ast week the White House sent out a press release trying to strengthen Obama's image on foreign policy and war on terrorism. In the statement, they discussed how Obama sits around every morning and shuffles a deck of cards with various terrorists names and faces on it, trying to decide whose life he will end that day with a drone missile attack. The White House senses that Obama looks weak on foreign matters, and wants to strengthen his image as this all-powerful drone warrior.
Republicans are frothing over Obama's perceived weakness and are going to take him to task hard on his foreign policy blunders. The Obama camp thought they were bullet proof after nailing Osama, Awlaki, and ending the war in Afghanistan and Iraq (which still haven't ended). But then the Arab Spring happened. Obama would wait till the very last moment, when the winner was obvious, and then side with the winning team. He did this in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and is till waffling on the sideline on Syria, waiting for a clear winner to emerge, to then say, "We were with you all along."
Syria has thrown a wrench into that game plan. It's taken longer than expected for a clear winner to emerge, and the Obama camp hasn't yet taken the side of the winner. They continue with the same rhetoric, "freedom, people, democracy", but no one is buying it. The US hasn't backed up their words with any show of force. In fact, they have cowered in the face of threats by Russia and China. This obviously has put the US, and Obama specifically, in a very weak position. So much so, that the rest of the world actually views the US as weak.
So much so, that a recent poll of Arabs in the Middle East has shown Obama to be less popular than Bush in his last term at this time. Some Arabs have gone on to say that they preferred Bush's "in your face" policy rather than paying just lip service to freedom and democracy.
There is a lot of buzz in Washington and especially among the Mitt Romney camp. A few high level sources inside the Republican party have chomping at the bit to attack Obama on his foreign policy weaknesses and especially on Syria. "Obama is fucked on Syria" is the common sentiment. The Romney camp plans to take him to the cleaners on his foreign policy hypocrisy, blunders, and lack of decisiveness.
Mark Rubio, the Senator from Florida, has been harping on Syria extensively. He is originally Cuban and understands dictatorship and why it fails. He compares Syria's Assad to Cuba's Castro. He would like to see an intervention in Syria, yesterday.
Rubio says in his article, "Our allies in this mission should take the main responsibility for arming and training the most capable and trustworthy rebels now. But the U.S. should make clear that we stand ready to step in and fill key gaps between the rebels' military needs and our allies' capabilities. Empowering and supporting Syria's opposition today will give us our best chance of influencing it tomorrow, to ensure that revenge killings are rare in a post-Assad Syria and that a new government follows a moderate foreign policy."
The Obama administration needs to make a quick turnaround and resolve the Syria crisis before the election if they want to see this issue go away. Otherwise, they are going to face a lot of tough criticism, and they don't have a good explanation.