Last week, Mr. Obama made headlines by giving the world a history lesson as his response to the brutal execution of the Jordanian pilot by Daesh. Mr. Obama reminded us that before we go to far in condemning Islam, we need to remember that Christians committed equally horrible atrocities during the Crusades, Spanish Inquisition and even slavery in the United States. His speech was not the impassioned vitriol of King Abdullah II nor the unifying theme of European leaders in response to the Paris massacres. Instead, Mr. Obama's speech was something you might hear in a classroom at Harvard for graduate students. In it, I have come to the conclusion that Mr. Obama has yet to figure out how to act like a statesman, much less the President of the United States.
It seems Mr. Obama, like many others before him, ran with great enthusiasm and energy to win the election but never had a game plan for the day after the election. It takes most US Presidents and few years to hit their particular stride yet I don't see where after six years Mr. Obama has figured out the job. His speech was even-keeled at a time when emotions were high. Academically it might appear to be a time for calmer language but burning anyone alive in front of video cameras to incite terror requires something other than a bookish response.
His speech seems even more hollow now that Kayla Mueller, an American held hostage by Daesh, has been murdered. Mr. Obama wants Congress to authorize him to declare war on Daesh across the world. One might wonder how the milquetoast speech he gave last week was supposed to generate support for this request? Now that it has been confirmed that Kayla Mueller has been murdered, will he give another emotionless speech on the historical ramifications of religion or will he simply go golfing again?
As he girds himself to face a Republican controlled House, other events Mr. Obama has ignored continued to percolate. Mr. Obama has shunned Netanyahu, the major US ally (and only non-Muslim) in the region. Iran continues to pursue its nuclear technology with relative impunity from the US. The 300 Nigerian school girls still have yet to be found but Boko Haram has massacred thousands with no end in sight.
Russia continues to maintain an aggressive military footing in Ukraine and now the US is considering sending arms to Ukraine. Keep in mind that the US had backed the coup in Ukraine whihc led to the Russia annexing Crimea and you begin to see the hypocrisy of arming Ukraine. Meanwhile, NORAD has reported Russian aircraft continue to show a more aggressive posture along US airspace.
Internally, Mr. Obama's measured response to Daesh has generated increased frustration with Americans who see him has overly sympathetic to Islam. Three Muslim students were just murdered at the University of North Carolina by an American who had been posting anti-Islamic rhetoric on his Facebook page for weeks. Americans are beginning to take action into their own hands (as many had already travelled overseas to help the rebels fight against Daesh) but I'm afraid the reluctant man in the White House will not see it as a cry for him to become more of a leader but rather as a need for more intervention by the federal government.
While this confusing foreign policy melodrama plays own, the chief writer of this mess has been laying low. Hillary has been notable absent from the campaign trail. The New York Times speculated on this a few weeks ago. Hillary is showing her inevitability as the Democratic candidate by avoiding unnecessary attention to her speaking fees ($225K according to MSNBC), her involvement in Benghazi, her lack of support for naming Boko Haram a terrorist organization, her support for ousting Syrian President Assad (which led to the rise of Daesh), and most importantly her surprising ability to say stupid shit (such as "we're flat broke) on the campaign trail. Lest we forget, Hillary suffers from the same symptom as Brian Williams, i.e. ducking under a hail of bullets to board a helicopter in Afghanistan. The longer Hillary stays out of the public's view, the better her chances for snagging the nomination.
China, Russia and Iran must be beside themselves with delight at the state of the US. An academic playing at being the President of the United States with a tired, burned-out military and an American public that would much rather worry about what happened on the Grammy Awards than what is going on in the White House.
In another miscalculation, Mr. Obama is seeking $5 million to identify the requirements of the 6th generation fighter (the F-35, which hasn't even become operation yet, is a 5th generation fighter). While $5 million is a relative drop in the buck on the Hill, what Mr. Obama and his administration have admitted is the F-35 is already obsolete. Many others have detailed the limitations of the F-35 but let me just add one more thing.
The F-35 is billed as a stealth aircraft, everything about its design and composition as supposed to help it defeat an enemy radar from detecting it. Sounds good until you realize that stealth is meant to defeat radar beams coming at the aircraft from the front or side aspect. All of those oblique angles are meant to keep radar energy from returning in a straight line back to the antenna. But what about radar energy from above?
Over-the-horizon backscatter (OTHB) radar works by aiming radio waves at the ionosphere which are then reflected back down to the ground from above. In this manner, OTHB allows for the detection of aircraft or ships from thousands of miles away. Moreover, since the beam is bounced downward and then upward stealth doesn't work. Granted OTHB is not as precise as other radars but it doesn't have to be. It's for long range surveillance and because it is looking down, it benefits from the Doppler Shift. To a normal radar, an incoming aircraft appears relatively stationary as long as it remains on the same heading (azimuth). But to an OTHB radar, anything moving against the stationary ground shows-up (this is the same principle JSTARS uses for tracking ground vehicles). OTHB is not a new technology and just last year, an article appeared stating that Iran has this technology. Oops, so much for our stealthy F-35! So does China, Russia and most likely North Korea.
Granted, the F-35 shortcomings did not occur under the Obama Administration but the admissions of its shortfalls did at the same time he instituted sequestration. I wonder what kind of speech he will give this time?