Yesterday much of the social media I read was abuzz with a story that Mr. Obama did not attend a briefing by his National Security Council on the Ukraine situation. Susan Rice was ever quick to defend this lapse in leadership and claim the President had already been briefed.
We truly don't know why the President skipped a briefing but what Mr. Obama does not seem to grasp is his image as a leader has been further damaged. The New York Times has even realized this by titling a piece, "Making Russia Pay? It's Not So Simple".
The first challenge of being a leader, you have to act on what you threaten.
"Finding powerful levers to influence Mr. Putin’s decision-making will be a challenge for Mr. Obama and the European allies. Mr. Obama has seen repeatedly that warnings often do not discourage autocratic rulers from taking violent action, as when Syria crossed the president’s “red line” by using chemical weapons in its civil war."--NY Times
Like in the schoolyard, when you draw a line in the sand you need to be ready to deal with your opponent when he steps over the line. Mr. Obama has not shown that he has the heart to deal with those that cross him.
The second challenge of being a leader, know how to make things happen.
"Russia is an even tougher country to pressure, too formidable even in the post-Soviet age to rattle with stern lectures or shows of military force, and too rich in resources to squeeze economically in the short term. With a veto on the United Nations Security Council, it need not worry about the world body. And as the primary source of natural gas to much of Europe, it holds a trump card over many American allies."--NY Times
If you are going to threaten an action, make sure your opponent is going to respond. Russia holds too many trump cards for economic extortion to work. Europe is struggling to keep the EU together and taking on Mother Russia right now is not in their best interest. While former Secretary of State Clinton and the President pissed off Iran, Mr. Putin eased up to Tehran to insure the flow of oil and cash. The UN doesn't mean nearly as much to Mr. Putin as it does to Mr. Obama so that's not much of an option either.
Finally, being a leader is a lonely job. You can only defer deciding for so long, else you start to get statements like this;
“There’s nothing we can do to save Ukraine at this point,” he said. “All we can do is save the alliance.” --James F. Jeffrey, quoted in the NY Times
Nothing we can do? So we just give up on the very people we encouraged to break away from Moscow? Can anyone reading this imagine in contrast Mr. Putin accepting this kind of scenario?
From Alexander the Great to Martin Luther King, all great leaders shared on thing in common. They were unwilling to accept anything other than their vision as the only acceptable outcome. They were all willing to sacrifice everything for what the believed was their destiny. The problem for Mr. Obama is he just doesn't have to guts for the job. Whether it be Syria or the Ukraine, Mr. Obama does know what to do once his advisors throw up their hands and give-up. That, Mr. Obama, is when a leader leads…...