000 to be sent to Afghanistan thus copying Bush's surge, which Obama had criticized years before. The military had been expecting sufficient reinforcements up to that point which did not come.
Unbeknownst to the American people, a major source of hesitation in the summer of 2009, in the mind of Barack Obama and his advisors to commit the necessary number of troupes, was due to their reading of a book by the name of "Lessons in Disaster" by Gordon Goldstein. The book dealt with the failure of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson to question basic assumptions for the war in Vietnam. This is not a joke! This book made the Obama advisors, according to the NY Times, "rethink the nature of Al Qaeda and the Taliban". (Talk about an act not being ready for prime time...)
In October of '09 former vice president Cheney said: "The White House must stop dithering while America's armed forces are in danger....It's time for President Obama to do what it takes to win a war he has repeatedly and rightly called a war of necessity."
Cheney also then criticized Obama's decision to withdraw our missile defense system in Poland and a radar site in the Czech Republic. The administration claimed that it would substitute those with higher tech versions. However the Pentagon is currently cancelling that replacement of the SM3 IIb missile system in Poland for the year 2022, which according to the Washington Post, would have been "the only interceptor planned for the Europe-based system that could have defended the United States against an attack from Iran".
It is interesting to note that in 2009, when Cheney leveled those criticisms, he also said that trying to placate Putin by acquiescing to his wishes leads to nothing. How prophetic of him in light of Obama's recent nixing of his meeting with the Russian President.
We find other examples where the President lacked resolve to bring forth strong American leadership:
In the Libyan rebellion against dictator Moammar Gadhafi, in the face of a huge slaughter by the dictator of his rebels - it took the call of European leaders, members of his own administration such as Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice and Samantha Power to get the President to get involved. Yet even with that cajoling,
Obama came in late, with America leading "from behind" and only after the rebels incurred tremendous set backs and reversals toward their liberation. By this time there was considerable loss of life to the rebels and more time for Libyan government arsenals to get into the wrong hands.
Similarly when Iran had its attempted rebellion, Obama was conspicuously silent in the face of the atrocities of the Iranian Savak who were just mowing down peaceful protesters in the street. At the time
Obama explained that he didn't want to condemn the Iranian regime because if the rebellion failed he didn't want to mar his relationship with the current regime. Some leadership that is! Again as in the case with Putin - trying to ingratiate oneself with despots ultimately is a losing game.
The uprising in Syria started in March 2011 with peaceful protests. The West supported the protesters and the crackdown from the Assad regime from the outset was scourged with mass arrests, brutality and torture of civilians. Eventually he brought in the military with heavy weapons - killing 10's of thousands. By the time Obama decided to arm the rebels (with light weapons), July of this year, there had already been 90,000 deaths inflicted by the murderous dictator and a large segment of Al Qaeda affiliates infiltrated the rebellion due to a power vacuum.
Bashir Al Assad is an Iranian partner and a supporter of various terrorist groups, most notably Hezbollah and Hamas. It is in the U.S.'s interest to get rid of the Assad regime both strategically and on the humanitarian front. The reason Obama didn't step in earlier is again - lacking spine - because he didn't want to go against China and Russia. To date there are over 100,000 deaths, 2 to 3 million internally displaced and 2 million refugees from Syria.
The war we have with Islamic Jihad is no less serious than the cold war we had with the Soviet Union. The way to win this war besides the use of drones and shooting the enemy, is showing the region that when there is a legitimate call for help from people who could be our allies that we come to their aid. To a sophisticated man like our President is purported to be, this should be well understood. Additionally, the world should not turn a blind eye toward atrocities. If Hitler should have been stopped so should be Assad.
Finally, we have the case of the Egyptian rebellion through peaceful protests in the beginning of 2011. After just a few weeks of protests, President Hosni Mubarak had conceded that he will not seek another term which meant that he would have served until the end of that year. The protesters demanded an immediate ouster and President Obama obliged them with those demands of Mubarak.
With this, Obama not only treated an ally of 30 years very shabbily but also did not allow for the Egyptian people to organize and elect a president that would serve the interests of Egypt as a whole. President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood "party", subsequently felt entitled which led to his power grab which in turn led to his ouster by the Egyptian military. This is how we got where we are today - death in the streets of Cairo - something that should have been foreseen.
On the local level we need strong leadership as well. Most notably, we will be electing a new mayor for the first time in 12 years. Often when things go well the stewards who enable that, go unappreciated, which may very well be the case with Bloomberg. Fiscally speaking, Bloomberg has done a great job and he has recently issued a warning that if the next mayor doesn't hold his or her-own in regard to labor contracts with the Municipal unions including the matter of retroactive pay, NY city's financial stability could be imperiled. The Left uses the fact that the contracts which expired 3 years ago for 300 thousand city workers were not negotiated by this mayor as a cudgel against him to demonstrate his lack of ability to negotiate. However NYU professor Mitchel Moss says that it was the unions who were avoiding the negotiations with Bloomberg and it was they who strategized to hold out for a better deal with a new mayor.
The facts are that most of city workers pay nothing towards their medical insurance premiums which will total $6.3 billion this year and city workers pay very little toward their pensions which this year will be $8 billion. 10 thousand police officers under the age of 40 will be retiring soon. All over the country in fact, between city and state employees, unfunded pension liabilities will total $1 trillion. Bloomberg warns us that we all can learn from Detroit's failure. "Avoiding the hard choices is how Detroit went bankrupt" he stated. Since 2010 a total of 8 cities or towns have filed for bankruptcy.
Young people today weren't alive during NY city's fiscal crisis in 1975 when we were on the verge of bankruptcy. People forget the horrible lawlessness which began in the late 60's and ended in the mid 90's. I myself, during that period, was a victim of a horrible attack by someone who had been working for me on a house renovation and later got caught up in the drug craze. In the late 80's I noticed a pack of perhaps 20 youth in a midtown subway station, dragging someone by the neck who was screaming for help. We all remember mayor Dinkin's feckless leadership of our city which resulted in chaos on the streets. We don't need someone like that again.
Of the Democratic mayoral candidates, Christine Quinn stands out as the most capable to negotiate with the unions and to maintain an orderly and safe NY. However she is far from perfect and she also felt that she had to denigrate the jury verdict in the George Zimmerman case. In the Republican mayoral Primary and indeed also for the General Election, I defer to Dr. Joe Frager's selection of Joe Lhota. My other preferences for Democratic Primaries: Comptroller - Elliot Spitzer, Public Advocate - Cathy Guerriero, Borough President - Peter Valone Jr., City Council - Rory Lancman and Alex Blishteyn in the General Election.